Cameroon’s COVID-19 pandemic education response and the shift to distance/digital learning, November 2021

Originally published


Prepared by Gilbert Ajebe Akame, Rosaline Awutarh Bates Anoma, and Janelle Crockett


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February/March 2020 and the imminent measures to curb its spread brought education to a complete halt while stakeholders figured out how to ensure education continuity in Cameroon. Cameroon’s education response mirrored that of other sub-Saharan African countries that have been generally considered to be unprepared for distance learning solutions. While the world was already leaning towards digital learning and virtual education to supplement traditional forms of learning, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need for structured and suitable systems of distance learning facilitated by digital tools and technology.

The purpose of this study is to examine the preparedness for contingencies of this nature, and sufficiency of the measures employed to ensure education continuity by the Cameroon government and other education stakeholders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the challenges to an effective and viable distance learning alternative and what needs to be done to reinforce distance/digital learning realistically in Cameroon. The study also aims to demonstrate the need for and importance of a crucial and substantial digital learning policy, which would put in place measures and conditions necessary for equitable and sustainable digital access for pupils and students in Cameroon in line with goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The study employed a mixed methods approach to data collection: a cross-sectional survey, stakeholder interviews, and evidence review. The survey and interviews focused on students in Forms 1 – 5, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth, and their parents/guardians and teachers. The findings reveal lack of satisfaction with the response of the government and other education stakeholders characterized by systematic, infrastructural, and material challenges, aggravated by already existing inequalities regarding access to education. The study argues that the COVID-19 response is a wake-up call to the Cameroon government and other education stakeholders to act on policy and take concrete measures aimed at strengthening digital education systems.

Solidarity and Development Initiative