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Cameroon launches free birth certificate issuance operation for 80K pupils in exams

Cameroon launches free birth certificate issuance operation for 80K pupils in exams

About 80,000 primary school children, who do not have birth certificates, but who are preparing to write the First School Leaving Certificate or “Certificat d’Etude Primaire” examinations in Cameroon, will have their dreams supported with the free issuance of this important ID document.

A special government operation to materialize this ambition was launched last Friday March 22 in Yaounde, and it is expected to run for a period of two months.

The campaign has the support of the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through an initiative dubbed “Support Program for Educational Reforms in Cameroon,” (PAREC), designed to. It targets pupils in Cameroon’s French and English sub systems of education who have lost possession of their birth certificates, especially in regions like the North West and South West where separatist militia are fighting to establish a new country, and the Far North region where government troops have been battling Boko Haram insurgency for several years.

These conflicts have led to mass displacement of families, with many members losing important documentation and other property in the process.

Basic Education Minister, Prof Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, while launching the campaign, emphasized the importance of a birth certificate for school-going children. He described it as an important foundational credential without which they will not be able to complete their primary school cycle. In some cases, the lack of birth certificates has been a hindrance to school admission for kids, he recognized.

With the special operation, he expressed optimism that 80,000 children, who are in classes eligible to take end-of-course examinations, will be able to do so as a birth certificate is a requirement to register for final examinations in primary schools in the country.

In order to ensure a smooth unfolding of the activity, the government has put in place a working group of representatives from some bodies including the Ministries of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Social Affairs, Territorial Administration and Decentralisation and Local Development, among others.

As part of the operation, Justice Mister Laurent Esso, has also called on court officials to facilitate the delivery of declaratory judgements for birth certificate applicants. Special court sessions in this regard are scheduled to take place from April 1-19 across the country.

Already, government, through the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development, is overseeing a campaign to issue 500,000 birth certificates to all categories of undocumented children in the ten administrative regions of the country.

A campaign led by a government agency to push for the free issuance of birth certificates and other civil status documents appears to be yielding fruits as some mayors recently expressed their commitment to respecting the law on the issue.

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