A lovely classroom scene is featured on the obverse of our Cameroon 500 franc banknote. It appears as if a classroom demonstration is taking place, with one student at the blackboard illustrating the alphabet to others, How important education is! And how commendable that education is being celebrated on our banknote.
The Central Africa CFA franc is a common currency among 6 central Africa states. The capital “U” in the top left and right corners is what distinguishes this particular banknote as originating from Cameroon. In 2002, the year of issuance of our banknote, (see back lower right corner), U designated Cameroon, whereas the other 5 nations are designated as follows: T – Republic of Congo, M – Central African Republic, A – Gabon, F- Equatorial Guinea, C- Chad.
In the earliest days of independence from the colonial era, 1972-1976, education in Cameroon was split between the French system of teaching with the French language, and the British system of teaching and the English language. The two methods and languages in one country were considered a testament on unity between east Cameroon and West Cameroon. But not only are the languages different, but the logic of the instructional methods are different, and it became recognized that the differences were creating some, perhaps unnecessary, confusion. English is now the primary language in education in Cameroon. The constitution of Cameroon states: “the State shall guarantee the child’s right to education [and that] primary education shall be compulsory“.
Cameroon became a German colony in the late 19th century. Following Germany’s defeat in WW1, by a League of Nations mandate, France and Great Britain came to control portions of the territory. Following WW2 an independence movement began and was resisted by the French. Cameroon gained independence on January 1, 1960.