The history of The University of Bamenda is inextricably linked to that of the Cameroon College of Arts, Science and Technology (CCAST) and Ecole Normale Supérieure Annex (ENSAB) Bambili. The University of Bamenda germinated out of a local initiative hatched in 1962 following reforms in the Educational Policy of West Cameroon. The process was facilitated by the then Prime Minister and later Vice President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon Dr. John Ngu Foncha.Â Foncha’s vision rested on the standard of higher learning reflective of the Nigerian Colleges of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST). This wish was even more urgent because by 1961, the number of university graduates was grossly inadequate to cope with the senior staff demands of the new nation state. There were slightly over twenty university graduates in the Southern Cameroons by 1962 and the top civil service jobs by dint of this limitation were dominated by expatriates, mostly Nigerians and British.
It was in dire need to allay this problem that the West Cameroon Government through its Education Policy Paper of July 1963 envisaged CCAST as a future college of the Federal University of Cameroon created in 1962. In the context of the imagination, it was to assume the status of an American Junior College or the English Polytechnic. This dream was somehow constrained by logistics and human resources. This perhaps explains why in 1963 when CCAST was transferred from its temporary site at GTTC Kumba to Bambili, USAID came in to lend support to firmly establish the institution, especially in the Science Department. This took place under the auspices of Dr. David Laird, USAID Adviser on Education, and Dr. William Stanley, Adviser on Science of Education. Mr. H. O. H. Vernon Jackson from the United States became the pioneer Principal .The USAID ground breaking mission was quite brief (1962 to 1963).Â Mr. Sylvester Dioh stands out prominent as one of the key Cameroonian figures in the early development of CCAST Bambili. In December 1963, CCAST was transferred to its present site in Bambili and Dioh appointed as Principal.
Between 1964 and 1966, landmark initiatives took place in CCAST which inaugurated the forty-three years (1967-2010) march towards an Anglo-Saxon styled University of Bamenda. Early in 1964 when Mr. (and later Dr.) Elias M. Nwana assumed interim responsibility as Principal of CCAST while Dioh went abroad for further studies, they thought it prudent to allay the acute dearth of trained teachers in Anglophone Cameroon secondary schools by giving a one-year pedagogic training to GCE A-Level holders to equip them with contents and aptitudes to teach in secondary schools. Besides, it was also a unique opportunity for Grade II teachers who were admitted along with secondary school leavers to prepare themselves for entry into universities. In 1966, the initiative was put in place and an Advanced College of Education attached to the then CCAST Bambili was initiated. A dozen students were enrolled to take the course.
In spite of this initial mobilisation, the program did not take-off successfully because the Government stopped the scheme.
In 1967, the Government through Ministerial Decision No. 38 of September 13, 1967 created an annex of the Advanced Teacher Training College, (ENS) Yaounde, the School of Education of the Federal University of Cameroon specialised in the training of teachers. In accordance with the text creating the school, three programs (series) were opened and the following students became the pioneer graduates.
1. Mbom Peter
2. Ntali Stephen
3. Sone Ferdinand
1. Ayeah Philip Ngam
1. Ndenge Alphonsus
2. Tembi Joseph
3. Uzoh Alfred
This graduation list was made public on 17 September 1968 by Mr. Towa the Dean of Studies, ENS-Yaounde.
The 1967 decision establishing this institution stipulated that ENS Annex Bambili (ENSAB) would be jointly administered with CCAST. In this arrangement, the Principal of CCAST acted as Director-Delegate of ENSAB. It was in this context that Mr. Dioh cumulated the functions of Principal of CCAST and pioneer Director-Delegate of ENSAB from 1967 to 1970. After Mr. Dioh, six other Director-Delegates piloted the affairs of the institution. These in chronological order were:
1 Mr.Omer Weyih Yembe – 1970 / 1971
(Director Delegate andÂ Principal of CCAST)
