Reinnier Kaze, AFP | This photo taken on June 16, 2017 shows the city of Bamenda, the Anglophone capital of northwest Cameroon.
Reinnier Kaze, AFP | This photo taken on June 16, 2017 shows the city of Bamenda, the Anglophone capital of northwest Cameroon.

The new school year began in Cameroon on Monday with timid attendance in the two crisis-hit English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest, according to government officials.

In the Northwest, 55,010 students were expected to attend school but only 1,299 answered present. Out of 555 schools that were expected to be functional, only 30 schools were operational on Monday, Roland Ngwang, Northwest chief of secondary education, told Xinhua.

Officials of Southwest said above 2,000 students attended school in the region that was expecting approximately 100,000 children in school.

“It is the first day, with all the challenges, we hope that tomorrow the attendance will be better than today. Government will spare no effort to ensure that children go back to school this year.” Southwest region’s governor, Bernard Okalia Balai, told reporters after visiting some schools.

Locals told Xinhua “sporadic gunshots” by separatists to deter children from going to school were heard in parts of the English-speaking regions throughout Monday.

The troubled regions are observing a three-week lockdown imposed by armed separatists, who have warned that they will not allow any school to be opened unless their leader, Juilius Ayuk Tabe and nine others given life jail sentences by a military tribunal are freed.

Insecurity in the two regions has left more than 4,400 schools forcibly closed, affecting more than 600,000 children, according to a UNICEF report released last month.

Separatists in the regions have been clashing with government forces since 2017 in a bid to create and independent nation they call “Ambazonia”. Enditem

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