CAMEROON: New Maroua university due to open

President Paul Biya has fulfilled an 11-year promise and the University of Maroua, Cameroon's seventh, is about to open. The new institution will consist of faculties yet to be created, and two grandes écoles, the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut Supérieur du Sahel.

The idea of establishing a university in the neglected far northern province, which has a population of six million, had been talked about for years. Until now, its young people have had to move up to 1,000 kilometres from home to undertake higher education. Biya first made its creation an election pledge in 1997, and again in 2004.

The President signed the decrees necessary to open the university earlier this month, and the first part, the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), is due to start operating in October, in buildings belonging to existing schools and colleges. The ENS will train teachers at secondary and higher levels of education with an initial intake of 2,000 students.

Interviewed in the Cameroon Tribune of Yaoundé, Jacques Fame Ndongo, the Minister of Higher Education, said the Institute of the Sahel would train specialists up to PhD level for "professions relevant to the area", such as solar, hydro and wind energy, fish and livestock industries, climatology, tanning and skintrade, environment, agriculture, tourism and mining.

The university should soon have its own campus. This year's schedule includes construction of an administrative building, a teaching block for 800 students, a lecture hall with seating for 500, a canteen with 250 places, student accommodation for 400 and medical facilities, according to Le Quotidien Mutations of Yaoundé.