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General News of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Old Textbooks Exchanged Within Families

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Frederick B. recently passed the General Certificate of Education, GCE, Advanced Level examination in five science subjects at Government Bilingual High School, Yaounde. As he dreams of pursuing higher education in the University of Buea, he remembers his young cousin, Samuel A. who also made it in nine out of ten GCE Ordinary Level subjects.

Not long after the publication of the results, Frederick visited his aunt, Rebecca M. who is Samuel A's mother in their Etoug-Ebe, Yaounde home. After jubilation, one of the issues that featured during their discussions was the handing over of Frederick's science textbooks to Samuel to enable Rebecca, a petty trader, cut down back-to-school spending. Upon obtaining the approval of his parents, Frederick handed over his textbooks to Samuel.

This practice is common in most families during back-to-school periods. Besides textbooks, students hand over to their younger ones other items such as schoolbags, uniforms and other materials unused or still in good state. Such sought-after family solidarity has accounted for the success of so many Cameroonians whose parents could not afford buying textbooks.

"My mother checked our textbooks at the end of each week. We usually bound them with old newspaper to ensure the covers remained new. If Mummy saw any scratch, ink mark or tear, she administered whacks on us," remembers Martha N., a third year Law student in the University of Yaounde II.

While in college and high school, she says, books were handed over to her siblings such that they used the same books, school bags, mathematics sets and uniforms over and over until they were no longer on booklists. "Our parents could save as much as FCFA 100,000 each year by not buying certain textbooks on the booklist," she says.

As families prepare for the 2012 school reopening, parents are getting nervous about the cost of textbooks. And where possible, recourse is made to textbooks no longer used by siblings.

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