In December 2022 and January 2023, Commonwealth Alumnus Tabemonso Tabeagbor delivered a campaign to promote skills development opportunities for girls and young people in Limbe, Cameroon. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of vocational training opportunities for internally displaced girls aged between 5-17 years and vulnerable people aged between 18-35 years whose lives and education has been affected by the Anglophone Crisis in the Southwest region of Cameroon.
The activity promoted to the 2021/22 ACEF theme: Girls’ Education.
Tabemonso is the Co-Founder and Programme Director of the Integrated Youth Empowerment Centre, Cameroon (IYEC-Cameroon). IYEC seeks to raise awareness of health issues, promote human rights and protection, and support wealth creation to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people. Tabemonso is passionate about promoting and advocating for girls’ education, conflict resolution, and sustainable development.
Understanding the scale of the challenge facing women and girls
Since the start of the Anglophone Crisis in 2017, it is estimated that the education of over 700,000 children has been disrupted. Students, teachers, and schools have been subject to systematic and widespread attacks in Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
In 2022, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the conflict had displaced almost 366,000 people. Women and girls make up the greatest percentage of the displaced population. Amongst the displaced families, boys are typically chosen to receive formal education whilst girls are tasked with completing domestic duties and supporting elderly relatives.
Research by UNICEF shows that having access to good quality, inclusive education provides significant economic, social, and health benefits to displaced and host communities. Providing formal and informal education to displaced young people, and in particular girls, is therefore imperative to improving livelihoods and prospects for these communities.
Encouraging internally displaced girls to pursue vocational training
Tabmonso’s campaign aimed to raise awareness of vocational training opportunities which would help foster socio-economic independence amongst girls and vulnerable people affected by the crisis.
The campaign included a community education talk and a radio talk show, both of which were repeated to reach a greater audience. These activities were delivered with support from girls’ education experts from IYEC-Cameroon and external organisations. The expert speakers included: Monique Manyi Tabe, a consultant and advocate for girls’ education, and Peter Kungue, a radio journalist. From IYEC-Cameroon, Tabemonso also engaged Fanka Irene Bongka, Assistant Education Officer, Elad Job Mbong, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, and Bridget Etankogho Etta, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Consultant.
The community educative talk entitled ‘The promotion of non-formal and in-formal education for girls’ was delivered in collaboration with civil society organisations (CSOs), Community Action Scheme Africa (CASAF) and Green and Better World.
CASAF is committed to eliminating poverty and working to protect and defend the human rights of vulnerable and at-risk individuals. While Green and Better World works closely with local communities to make a positive impact on the environment through education, healthcare, and advocacy. The talk was aimed at crisis affected girls and children affiliated with the CSOs and received 60 participant attendees across the two sessions.
To understand participants’ existing knowledge on informal and non-formal education, interviews were conducted before both scheduled community talks. The findings from these interviews showed that most participants were unaware of institutions offering skill-based education which further stressed the importance of the awareness campaign.
Tabemonso opened each talk with a welcome address and was joined by guests Eposi Ndima epse Ntims, Divisional Delegate of Employment and Vocational Training for Fako, Adolf Okon Mboyam, Chief Executive Officer at Community Action Scheme Africa, and Ambe Micheal, Chief Executive Officer at Green and Better World.
This was followed by the first presentation on ‘The importance of non-formal and informal education’ delivered by Manyi Monique Tabe. In the presentation, Manyi discussed the different institutions providing skills development programmes to displaced girls and encouraged participants to utilise local resources to enhance the skills that they would need to become financially independent.
The second presentation was on ‘Getting a recognised certificate in non-formal education’ and was delivered by Fanka Irene Bongka from IYEC. In this presentation, Fanka highlighted how to acquire a government recognised certificate for non-formal education and shared tips on how to set up a business.
During each talk, participants shared their experiences, questions, and thoughts and engaged with the speakers and fellow participants about challenges and solutions to gaining informal and non-formal education, as well as the future career opportunities that could be achieved with these skills.
One participant shared her experience of having completed vocational training but being unable to gain employment without the certificate. After receiving advice from the speakers, she understood what was needed to highlight the importance of her qualification to potential employers. Another participant discussed an idea she had had to set up a small enterprise which was supported by fellow attendees at the talk who motivated her to pursue next steps.
Spreading the message through community radio
To raise awareness amongst the wider community where the displaced girls were living, Tabemonso organised two radio talk shows which aired on 14 December 2022 and 17 January 2023.
Tabemonso worked with local radio journalist, Peter Kungue at Eden Radio, to broadcast the shows, which included a discussion led by IYEC-Cameroon’s Assistant Education Officer, Fanka Irene Bongka. Fanka talked about the differences between formal, informal and non-formal education, and highlighted the different skills development opportunities available to girls affected by the crisis living in host communities. This was followed by a discussion on understanding how to get a government recognised certificate for non-formal education and the procedures to follow which was led by Manyi Monique Tabe.
Throughout the show, listeners were encouraged to call in and ask questions of the speakers. Both radio shows were repeat broadcasted and the station estimated that approximately 5,000 listeners tuned in to hear the discussions.
Post-activity monitoring and evaluation
On completion the awareness campaign, the outcomes were measured by IYEC-Cameroon monitoring and evaluation experts, Elad Job Mbong and Bridget Etankogho Etta.
At the community awareness talks, participants were asked to rate their level of knowledge before and after the talk. Participants reported that their perception about informal and non-formal education changed following the talk and that they felt encouraged to pursue skill-based training. Participants acknowledged that acquiring skills would make them more self-reliant and better able to manage welbeing needs such as better health, food, shelter, and WASH.
Through this campaign, Tabemonso drew on the knowledge and skills gained during his Commonwealth Professional Fellowship with host organisation Lifegate Outreach Centre UK. Tabemonso utilised his skills in community development and capacity building to promote girls’ education at the local community level during the awareness campaign, and he aims to continue promoting skill-based training to girls affected by conflict in Cameroon.
Tabemonso Tabeagbor is a 2021 Commonwealth Fellow. He completed his Fellowship with the Lifegate Outreach Centre UK.