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General News of Thursday, 23 July 2015

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Over 400 street children back in school

The project by the Ministry of Social Affairs has also seen over 500 children returned to their families in Yaounde and Douala.

Government has taken the growing problem of street children head-on by carrying out a pilot project in the cities of Yaounde and Douala to help identify and return them home.

Speaking at the Mvog-Betsi Zoo-botanic Garden in Yaounde on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, at the start of a three-day workshop to evaluate the project, the Coordinator, Bayomock Luc André, said over 1,900 street children have been identified in the two cities since 2008.

Of the number, 560 have been returned to their families while over 400 are back in school, with many performing well. According to Catherine Bakang Mbock, the Minister of Social Affairs, who opened the workshop, the problem of street children is recurrent.

The just-ended project that began in March 2008 set out among others to see how families can help in stemming the challenge. She acknowledged that street children have great potentials, thus the urgent need to put an end to their plight.

Cameroon’s policy on street children, the Minister explained, focuses on four core areas viz psycho-social care, developing an information system on the children, rehabilitating child re-education centres and mobilising the international community to assist them.

The problem, Catherine Bakang Mbock insisted, was not limited to Cameroon, as a 2000 report by UNICEF indicated that there were 10 million street children in Africa in 1998. It is for this reason that tackling the problem entails the involvement of various cross-cutting stakeholders, she explained.

Government has therefore engaged the assistance of the National Civic Service Agency for Participation in Development to train the children returned home, while the National Employment Fund is offering them funding and training in various skills, Bayomock Luc André disclosed.

The Coordinator of the Project to Stem the Problem of Street Children however admitted that relations with Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, assisting street children were not good.

Bayomock Luc explained CSOs tend to prefer to see the children remaining in the streets so that they can continue to get funding and offer them handouts from time to time.

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