As a Government policy ushered in 2008, the Ministry of Social Affairs is currently tackling the issue of street children. The issue has kept the Social Affairs Minister, Catherine Bakang Mbock, on her heels as she was in Buea 22 February to ascertain that the Buea based Borstal Institute could play host to some 120 of the 462 homeless children recuperated from Yaounde and Douala streets.
While in Buea, Minister Bakang Mbock held a working session with local authorities, partners of social action and the press in the conference room of the South West Governor lecturing on the new approach to tackle street children.The Minister said the idea was to reform such recalcitrant children but making sure they return to their homes after reformation. "The worst of it would be to render these children perpetually dependent", the Minister explained. She handed over documents for practical partnership with Religious Associations, NGOs and well wishers. The Minister underscored the First Lady's capital role played in this new poicy and urged other Cameroonians to emulate.
The Minister said street children was a problem everywhere. For example Holland in Europe harboured some 7.000 street children in 2008 when statistics were carried out while the entire African continent averaged some 10 million in its streets. Minister Bakang Mbock explained that of the 462 picked from Yaounde and Douala streets, arrangement was made for 119 to go back home, 62 were placed in schools and the rest would be reformed in some three reformatory centres rehabilitated like Borstal in Buea, Betamba in Yaounde and CAO Douala. The Government spent some CFA 300 million to rehabilitate the Borstal Institute in Buea. The Minister, very concerned with the welfare of such children mustered keen attention to inspect the equipment and repair works effected in Borstal. There, she was convinced that the mechanical and carpentry workshops as well as the the piggery could sustain the incoming difficult children. For the entire programme, Buea will host delinquents between 12 and 17 years, CAO Douala will take those less than 12 years and Betamba will cater for 17 and 21 years. For the exercise to succeed, the Minister called for the collaboration of all and especially the new staff from other Ministries who shall be transferred to these centres.