The EENET Interview: Informing Inclusion in Cameroon
Patrick Fonyuy Shey is the coordinator of a local association called Volunteers for the Disabled (VOFODIS). For the past five years, he has been working as a volunteer with disabled children, especially those with developmental disabilities. Patrick is an English speaking Cameroonian from the North West Province – one of the two English Speaking Provinces of Cameroon. Here he is interviewed about the relevance of EENET to his work.
“I am in dire need of more information concerning Inclusive Education. I will be very grateful if EENET keeps on supplying me with the necessary information.”
How did you find out about EENET?
I first heard about this network from the EENET newsletters distributed to us by the International Division of the Department of Special Needs Education, University of Oslo, Norway.
Why are you so interested in being involved?
As a person very much interested in the policy of “Education for All”, I believe that sharing ideas on inclusive education can help in changing mentalities – especially in my country where there is little or no interest in the education of marginalised persons. It should be noted that the majority of children with special needs are still being considered as outcasts in most communities. They are very often hidden in back rooms and not accepted in mainstream schools.
What is your involvement with the education of the marginalised groups?
As the co-ordinator of VOFODIS striving to promote and protect the rights and inclusion of disabled people, we have carried out a sensitisation campaign. We have talked to decision-makers, teachers, school children and parents about the necessity of Education for All. We plan to adopt a “Child-to-Child” strategy as one possible method of encouraging inclusive education in our schools. We also plan to include the education of Albinos, street and war traumatised (refugees) children from neighbouring countries.
“One dangerous epidemic eating our communities today is lack of information.”
What are you able to do to promote EENET?
I plan to initiate a public awareness and information campaign to publicise the activities of EENET in Cameroon and West Africa, by organising workshops and seminars for all the stakeholders, including Community Based Rehabilitation programmes.
How can EENET help you in your work?
In West Africa, special needs education is at a baby stage. Linking together associations and organisations striving for the same goals can help in sharing ideas and experiences on inclusion. Information and the necessary material resources is what we need down South. A lot of sensitisation work is needed. Information sharing can help to promote inclusion in our communities where few people seem to care about the well-being of marginalised people. We also need training opportunities to help us improve and share our knowledge.
“Thank you for all the interesting documents you have sent me. They are useful for those of us who are striving for inclusion without any documentation.”
Have you used EENET’s web site?
Unfortunately I have not been able to look at EENET’s resources on the internet. Gaining access to the internet here is not easy. It is owned mostly by business centres and they charge a lot of money.
How can EENET improve it services?
First of all, I would like to appreciate what EENET has been done so far to promote the education of marginalised groups worldwide. I think this has been a milestone as far as special needs education is concerned. However EENET can decentralise its services by establishing links with regional agencies that can help to disseminate information. I also propose that EENET should concentrate part of its resources in the training of trainers. (This is quite indispensable for the promotion of Inclusive Education in African communities today.)
Patrick Fonyuy Shey can be contacted at: P.O. BOX 3140, Yaounde, Cameroon, West Africa.
In each issue of Enabling Education we feature an interview. In Issue 2 we heard from Ana Maria in Portugal, who translates the newsletter into Portuguese. In Issue 3 we heard from Nithi in South Africa, who told us how useful the video package “Preparing Teachers for Inclusion in Lesotho” has been for her work in teacher training. Do you have something you would like to share with us in the next issue? Please send us your ideas.