April and May are the hottest months in the Far north region of Cameroon. Temperatures range between 36 and 42, sometimes 46 oC – pretty challenging for indoor classes when there is no air conditioning. At Jacques de Bernon Catholic School in Maroua because of these extreme temperatures and as a a covid precaution, lessons have moved outside. It has made the teachers and learners appreciate the shade of mango trees planted on campus by the school’s founders.
The situation has hammered home messages being taught by Mr Njei John, who coordinates the school environment club. John was introduced to PACE at a training event in Yaounde last September and this past year has used PACE, particularly the Climate Change module to get students involved in practical environmental activities. He focused on the school campus, and club members have already started recycling, and composting. Their next target is to increase the number of trees and then to extend to growing trees around the Diocese as a whole.
The climate is harsh in Maroua, it is hot, and dry, water courses and rain are seasonal, wells and bore holes need to be deep. Climate change and desertification is very real to people, most of whom live precarious lives dependent on what they can grow in poor soils with little rain. Schools like Jacques de Bernon have an important role to play in helping people to understand both the bigger picture, and what they can do locally to improve livelihoods and environmental sustainability. We’re really excited that a school with such a strong academic record also takes sustainability education seriously. Having full English and French language sections and a campus that is already something of an oasis in an arid area, it is well placed to inspire change in the wider communities.
With thanks to Berinyuy Verye Marius for his commitment to quality teacher education, mentoring and continued support to schools and teachers nationwide. Marius provided the initial training in Yaounde that has not only helped Njei John and his school, but a total of 15 colleges, in the East, West, North and Centre Regions.