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Meet UB Male Student Who Pays Fees From Hairdressing 

By Anna Ngoran Labiv*

Edmund Ewang Ndikum is 24 years old. He is a Level 400 Economics student at the University of Buea, UB. Whenever he is free from the grind of Economics lectures,   Ewang, clean-shaven with low cut hair, is an itinerant hairdresser; to augment his tuition.

Ewang says he learnt hairdressing from his mother. He adds that his mother provided him with most of the equipment needed for his business when he decided to sponsor himself through university. The student says hairdressing is very profitable, earning him enough money to fund his education, while he remits some to his family.

Going to school and hairdressing are not altogether a bed of roses. Ewang says his grades are not the best and he has to spend an extra year at the university to complete his degree course. He says he hopes to find a good job, but would continue with hair dressing.

A customer, Caroline, thinks that Ewang is one of the best hairdressers in Buea and that his rates are moderate. Ewang is not alone in the odd job market between lectures. Clarisse Yaya, a Level 400 student of the Department of Banking and Finance at UB, works as a phone booth operator to supplement what her parents provide as school needs. Yaya only works in the evenings and during the weekends.

Another Level 400 Economics student, John Nfor, says he earns FCFA 30.000 monthly, working at a cyber café everyday from 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm, to support himself and his elder brother at school. He also sends some money to his mother in the village, so that his siblings can also attend school. Living between the amphitheatre and cyber café is not easy for Nfor. Said he to The Post; "I failed most of my Level 200 courses because I concentrated too much on my job and ignored my studies."

Nfor also has little or no time for friends or pleasure, That notwithstanding, he is contended that working and going to school is advantageous because it enables him to support his family.
Other students do various odd jobs to sustain themselves at the University. Mirabel Mbuton, a Level 300 Sociology student sells second-hand clothes and jewelry to students. The business keeps Mirabel on the move to faraway markets in Douala and her room is always cramped and untidy, while taking a toll on her academic performance.

Another UB student from the Department of History says she sells cooked beans and puff-puff with her mother in the evenings besides hawking parched groundnuts and chips to her friends on campus. She intends to add fried potatoes and eggs on her menu. The student says she faces no difficulties with her school work because she sells in the evenings only and her mother helps her during examination periods.

Cletus Tendoh, a Level 300 Geography student cultivates beans, maize, plantains, groundnuts and other foodstuff on two large farms given to him by an uncle. Tendoh says proceeds from the produce are invested in his education. The Geography student has been given another farm in Muyuka, where he intends to plant cocoa and fruits like oranges and pawpaw.

While Tendoh toils on the farm, one male student (names withheld) says he scams because his parents stopped sponsoring him when he failed to graduate after three years. He confided in The Post that he has spent six years at UB but hopes to graduate in December 2009. If Ewang does hair to fund his education, Yaya punches buttons on a keypad to supplement her school needs. Nfor helps out in a cyber café, while others sell cooked beans and humble puff-puff and yet others scam for a living. A female student (names withheld) says she sweats out her livelihood with rich men without the knowledge of her parents.

The Political Science student said this year, one man has already paid for her rents and given her money for fees. According to her, prostitution is the fastest means of getting cash for her education. When The Post asked her if she would continue with the business of easy virtue after graduation, she replied that she hopes to find better gainful employment. The prostitute cum student advises other girls not to indulge in this strenuous line of business because one could easily catch STDs also.

(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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