YAOUNDE, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Cameroonian officials said Tuesday that school attendance has improved greatly in its English-speaking regions of Southwest and Northwest, where an armed separatist conflict is underway.
According to Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the Southwest region, back-to-school activities have been effective throughout the region. "Children are there. They are joyful and happy to come back to school. Enrollments have remarkably increased," he said during a visit to schools in the region.
"Almost 80 percent of the children and about 70 percent of teachers were present. We think it's a good score," said Simon Nkwenti, the prefect of Donga-Mantung, a division in the Northwest region.
More than 700,000 children in these regions were denied access to education after separatists began a forced boycott of schools in 2017, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Some separatist fighters have called for school reopening of schools, but others insist that government schools will not operate in the regions where they have been fighting to establish an independent state since 2017.
Cameroon's new school year began Monday. ■