University of Buea: After failed harmonization Plan, Faculty of Social and Management Science Board announces split of Faculty 0

The Faculty of Social and Management Science, FSMS, University of Buea has addressed attempts by government to create three new faculties and schools out of the current structure and to merge the social science facet with the Faculty of Arts. We gathered that the Faculty board recently met to strategize on the widespread reforms by the Ministry of Higher Education on the University of Buea curriculum. The Wednesday 5th of October 2016 meeting that held inside the campus and chaired by the Dean, Prof. Martha S. Tumnde, didn’t agree to some of the new formulation of three faculties with brand new nomenclatures such as; Law and School of Law, Social Sciences, and Economics and Management respectively. The partitioning of the Law school was however accepted.

The background information about the imminent creation of these faculties was transmitted to the Ministry of Higher Education. The proposals were mainly on the Social Sciences intended to be merged with the Arts to generate into the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/Humanities. It is expected that the Faculties of Law and Law School, Economics and Management and a School of Journalism and Mass Communication would stand out. The three structures initially were envisaged against the backdrop of an argument that the Social Sciences were going to bolster the Faculty of Arts financially. A 2008 proposal by UB officials for higher education authorities to scraped Law off the FSMS which would have led to the birth of a School of Law went futile.

The Board on the procedure and validity of the planned merger of the Social Sciences with the Arts observed that; firstly, the merger had no scientific basis as they were independent faculties in English speaking Universities. The latter and Social Sciences were markedly different in terms of content and approach. Secondly, the Board argued that the splitting of the FSMS was to decongest its size, then merging the departments of Geography, Women and Gender Studies, Sociology and Anthropology and Political Science and Public Administration with the Faculty of Arts would also lead to congestion of the new Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The board suggested that, it will not be proper to remove the nomenclature “Social Sciences” which has been used since the inception of the University of Buea because this Nomenclature “Social Sciences” reflects the Anglo-Saxon tradition and dream of education and not Arts and Social Sciences as obtains in the Francophone system.

Moreover, the Social Sciences disciplines have the prospects of growing with the creation of new programmes such as Social Work, Development Studies, Psychology, Demography, Urban and Regional Planning, some of which have been solicited to develop over the years. Lastly, the board also noted that the Social Science disciplines have been offering Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science and Not Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Art. The association with the Arts as Humanities will create problems of continuity and consistency that may cast doubts on our degrees especially out of the country. They also argued that the scientific approach with UB’s Social Sciences was an asset that ought to be maintained by creating its own autonomous faculty. The choices of the students who opted for this model should also be respected. In addition, the merger of the Social Sciences and Arts is a regression in intellectual development giving that these disciplines have moved apart a long time ago.

The faculty board at the end of the Letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor of UB urged the University and the Ministry of Higher Education to review the plan and leave the Social Sciences as an autonomous entity.  At press time we gathered that the text of application to legalize the new faculties if finally promulgated will go operational this 2016/17 academic year. This implies that new students who had apply to read degrees in Sciences would be left with no option than to enrol in the Art degree program. Some observers say the imminent reforms are fallouts of the failed attempt to harmonize the country’s higher education system.

The desire to destroy and crackdown on Anglophone education is old and all a calculated attempt to ruin the hard earned genuine value and status the Anglo-Saxon system has achieved in contemporary times. The Ministry of Higher Education was represented by English speaking Prof. Gabsa Sixtus.

By Cham Victor Bama in Buea