2Â Dr. A. S. Bokosah – 1971 / 1974
3Â Mr.Â A.Â T.Â M. Mofor – 1974 / 1989
4 Dr. Omer Weyih Yembe – 1989 / 1993
5 Prof. Moses Fon Asanji – 1993 / 2000
6 Prof. Victor Bong AmazeeÂ – 2000 / 2004
7 Prof. GwanfogbeÂ Mathew Basung – 2004 / 2010.
From September 1967 to December 14, 2010 when the President of the Republic announced the creation of The University of Bamenda, many developments took place, the most significant of which was the ever increasing yearly intake and number of graduates the institution annually produced. Appreciating that ENSAB has come of age especially in terms of the student enrolment and the ever pressing need for higher learning opportunities in the region, the President’s 14 December 2010 solemn pronouncement of; “I am pleased to announce to you the creation of The University of Bamenda” during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Armed Forces at the Grandstand in Bamenda drew inexpressive euphoria from the length and breadth of the North West Region.Â Before this historic proclamation, theÂ Higher Education setting in Bambili had just undergone some transformation. In 2009, Ministerial Decision No. 000009/MINESUP/ of 27 March 2009 by Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education, brought drastic reforms in ENSAB. The institution was given a full-fledged status with the creation of 18 departments integrating training for general and technical education teachers for secondary schools. The pioneer head of this new phase was Prof. Gwanfogbe Mathew Basung, hitherto theÂ Director-Delegate of ENSAB assisted by Dr Lukong Keneth Mengnjo.Â Meanwhile following Decree No. 2010/372 of 14 December 2010 creating The University of Bamenda, ENSAB was divided into two professional Teacher Training Schools; Higher Teacher Training College (HTTC), to train teachers of Secondary General Education and Higher Technical Teacher Training College (HTTTC), to train teachers of Secondary Technical Education. The two schools were piloted by Prof. Gwanfogbe Mathew Basung and Dr. Lukong Keneth Mengnjo as Acting Directors respectively, positions they held till October 2011 when the pioneer Vice Chancellor was installed.
It is worth mentioning that the March 8, 2011 decree organising The University of Bamenda contained 96 articles which inter alia highlighted the Anglo-Saxon character (art.1) of the University and proposed six faculties and five schools (art.49) to go operational within the ambit of the resources available. These are;
The Faculty of Arts,
The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences,
The faculty of Law and Political Sciences,
The Faculty of Education,
The Faculty of Health Sciences
The College of Technology
The Higher Institute of Commerce and Management
The Higher Institute of Transport and Logistics
The Higher Teacher Training College
The Higher Technical Teacher Training College
On Friday September 30, 2011, Professors Mvogo Dominique and Tafah Edward Oki Edokat were appointed by the Head of State respectively as Pro-Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bamenda. OnÂ Monday 3 October 2011, they were formally commissioned into officeÂ by the Minister of Higher Education and Chancellor of Academic Orders, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, as the pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Vice Chancellor respectively of The University of Bamenda. As a mode of procedure to establish a working agenda for an effective take-off of the university, the Vice Chancellor summoned two Senate meetings on 18 October 2011 and 1 March 2012 respectively. These culminated in the convening of the First University Council by the Pro-Chancellor on 2 March 2012 where landmark resolutions were taken to guide the operational framework of the University.
Earlier in December 2011, a Ministerial decision appointed the University officials from the ranks of Deputy Vice Deans, Heads of Division, Heads of Department and some Chiefs of Service. These personnel were commissioned on 21 December 2011 to their respective posts of responsibility. Closely associated with this development was the recruitment of 102 Assistant Lecturers from varied disciplines and some Administrative Assistants within the framework of the Presidential 25.000 recruitment scheme and numerical replacement of lecturers.
In 2012 new steam was injected into the University’s administration with the appointment of Deputy Vice Chancellors, the Registrar, Deans and Directors of Schools and Faculties. These pioneer senior appointee were:
1) Prof. Etienne ZE AMEVLA – DVC-TIC
2) Prof. DASHACO John T.DVC – ICE
3) Prof. NDIVA MBUA – DVC-RCB
4) Prof. Carl M. F. MBOFUNG – Registrar
5) Prof. PETTANG Crispin – Director of DPPI)
6) Dr. Roselyn JUA – Director of Academic Affairs
7) Mr. Soyang Evaristus – Director of Administrative Affairs
8) Mr. Patrice LUMUMBA – Director of Financial Affairs
9) Prof. LUKONG Cornelius – Director of HTTC
10) Prof. AKUME Daniel A. – Director of HTTTC
11) Prof. TABOD Charles T. – Dean FS
12) Prof. KUABAN Christopher – Dean FHS
13) Dr. EGBE John EBAI – Director HICM
14) Prof. EJOH Richard – Director COLTECH
There is no gain saying that the University of Bamenda, one of the 8 State universities currently existing bloomed out not only from the CCAST complex vision as well as from the ENSAB idea, but more importantly, emerged from the deliberate design of the Head of State, President Paul Biya who created the University “not merely to recount what has been but also to share in moulding what should be” – The University of the Future, we dare say.