President injects last of promised 2,000 lecturers into HE

The government of Cameroon has started the recruitment of 573 lecturers, including academics in the diaspora, at the country’s 11 staff-starved state universities for the 2022-23 academic year.

This represents the last implementation phase of a 2018 promise by President Paul Biya that 2,000 academic teachers would be injected into the public sector. However, according to the roll-out of the plan, the government is expected to exceed the target of 2,000 posts at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

Whereas the 573 lecturers will be paid from the state’s budget, a further 400 academic staff members will be recruited and paid for by the three newly created state institutions where they will be employed, namely the universities of Bertoua, Garoua and Ebolowa. This means that about 1,000 lecturers will be employed in the current academic year, which started in October.

Joseph Dion Ngute, the prime minister, in a news release, stated that posts will be allocated to the following institutions: the universities of Yaoundé I (69), Ngaoundéré (54), Buea (76), Douala (78), Bamenda (73), Dschang (61), Maroua (60) and Yaoundé II (65), the Higher Teachers Training Colleges of Bertoua (13) and Ebolowa (14) and the Higher Institute of Medical Science, Maroua (10).

Presidential promise

Following the presidential promise to equip state universities with modern infrastructure and provide them with about 2,000 new lecturers, two staff recruitment and appointment phases have been concluded.

In the kick-off phase in 2019 a total of 1,237 positions were filled, followed by 549 positions in 2020 and now the next group of 573 in 2022.

“This recruitment is not only in fulfilment of the presidential promise to get more youths employed, but also to meet the demands of the growing student population during changing times in which innovation in technology is necessitating our higher education system to adapt,” explained Séraphin Magloire Fouda, the secretary general in the prime minister’s office.

Relief for universities

According to university heads, the staff injection is a big relief for state universities facing perennial staff and infrastructure challenges amid the surging student population.

Professor Uphie Chinje, the rector of the University of Ngaoundere, said the institution lacked lecturers in the sciences and its staff strength was below what was needed. The staff injection is expected to also help to improve student-teacher ratios.

“The need for lecturers in a technology university like ours, with heavy practical work in laboratories, is huge. The student-teacher relationship must be very close for effective practical learning,” Chinje explained.

School authorities say many cash-strapped state universities were having difficulties in coping with recruiting part-time lecturers and instructors paid from faculty budgets. They see the news about the lecturers as a finance or budget bailout.

Professor Theresa Nkuo Akenji, the vice-chancellor of the University of Bamenda, said the institution’s student population has been taught by 225 lecturers, many of them part-timers and paid for by the university, when it needs about 450.

“You can understand that the recruitment by the state is a big financial relief for us,” she said.

She added that the additional lecturers will not only help reduce the teacher-student ratio but will go a long way towards improving the professionalisation training option the different state universities have embarked on.

“We have embarked on industrial training, which needs high technology infrastructure and, thus, more teachers,” she said, adding that the addition of more lecturers could also help to discourage the brain drain.

“Most of our PhD holders seek greener pastures abroad because they are either not employed or the pay package the university can offer is not encouraging them to stay at the university,” Akenji said.

Despite the government’s intervention, universities hope that there will be ongoing efforts to address staffing issues and infrastructure.

“The need for more lecturers and infrastructure in our universities today is huge. [We are in need of] not just any lecturer, but those who are able to serve the needs of our students. University lecturers have simultaneous teaching, research and administration responsibilities,” said Professor Ngomo Horace Manga, the vice-chancellor of the University of Buea.

The recruitment and application process has started and will conclude in May 2023. Candidates at national level have until 17 January 2022 to submit documentation.

Academics from abroad can approach the Cameroonian diplomatic missions of their host countries for more information. Applicants have to be younger than 45.