Promoting Indigenous Peoples’ Right: Lobeke Conservation Service backs Baka dreamsCharlotte Mbegna, a Baka girl attending Technical High School Moloundou in the East Region of Cameroon dreams of becoming a nurse. “I am attending school so that I can become a nurse,” says Mbegna, about 15 years old. In remote communities straddling Lobeke National Park, Baka face difficult access to health care. And so, Mbegna’s dream is easy to understand.
Mbegna is one of 150 Baka youths attending primary and secondary schools in Moloundou and Salapoumbe who have benefited from a scholarship scheme instituted by the Conservation Service of Lobeke National Park to support the education of Baka children.
Pascal Ngolla, another Baka youth who also benefitted from the grant like Mbegna, holds a similar dream. “I want to be a teacher,” Ngolla states.
The dreams of the Baka youths are not far-fetched. They are directly linked to the challenge of education and access to health care Baka face. Indigenous Baka children are increasingly taking an interest in education, unlike in the past, thanks to support by bodies like WWF. To enable them to achieve their dreams, the Lobeke Conservation Service with the support of partners such as the TNS Foundation and WWF, provides grant to Baka children to attend primary and secondary schools. The now annual subsidy caters for didactic material and a PTA levy.
This academic year, books and other didactic material were donated to the Baka students during ceremonies organized in various schools the Baka children are attending.
“As a conservation service it is our responsibility to promote the socio-economic wellbeing of the population, particularly indigenous Baka. This will enable them to live in harmony with nature and the forest around them,” states Mbamba Kevin, Conservator of Lobeke.
Since 2012, in collaboration with local partners including government sectorial ministries (Basic Education and Social Affairs), NGOs and CSOs, WWF has been supporting the schooling of Baka children. The WWF support has enabled some 700 Baka children to attend school in eastern Cameroon.