In Cameroon, issues of access to education for children with disabilities fall under various ministries: ministry of basic education, ministry of secondary education, ministry of higher education, ministry of employment and vocational training and the ministry of social affairs. The 1983 Law on the Protection of People with Disabilities defined the rights of persons with disabilities and instituted an identity card, known as the disability card, which entitles its holder to social assistance and other benefits. A decree No.90/1516 of November 26, 1990 laid down modalities for the implementation of the 1983 Law, and provided additional rights to persons with disabilities, including the right to education and professional training, preferential treatment in public transportation, taxes, and access to public buildings. Article 1 of this decree stated that the education of children with disabilities should be provided by the national government (Technical Committee 1990; Tukov, 2008).
The Preamble of the Constitution (Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Preamble1) 1996 made primary education compulsory and guaranteed all children’s right to education, which implicitly includes children with disabilities. The Constitution assigned the state responsibility for the organization and supervision of education at all levels. The 1998 Education Framework Act, No 98/004, guarantees equal access to education without discrimination. Following a 2000 presidential decree, public primary education is tuition-free
In addition to the above legislation, Law 004/022, passed in 2004, regulates the provision of private education. This legislation is relevant to the current review because there are many private education schools that cater to children with disabilities. In 2004, the Cameroonian government elaborated a sector wide approach document on education as a road map to achieve universal primary education by 2015 (Ministries of Education and Finance 2004). This roadmap did address access to education for children with disabilities, as the country signed the Salamanca Declaration of 1994, which encourages governments to stipulate that children of all abilities be enrolled in regular school (Ndame, 2012; Tukov, 2008; World Vision 2007). The Ministry of Social Affairs has the mandate to provide prevention, assistance and protection to socially vulnerable persons, including persons with disabilities (Cameroon, 2011). In that respect, it collaborates with the Ministries of Basic Education and Secondary Education (Ngwokabuenui, 2013; Shey, 2014).
In 1996, a Prime Ministerial decree created the National Committee for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Persons with Disabilities (Decree No 96 / 379, 1996), with the mission of coordinating governmental and civil society action to improve the wellbeing of people with disabilities (Pougam, 2000). In 2010, Law No 2010/002 on the protection and advancement of people with disabilities was passed. Section 3 of Chapter 3 addresses special education for people with disabilities. This law states that children and adolescents with disabilities shall have access to education and states that children with disabilities and children of parents with disabilities should be exempted from school fees for government-run school programs (Law N.2010/002 Chapter 4.I). As of January 2015, this law lacked an implementation decree by the president. The implementation decree would allow the measures in the law to be put into practice and funded under the national government’s budget. Due to family and cultural values, discrimination, lack of resources and other factors, many children with disabilities have not had access to education in the past (Hashemi, 2006). There appears to be no system to enforce law No 2010/002, and few resources to support inclusive education although there are signs of improvement in awareness and implementation of the current laws (Mbibeh, 2013; Ngwokabuenui, 2013). For example, legal and educational avenues are opening to allow increased emphasis on training teachers in IE (ITCIG-SENTTI, 2012; Tchombe et al, 2014). In summary, there are laws that aim to guarantee education for children with disabilities in Cameroon. However, these laws are not implemented, in part due to the delay in the implementation decree, and lack of monitoring and evaluation systems that hold organizations accountable.
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