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Background of Social Service in Cameroon.
From palliative Assistance to profitable Social.
Fifty years of social service in Cameroon.

The origins of Social Service are mixed up with mankind history, even though there has not been a formal institution as such, social spirit is at the basis of human relationships. In Cameroon, it is from the prism of certain legislation that the preludes of Social Service can be defined. Indeed, long before the independence, many texts can be considered as basis of the evolution towards the Ministry of Social Affairs today.


It begins with decree of November 30, 1928 to institute special jurisdictions and probation system; followed by order of October 28, 1933 instituting an educative centre for Mulatto and Blacks orphans or abandoned; decree of October 30, 1935, relative to child protection, or order n° 3234 of November 22, 1947 on the creation of Social and Cultural Affairs.
From 1950, appears the “Social Service” expression with order n° 2763 of August 01, 1950, to create within the High Commissioner of the French Republic in Cameroon, the Social Affairs and Population in short “Social Service”. Its attributions were: studies of administrative questions of social development of the territory; implementation of a regulation and programme of social realisation, in relation with the Public Health Department, Public Instruction Department and regions, practical realisations directly managed by the Social Service, or by regions and subdivisions; coordination on the social plan of the action of Departments and Services of the High Commissioner and regions; control and coordination of private social structures grant-aided or not by the State or Territory and training of local social staff.
The Social Service was at the same time in charge of relationships with international and national, official or private Institutions, interested in social structures, according to the case and in connection with the Political and Administrative Affairs Department or Cabinet Department (international relations, UNO...)
In 1951, decision n°673 of February 1951, of the High Commissioner of the French Republic in Cameroon (Name), exonerate imposts, gross proceeds or directly made and destined to the Territory Social Service. Two years later, the first training school of local social staff and even Black Africa; African Educative and Familial (CESFAS) Social Centre is created by order n° 325 of May 28, 1953. This private institution which has formed the first batch of local social staff closes its doors few years later in 1956.
During this period, the Social Service organises itself around the fight against juvenile delinquency, assistance to persons with visual deficiencies and protection of early childhood. The following measures related to both the organisations targeting specific social problems and putting in place of appropriated services are recorded:
In 1952, the circular letter of November 29, 1952 of the Secretary of State to the French Overseas determines cooperation modalities between the Social Affairs Service in one hand and Health Services, Education and factory inspection, on the other hand.
On March 1952, Order n°1315 creates the Cameroonian Childhood Institution (ICE) following the international Conference held at Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania in 1952 on childhood delinquency in which took part representatives of African countries, of which Cameroon. This institution receives its first boarders on December 06, 1952. The Cameroonian Childhood Institution of Betamba destined to receive morally and materially abandoned children who are confided by a judicial decision for their monitoring and education.

They were followed by other texts among which are:

  • The deliberation of April 29, 1953 on the aid to persons with visual deficiencies;
  • The order n° 780 of October 29, 1953 to fix modalities attributing monthly allowances to indigenous persons with visual deficiencies;
  • The ministerial order of December 03, 1953 to regulate the attribution of helps granted on the French Overseas budget as well as general and local budgets of Overseas territories;
  • The order n°4379 of September 03, 1953 to approve the Reception and Observation Centre of Douala-Bonakouamouang for the care delivery to the under ages of less than 16 Years, on the condition that they have been referred to justice, left their parents and abandoned by them;
  • The order n°662 of February 1953 to create in Douala an inspection convention for childhood problems in Cameroon and of which the secretariat is ensured by the Social Worker in charge of juvenile delinquency in Douala;
  • The order n° 1758 of April 03, 1953 to regulate the attribution of helps in Cameroon;
  • On July 23, 1953 the Secretary of State to the French Overseas addressed to Mister (Name?) High Commissioner and Chief of Overseas Territories (TOM), a note on the conditions of establishment and functioning of Social Centres in Overseas Territories;
  • The order of July 01, 1954, to fix organisation, administration, and functioning details of the infant house of Deido-Douala which received children of less than 4 years and exceptionally, children of 4-5 years.

In 1956, the first Cameroonian Social Worker trained and graduated in France takes duty, followed by another one in 1957.


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