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Cameroon conflict: ‘I go to a secret school’

BBC | Eleven-year-old Mackjourney goes to a secret school in Cameroon.

When his family recently fled a separatist rebellion in the country’s English-speaking regions, they thought they had found a place where he could go to school in safety.

But that has turned out not to be the case as the school he attends in Douala, the biggest city in Cameroon, is at risk of closure because it is deemed illegal by the authorities.

Such illegal schools are mushrooming in Douala, where the majority of people are French-speaking.

‘Raining bullets’

Most schools in the Anglophone regions of North-West, including its capital Bamenda, and South-West have been shut down over the last three years, leaving more than 600,000 children out of school.

“I left Bamenda because there was a war. They were killing people and they were shooting guns,” Mackjourney told the BBC.

Those schools that did remain open were at risk of attack from separatist fighters.

“We would sit in class and bullets would be raining on the roof. It was scary,” he said.

Some enterprising people in Douala have stepped in to provide them with an education – at a price.

Mackjourney walks 2km (a little more than a mile) every morning through a narrow, winding pathway in a marshy area to his school, a wood structure with no windows.

From inside their classroom they can see the tall grass on all sides.

The location has been chosen so that it is hard for the authorities to find.

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