CAMEROON: 'Bologna' introduced - but little understood

In common with other universities in Cameroon and French-speaking African countries, the University of Yaoundé is introducing Bologna process reforms. But a report in Le Quotidien Mutations reveals that not all students understand the point of the new European degree system known as BMD. Modelled on three, five and eight years of higher education, the system leads to bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees, with credits transferable between different institutions.

Students interviewed during the university's academic and professional information days in May, which focused on the BMD, told the paper they were still confused about the system which the university adopted at the start of the current academic year.

"When they explain it, you feel as if you understand it but I don't yet see how the courses have changed, even in the way they're given," said a second year biochemistry student. A fellow student observed: "The same problems with the laboratories that we had last year still haven't been sorted out." She hoped the speeches would stop and "they'll put into practice what they tell us in theory", which would "help us understand better what they're saying".

European countries voted to adopt the Bologna process in 1999, and many other countries throughout the world have since started introducing similar structures. From 2003 a number of francophone African countries began to reform their systems. The change is regarded by many as essential in view of the need for global harmonisation of higher education with increased student mobility.

In 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, the number of African students studying in France totalled 125,585, almost half of all students from abroad. Nearly 54,000 of these were from sub-Saharan Africa, of whom the 6,280 Cameroonians represented the second highest contingent, after Senegal.
Full report (in French) on the Le Quotidien Mutations site