Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy

Problem Statement

Sub-Saharan Africa’s colonial history presents one of the areas for investigating the impact of Western colonialism on a non-Western site. It is apparent that the effect of colonialism is long-lasting, having effects on the currently independent countries in the region which lived under the rule of another nation for decades. One of such cases is Cameroon, a country where the impact of colonialism is still seen today in the bilingual nature of its entire political and social structure (Dupraz, 2019; Lekane, 2017). Upon reviewing the role of colonialism in the development of Cameroon’s education and employment in current studies, the investigator noticed a research gap in the connection between the insufficiencies of the educational system, bilingualism, the Anglophone problem, and the inability of the present colonialism-influenced system to inspire diversification. As an outcome, the history of Cameroon has resulted in a two-language system that divides the communities in the country according to their colonialism past and the use of language.

However, the consequences of such separation go deeper, resulting in the marginalization of groups with less representation in the government and their subsequent political disenfranchisement (Hamann, 2020). On the other hand, the focus of colonialism-based educational systems has led the country to stagnate in its progression past agriculture and natural resource-based economy (Awah, 2018; Monteha, 2018; Nyenti, 2017). The rate of children in schools grows every year; however, not many people get higher education degrees, and the industries in which Cameroonians are engaged in are tied to a limited number of professions (Ashu, 2020; Loveline, 2020). As Ashu (2020) and Nyenti (2017) find, the lack of recognition of the effect of colonialism on the educational system of Cameroon is one of the barriers to its progress. Such studies as those by Loveline (2020) and Ndille (2018) call for decolonization. Arguably, the investigation into the influence of colonialism and its effect on education and employment is vital in order to provide a better theoretical basis for future action.


The intention of the study is to increase the understanding of the link between British and French colonialism in Cameroon and the country’s current educational system with particular attention to graduates’ future employment opportunities. The issue of postcolonial education in the literature is mostly focused on decolonizing the curriculum and finding a way to solve the Anglophone-Francophone problem between communities (Hodieb, 2020). This study offers a look at the consequences of such separation on the employment opportunities of Cameroonians. Furthermore, it aims to investigate the influence of colonialism on the inadequacy of most school curricula for preparing students for a diverse range of jobs and professions.


This study will contribute to the ever-expanding scholarship on colonial influence in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Cameroon, in particular. The effect of colonial systems on states such as Cameroon present significance on their own, as they review the country’s history in relation to its modern living environment, which allows one to derive conclusions and recommendations for future improvement. More than that, with the currently lacking quality of education in the country and high rates of children and young people not attending or dropping out of school, the current topic is rather pressing (UNICEF, 2021). The shift of the focus away from the Anglophone conflict towards employment opportunities serves as a way to reframe the problem. As a result, one may show that the existing research can be used to derive new recommendations for changing the educational system of the country. Thus, the study has potential relevance not only as a source of theoretical data but a realistic view of the underlying issues that prevail in Cameroon’s learning and employment.


For the basis of this study, such keywords and phrases as Cameroon colonialism, colonial education, employment, curriculum decolonization, Anglophone, and Francophone were used together and individually. The databases Emerald, SAGE, SciELO, JSOR, and Google Scholar were among the primary sources of articles. The problem of postcolonial education in Cameroon is examined in the works of Hyasinth (2018) and Ndille and Litt (2018), who pay particular attention to the effect of colonization on the curriculum. Loveline (2020) and Lekane (2017) show the depth of the Anglophone problem and how it affects the quality of learning among students. It is noted by Mbihbiih (2016) that this divide affects more than education, preventing the process of democratization in Cameroon and constraining the building of a united nation.

The colonial history of Cameroon influences many aspects of the nation’s lives, including the people’s heritage and their future opportunities. Echitchi (2019) finds that such conflicts between two languages brought by colonizing countries increase the erasure of local indigenous languages and cultural elements. The educational policies brought on by colonialism affect history curricula and other subjects as well (Ndille, 2018). Diang (2013) argues that the main impact of colonialism is the establishment of an educational system that is alien to Cameroonian and African philosophies. Thus, it is implied that the choices in education are also not suited to develop African society but to further the European worldview.

