In the year 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established following the adoption of the millennium declaration. Considering the fact that the MDGs are expiring this year, the United Nations has once more embarked on a program known as the Post 2015 Development Agenda which is particularly a process to help define the global development framework that will succeed the MDGs. It was under the backdrop of the Post-2015 Development Agenda that the Building Bridges Foundation initiated the Building Bridges project. Founded by two Dutch Nationals Jilt Van Schayik and Teun Meulepas, the Building Bridges project had as major objective to capture the views of young people in 21 countries based on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In Cameroon the project was implemented by Educate a Child in Africa (ECA) and it consisted of implementing a survey using My World survey questionnaires to capture the opinion of young Cameroonians from the Streets of two major towns (Buea and Limbe), secondary schools, Higher Institutions of learning and Youth Associations. In all, more than one thousand six hundred and seventy young people drawn from the University of Buea (UB), the Pan African Institute of Development, West Africa (PAID-WA), Commonwealth Youth Association, “Association Internationale des Etudiants en Science Economiques et Commerciales” (AIESEC), Trustech Institute of Technology and over ten secondary schools were part of the survey. The survey spanned between the period of April 22 to June 6th 2015.
Educate a Child in Africa organized a survey and a conference to give young Cameroonians an opportunity to make their voices heard. The engagement could only be fulfilled by getting them fill the “My World” survey form. The educative talks and games that were organized by the Educate a Child in Africa team in the different institutions generated excitement and belief that their opinion will also count in not just changing their country but also be part of the global change process. The young people representing the ten regions of the country were asked to choose six out of the sixteen proposed goals reflecting what is of interest to them and their families.
On Tuesday, June 9 2015, with the arrival of Jilt and Teun in Cameroon, the Building Bridges Foundation and Educate a Child in Africa co-hosted a conference in the University of Buea under the theme “the importance of quality education in the fight against poverty in Cameroon”.
The program started with an interactive prelude on gender equality under the canopy of the UN Women “He-for-She” campaign coordinated by Jilt Van Schayik. The conference participants debated on the issue of the education of the girl child, shared different views of what they consider is the best place of a woman in the society and why. Despite the diversity in opinions, majority of the participants settled for gender equality. The singing of the national anthem, a welcome address by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Educate a Child in Africa and the presentation of the Building Bridges Project to participants were all part of the days’ agenda.
The highlight of the day was the presentation of a sketch titled “Regurgitating Renegades from Chomenkam” by the God Given Idiots theatre troupe. The almost twenty minutes energetic drama painted a picture of the high certificate acquiring rate of scholars in Cameroon with very low job readiness due to lack of skills. Even after the sketch, the question “What can you do” was heavy in the air amidst loud applause. The program ended with a presentation of the survey results and an exchange between the participants and the founders of Building on quality education, better job opportunities and access to water and sanitation.