Since 2017 the Central African country of Cameroon has been ravaged by guerilla warfare. The ongoing conflict has left thousands of people dead and forced many more to flee from their homes, resulting in thousands of children being out of school.
This devastating situation has seen schools and institutions attacked and threatened, leading to the shutdown of most schools in the anglophone side of the country, which has left more than 1.1 million children without access to education (UNICEF). It is now up to the local associations and organizations to save this generation of children by providing them their right to an education, even if that means using unconventional methods.
The Catholic Diocese of Buea is leading the challenge of bringing school to the children. Its goal is to use the frequency of the already-established Divine Mercy Radio and use it to broadcast educational lessons so children can start learning again. As the world adapts to distance learning because of the covid-19 pandemic, Divine Mercy Radio is doing it as well, as it works towards becoming a “radio school”.
Siengfred M’sene Tata, Director of Communications of the Diocese of Buea, shared with SSR during an interview on the Facebook show “SIGNIS With You Live” that in Cameroon people do not have access to newspapers, but that through radio the diocese can “help people build media values and follow up with formal education through the radio” as they “produce lessons that can be broadcasted and reach those that are in the bushes”. Harnessing the power of the radio to reach dozens of people even in the most remote areas, Divine Mercy Radio is looking forward to airing new educational programs so children can fully continue their studies.
This dream is on its way to becoming a reality thanks to the work the Diocese of Buea is doing with SIGNIS Services Rome to acquire the necessary funds to modernize the equipment of the radio station, create and distribute booklets to accompany the radio lessons and also provide radio transistors to those that do not own any, so no one is left out. In addition, Divine Mercy Radio plans on utilizing renewable energy to secure a reliable power source and prevent any interruptions to broadcasts.
Br. Tata underlined the fact that even if the school started now, they need to catch up to meet with so many things Cameroonians have lost, sharing that even if children are the main focus of this project, the ultimate goal is to educate everyone on various aspects, starting with their rights: in Cameroon “people do not even know their rights. When people know their basic rights, no matter how reluctant the government is, it has to listen”, said Br. Tata.
Education is a pillar of our society and it is our utmost responsibility to make sure that we take care of the generation of tomorrow. The new programs that Divine Mercy Radio will foster the creation of a strong, independent civil society that is aware of its rights and its role in the path towards peace. With broadcasts about justice, health, leadership, and empowerment, Divine Mercy Radio will improve the level of civility, responsibility, and knowledge in various fields for roughly thirty-five local towns.
In an area where conflict and violence have destroyed safe access to education, Divine Mercy Radio gives a voice to hope and peace.