In another sphere of research, scholars consider the impacts of colonialism on the economic prosperity and future of Cameroon. Nyenti (2017) finds that there exists a connection between colonial rule and the inflow of investment. The author concludes that the regions of Cameroon suffer from separation and still experience the negative consequences of being non-independent (Nyenti, 2017). Nevertheless, there exists a lack of papers that link education and employment through the lens of colonialism in Cameroon. This dearth of investigation prompts the researcher to consider the proposed study as significant.

Theoretical Framework

The study will use postcolonial theory as its analytical framework (Zelera, 2006). The theory is based on several major arguments. One is that, under the influence of colonialism and the following decolonization, people living in former colonies develop a postcolonial identity (Ashu, 2020; Loomba, 2015; Mbembe, 1992). This identity is influenced by the intersection and clash of cultures, languages, political and economic powers, and other factors (Lekane, 2017; Loomba, 2015). Second, the role of Western influence is the retelling of history is questioned, and the point of view is shifted towards scholars writing about their own cultures affected by colonization (Loomba, 2015; Mbembe, 1992). Thus, the issues surrounding power imbalance in politics, economics, religion, and culture are explored through the lens of former colonies rather than colonizers.

The analysis of the outcomes of colonialism and the creation of postcolonial societies are at the center of this framework. Taking Cameroon as an example, Mbembe (1992) shows that postcolonial countries engage not in collaboration or resistance, but “cohabitation.” One may expand this idea and pose that, in modern Cameroon, this idea of cohabitation now divides both the colonizing and postcolonial nations and the communities inside Cameroon influenced by different cultures and political regimes.

Research Questions

The investigation in the present study will be based on several research questions:

  1. How has British-French colonialism in Cameroon affected the formation of the country?
  2. What is the role of bilingualism in education in Cameroon?
  3. What are the effects of colonialism on the country’s employment?
  4. What is the connection between postcolonial education and the choice of professions in Cameroon?

The progression of these questions allows one to examine the history of the country and the consequences of colonialism as a whole. Then, one will move towards the link between colonialism, education, and employment – the research’s aim.

Nature of the Study

Due to the nature of the research questions posed for this study, it will use a qualitative approach. As seen in the problem statement, the topic of colonialism and its link to education and employment requires a more in-depth investigation to present the discussion from a different perspective. For such reviews of specific issues, qualitative methodologies are the most suitable as they allow one to focus on one particular area of knowledge and discover new meaning from existing knowledge or human experiences (Gammelgaard, 2017). Furthermore, the investigator will use a case study as the basic structure. As Gammelgaard (2017) notes, qualitative case studies are often used for “inductive exploration of yet unknown phenomena, i.e. theory generation” (p. 910). As stated above, one of the proposed study’s goals is to find new links in existing ideas and show the problem in Cameroon from a new angle. Thus, a qualitative case study that collects data about the country and investigates it without preconceived hypotheses is the best fit for the discussed research problem.

Possible Types and Sources of Data

The study will utilize two types of data sets – primary and secondary. First, primary data will be collected from a survey administered to a sample of Cameroonians. Using purposive sampling method, a sample of 10-12 people will be selected. This number of participants can be explained by the qualitative nature of the project. A smaller sample allows one to examine each answer in detail, while the purposive sampling strategy can be used to choose participants with different experiences in employment and education in Cameroon. Each survey will contain open-ended questions which will then be analyzed thematically to reveal potential patters and unifying ideas.

The other type of data that will be used in this study is secondary. In particular, existing scholarship (books, working papers, dissertations, theses, and reports) about education and employment in Cameroon will be examined. Most recent studies exploring this topic present valuable knowledge about the current educational curricula in Cameroonian schools, and they note the particular effects of colonialism on bilingualism and education. Furthermore, reliable statistics of education, employment, and industry in the country can serve as a source of data. Such knowledge allows one to see the current state of the country and discuss the potential consequences of colonialism on the communities. Publicly available reports and records, along with journal articles, provide insight into the country’s current environment.

Limitations, Challenges, and Barriers

As the case considers the entire country, the main limitation is the availability of data and the insight of selected participants. In a qualitative study, the number of respondents is limited, and their answers are subjective, showing a small part of the overall possible pool of opinions (Gammelgaard, 2017). Thus, the main limitation in this discussion is the quality of data received. Similarly, in using secondary data, if a particular research question does not have many answers among the existing studies, it may be addressed insufficiently.

