Immigrating to Canada from Cameroon: All you need is to deliver an Anthony Joshua knockout blow 0

A scuffle ensued and blows were exchanged when thousands of university graduates in Cameroon swamped the University of Buea (UB) campus to apply for the French language proficiency test, Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF), a requirement to obtain a Canadian visa.

Canada has become a new destination for thousands of graduates from Cameroon, in particular, and Africa in general, following the 2022-24 Canadian government immigration plan that provides opportunities for skilled workers.

Apart from graduates seeking jobs, information from the Canadian immigration service also says international students are a top priority in the country’s new immigration targets, and the immigration streams that their applications feed into will contribute more than half of new permanent residents.

But, to benefit from these opportunities, applicants are supposed to show proof of mastery of the French language, according to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s 2024-25 Departmental Plan.

Information from the university language examination centres in Cameroon indicated that graduates and other applicants who are successful in the exams that will be written in May 2024, will be eligible to continue the processes to obtain visas.

Chaotic scenes

The UB authorities were ill-prepared to accommodate a crowd which, according to estimates, included up to 4,000 people.

“We were surprised by the huge crowd, because Buea University is just one of the [exam] centres. The other two include the French Institute in Douala, and Yaounde. You can just imagine the numbers at the other centres,” Professor Apuge Michael Etuge, the dean of the faculty of arts at UB, told University World News.

The registration process, the authorities say, requires applicants to register their names at the designated centres, thereby obtaining a code which they need to pay their registration fees of about XAF210,000 (about US$343) per person at the bank, before returning to the centres to deposit their receipts.

Following the unexpected crowd turnout, the process became rowdy, with applicants tussling for space to get served first.

“There was scrambling as a result of poor organisation by the school authorities. There was no security to control [the applicants] and restore some order,” Peter Ngole from the University of Bamenda, and one of the applicants, told University World News.

According to Etuge, the registration process was on a first-come, first-served basis, but some applicants wanted to outsmart their mates, which led to some disorder.

Cameroon higher education authorities condemned the chaotic scene, blaming it on poor organisation.

“The registration process in all state universities in Cameroon is done online. The organisers of this language exam should have followed the same procedure,” Higher Education Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo said over state radio in reaction to the incident.

However, the organisers of the language exam said the application process had no intermediaries to avoid the scamming of applicants that often characterised such examination procedures, a notice at the application centre noted.

Graduate unemployment

The scramble for this language test to obtain visas, academics say, shows the high rate of graduate unemployment in the country, which has increased during the past two years. As a result, many are seeking to leave Cameroon for greener pastures.

“When graduates can’t find jobs in their [home] country they are obliged to seek elsewhere. This is the same scenario all over Africa,” Professor Emmanuel Yenshu of UB’s department of sociology told University World News.

An estimated 23.6 million young Africans (aged 15-35), including graduates, are unemployed, with this figure projected to grow to 27 million by 2030. The need for jobs elsewhere is, therefore, critical, an article in The Conversation stated.

Canada as a study destination

Apart from graduates seeking jobs, information from the Canadian immigration service says international students are a top priority in the country’s new targets.

The report says Canada is seeing a surge of international student applications for higher education after a period of enrolment declines during the COVID pandemic, with a good number coming from Africa.

“Canada’s expanding immigration programme means more opportunities for international students in the country to remain after graduating from Canadian higher education institutions,” a December 2023 news release by the Canadian government stated.

“We recognise the significant social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to Canada, and for those benefits to continue, we must address challenges to the integrity of the International Student Program,” the release noted.

It recognises that international students “are talented, bright and deserving of a positive experience as they pursue their studies in Canada”.

Eight of Canada’s top-10 fastest-growing student populations are from African countries with Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Algeria among the top-10 on the list, according to a news report in Business Insider Africa.

This is despite the challenges – including racial prejudices – that students appear to face during their visa approval processes.

In the five years between 2018 and 30 April 2023, officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reportedly rejected 59% of the visa applications from English-speaking Africans and 74% from French-speaking Africans seeking to study in Canada’s colleges and universities.

In 2022, the disapproval rates were ere 62% for applicants from English-speaking African countries and 66% for applicants from French-speaking African countries, University World News reported.

Apart from Canada, African students constituted nearly half of all foreign students in France in 2023, University World News reported on 25 April.

The report said, of that number, the Sub-Saharan African region led with 95,285 students, almost 24% of all the foreign students (412,087) in France. The 95,285 figure represented an increase of 34% over the past five years.

The reasons for the popularity of France among Africans seeking university education in Europe is attributable to a number of factors, including language and the search for quality education abroad, the report said.

Source: University World News