Open letter to GCE Board Chairman

Dear Mr. Chairman
Violation of GCE Board Texts
I write to you in my capacity as
1. The Emeritus founding President of the Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC
2. The undisputed leader of the Anglophone movement that wrestled the Cameroon Government in 1992-1993 for the creation of the Cameroon GCE Board
3. Member of the Prime Minister’s Committee of reflection on the organization of the GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION, GCE, BOARD
4. The Pioneer Registrar of the General Certificate of Education, GCE, Board
5. Self-proclaimed Examinations Consultant to the GCE Board.
Many Anglophone Cameroonians have floated fears that the Government has plans to transfer the GCE Board from Buea to Yaounde. These fears are based on erroneous decisions taken by your predecessors to move the Board’s Regional Offices in Bamenda into the Regional Delegation for Secondary Education and Yaounde into the Ministry of Secondary Education. The Board’s silence and indifference in responding to matters of concern to the public about the function of the Board seem to bolster these fears. It is common knowledge that for more than 22 years the representatives of teachers and parents on the Council, through whom the teachers and parents can be informed, have made no effort to meet with their peers to educate them on resolutions taken in Council.
I believe that it is your responsibility to dispel these fears and rumours by reminding us that the all-important decree No. 93/172 of 01 July 1993, signed by the Head of State himself, President Paul Biya, states categorically in Article 2(2) that the seat of the GCE Board is in Buea. Only another decree of the Head of State can cause a change of that seat and we have not yet found a reason to suggest that this should happen.

The GCE Board Council
The Council of the GCE Board of which you are Chairman is, by Section II Article 7 of decree No. 112/CABPM OF 12 OCT 1993, the supreme governing body of the Board. Its composition is defined in Article 9(1) to include
i) The Chairperson
ii) The Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea or his representative
iii) One representative of the Presidency of the Republic
iv) One representative of the Prime Minister’s Office
v) One representative of the Minister in charge of Higher Education
vi) One representative of the Minister in charge of Finance
vii) Two Inspectors General of Pedagogy (Secondary General and Technical Education)
viii) The Director in charge of Examinations in the Ministry of Secondary Education or his Deputy
ix) Two representatives of parents
x) Two representatives of teachers
xi) Four representatives of the organizations of private education
This gives a total of 17 Councilors.
Article 9(3) specifies that representatives of parents, teachers and private education shall be elected for a period of 3 (three) years renewable. A closer look at this list tells us that the Government has 9 (nine) Councilors and, if we take the Councilors of private education to be the People’s Councilors, the People have 8 (eight). In a full Council session where decisions are taken by a simple majority the Government will willy-nilly have its way. It will even find it easier if the elections of the representatives of parents, teachers and private education were organized by agents of the Ministry of Secondary Education (RDSE).

The Gentleman Agreements
Mr. S. N. Dioh of blessed memory and I were members of the PM’s committee which drafted this decree and, whether by chance or by design, we were appointed pioneer Chairman and Registrar respectively. Realizing that the text left out the method of election of the representatives of parents, teachers and private education and that, in its current form it could be exploited by ill intentioned administrators to the disfavor of the people, we got the first Council meeting of the GCE Board to enter into what has come to be known as the Gentleman Agreements.
The first of these agreements spelt out the method of election of the representatives of the parents, teachers and private education. Representatives of Catholic Education would be appointed by the Bishops alternating between the Northwest and Southwest Regions while representatives of Protestant Education would alternate between the Presbyterian Church and the Baptist Church. The representatives of the Islamic Faith would be appointed by the corresponding education authorities. Lay Private Education would follow the same alternating procedure. The selection of the parents and teachers representatives was to be the reserve of the Confederation of Anglophone Parent Teachers Association of Cameroon, CAPTAC, for the parents and Teachers Unions for the latter. The method of selection was to be determined by these bodies with the proviso that the two Regions had a balanced representation. The respect of this agreement would ensure that the concerned organizations participate consciously in decisions of the Council of the GCE Board. The responsibility of inviting these various organizations to renew their Councilors every three years and, therefore giving fresh impetus to the Council, is that of the Chairman. When Regional Delegates begin to take it upon themselves to cause councilors to be elected under their supervision it is a travesty and creates an unhealthy environment for you.
The second of the Gentleman Agreements was that the positions of Chairman of the Council and Registrar of the Board would alternate between the Northwest and Southwest Regions. By this agreement no one Region could hold the two positions concurrently. The same applied to the two Deputy Registrars; they had to be selected one from each of the two English Regions.
These two agreements constitute what is known in GCE Board language as the Gentleman Agreements. Although they are unwritten, they have served as boulders to the GCE Board’s texts and have kept the Board running smoothly for the past 25 years. By June 2016, charlatans, pirates et al, started scheming for a share of the Board’s apparent wealth and, finding it hard to enter through the right process, went round the text and the two agreements above. Perhaps, bugged down by these charlatans, the Prime Minister Head of Government, H.E. Philemon Yang invited me to his office on 17th June 2016, for a briefing on the spirit of the Gentleman Agreements.

THE APPOINTMENT OF THE CURRENT REGISTRAR
Mr. Chairman, I welcomed your appointment as the 4th Chairman of the GCE Board, an appointment which conformed to the Gentleman Agreement as did all other appointments before then. However, whilst the Anglophone community which is served by the GCE Board was waiting for your installation and the holding of your first Council meeting which would elect and propose a new Registrar in conformity with Article 21(2) of the PM’s text of application, I was surprised that a new Registrar was installed simultaneously with you. The dust raised by this appointment had not yet settled when I learnt that the Registrar had proceeded with the installation of a Deputy Registrar for Technical Services even before you had had the opportunity to meet in Council to exercise your functions in this respect as required. (I would be doubly surprised if this was done with your blessing).

Election of Parents and Teachers Representatives
I am reliably informed that on Wednesday 23rd May 2018, the Regional Delegate of Secondary Education, RDSE, for the Northwest Region organized elections for representatives of parents and teachers on the Council. This action again violates the GCE Board texts and the long standing and very useful Gentleman Agreement. Should the RDSE for the Southwest Region also proceed with similar elections, the Council will have 13 Councilors for Government and only the 4 representing private education for the People. Mr. Chairman, this is unacceptable.

Conclusion
In total respect for the person of the Prime Minister, I have accepted the appointment of the current Registrar which, as I have stressed, violated Article 21(2) of the text of application, even if it respected the Gentleman Agreement in respect of the Region of origin. But to allow the administration of the Board to take advantage of this action of the PM to perpetuate illegality is totally irresponsible and unacceptable. Therefore Mr. Chairman,
1. I am encouraging the Teachers Unions and CAPTAC to formally elect their representatives to the Council under your chairmanship
2. I am urging you to
a) Reverse all the decisions of the present Registrar which do not conform with the text and the Gentleman Agreement and
b) Declare as inadmissible the elections conducted in violation of the Gentleman Agreement by the RDSE for the Northwest Region and advise his counterpart in the Southwest Region not to fall to the temptation to exercise power which does not belong to him.
Mr. Chairman I believe that such a stance by you will restore public confidence to the Board and its administration. I am consequently taking the liberty to make this message I am addressing to you public because I have written it in the overall interest of the GCE Board to which Anglophones, who I led, sacrificed their all to have created.
Yours truly

Azong-Wara Andrew

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