The challenges that the author anticipates are:

  1. Finding participants –the author needs to select and contact people who have specific experiences studying and working in Cameroon;
  2. Collecting sufficient primary data – respondents may not want to answer all questions or provide little to no information;
  3. Collecting new secondary data – if the author fails to find new sources discussing Cameroon, the study will have to rely on potentially outdated information.

Finally, the assess to data is a barrier, as much of the information about the country’s current educational and economic systems may be unavailable publicly. Many business reports that discuss the economic potential of an industry or a country are locked behind a paywall. Company or organization reports are internal and will require contacting these entities. If this data is non-existent or unavailable, the author will rely on what is collected from surveys and existing research. The existence of paywalled information is a barrier that can limit the perception of current connections between education and employment.


Ashu, F. E. (2020). Decolonizing the curriculum at Cameroonian universities: The case of the department of education foundation and administration. African Journal of Education and Practice, 6(5), 13-39.

Awah, L. (2018). Leadership and statebuilding in post-colonial Africa: The case of Cameroon. Leadership and Developing Societies, 3(1), 70-94. Web.

Diang, M. C. (2013). Colonialism, neoliberalism, education and culture in Cameroon. College of Education Theses and Dissertations, 52, 1-84.

Dupraz, Y. (2019). French and British colonial legacies in education: Evidence from the partition of Cameroon. The Journal of Economic History, 79(3), 628-668. Web.

Echitchi, R. (2019). Official bilingualism and indigenous language loss: The case of Cameroon. ELIA: Estudios de Lingüística Inglesa Aplicada, 1, 65-88. Web.

Gammelgaard, B. (2017). The qualitative case study. The International Journal of Logistics Management, 28(4), 910-913. Web.

Hamann, S. (2020). Not home-made: Historical and contemporary social policy dynamics in Cameroon. Global Social Policy, 20(3), 286-304. Web.

Hodieb, L. (2020). Multilingualism and language attitude the “Cameroonian paradox”. Ideação, 22(2), 83-96.

Hyasinth, A. N. (2018). Cultural diversity in the Cameroon higher education policy definition: A historical appraisal. Brazilian Journal of African Studies, 3(5), 169-183.

Lekane, G. M. (2017). One country, three colonial legacies: The politics of colonialism, capitalism and development in the pre-and post-colonial Cameroon. Journal for Contemporary History, 42(1), 134-153. Web.

Loomba, A. (2015). Colonialism/postcolonialism (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Loveline, Y. (2020). Optimizing post-colonial bilingual education in Cameroon’s primary and secondary schools: A critic on school practice. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies, 39-53. Web.

Mbembe, A. (1992). Provisional notes on the postcolony. Africa, 62(1), 3-37.

Mbihbiih, N. R. (2016). Europhone divide in Cameroon: Constraining nation-building and democratization in the post-colony. IJASSH, 4(02), 10-21. Web.

Monteha, R. N. (2018). Colonial education system in Africa: The German experience in Cameroon 1884-1916. Sociology, 8(5), 220-231. Web.

Ndille, R. (2018). Our schools our identity: Efforts and challenges in the transformation of the history curriculum in the Anglophone subsystem of education in Cameroon since 1961. Yesterday and Today, (20), 91-123. Web.

Ndille, R. N., & Litt, D. (2018). British and French implementation of colonial educational policies in Cameroon 1916-1961: A comparative analysis. International Journal for Research in Educational Studies, 4(5), 1-18.

Nyenti, E. (2017). The impact of colonial rule on foreign direct investments: Regional inequality in Cameroon. Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 5(11), 212-224.

UNICEF. (2021). Cameroon appeals. Web.

Zeleza, P. (2006). The troubled encounter between postcolonialism and African history. Journal of the Canadian Historical Association/Revue de la Société historique du Canada, 17(2), 89-129. Web.

Make a reference

Pick a citation style


PapersGeeks. (2023, October 26). Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy.

Work Cited

"Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy." PapersGeeks, 26 Oct. 2023,

1. PapersGeeks. "Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy." October 26, 2023.


PapersGeeks. "Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy." October 26, 2023.


PapersGeeks. 2023. "Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy." October 26, 2023.


PapersGeeks. (2023) 'Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy'. 26 October.

Click to copy

This paper on Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Colonial Legacy was created by a student just like you. You are allowed to use this work for academic purposes. If you wish to use a snippet from the sample in your paper, a proper citation is required.

Takedown Request

If you created this work and want to delete it from the PapersGeeks database, send a removal request.