The English-speaking regions of Cameroon have experienced a boycott of school activities due to a teacher strike that has been going on since 21 November 2016. This strike has paralysed all educational activities in Cameroon. Students have been forced to reorient their schedules.
Since the strike, the world of beauty and fashion has witnessed an upsurge in the number of participants. Because they are not in school, many students can be found helping out at the Bamenda Main Market alongside the hairdressers. Other students are working with manicurists/pedicurists. It is a way of keeping busy while also making some money and developing their talents.
Carine, a student in Cameroon, is pleased to be able to occupy herself while also making some money to help her family. She says, “I never knew I could plait this fast and I have improved on my skills and hope that when schools resume, I would have learnt something new. And, the money I earn will also help to buy my school needs when schools resume.”
Students from technical schools are not left out. They are offering skilled and semi-skilled labour in the booming trade industry. They work alongside the already established carpenters, builders, electricians and mechanics. Some say it is very lucrative.
But, one man’s gain is another man’s loss. To Mr. Rene, the students have made life difficult for professionals. He says the students are undercutting the professionals. For instance, a piece of work that professionals will charge 10000cfa ($20) for, a student will do it for half the price. Life has transformed in shops, farms and workshops since students joined the workforce early.
Things will never be the same because of the strike. The students have been exposed to making money. But while some students may not return to school, a good majority are praying for the strike to end so they can continue with their education.
On a positive note, many students have discovered new talents and others have improved on existing ones.