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Forty years of partnership in Cameroon

(April 2009) At the invitation of the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI), SIL has served the peoples of Cameroon through language development for 40 years. The partnership between the people of Cameroon and SIL was celebrated on 24 April in Yaoundé with the theme, Connecting People through Language. Four individual ceremonies addressed partnerships with Rainforest International School, partnering organizations, friends and SIL staff.

Officials in the main ceremony

Dignitaries view materials printed in local languages. Dignitaries view materials printed in local languages.

The 2008 Annual Report of SIL Cameroon was unveiled to an assembly of 150 government officials, diplomats, and administrative authorities.

  • Maurice Doube, Secretary General of MINRESI
  • René Olinga Meke, Secretary General of the Ministry of Basic Education
  • Nelis van den Berg, General Director, SIL Cameroon
  • Henny Thormoset, President of the Executive Committee, SIL Cameroon
Visitors view photos and alphabets from local languages. Visitors view photos and alphabets from local languages.

Timeline of SIL work in Cameroon

  • 1969: Agreement with the Federal University of Cameroon
  • 1974: Language development and research projects total 14
  • 1975: Agreement with National Office of Scientific and Technical Research (ONRST)
  • 1978: Recognized as an Association by the Territorial Administration
  • 1978: Property acquired for the SIL training facility
  • 1980: "Discover Your Language" course initiated for Cameroonians to develop mother-tongue programs
  • 1987: Agreement signed with MINREST (formerly ONRST)
  • 1980's: SIL encourages the development of two new Cameroonian organizations, CABTAL and the National Association of Cameroonian Language Committees
  • 1993: New agreement signed with MINREST (now MINRESI)
  • 2002: Ministry of External Affairs grants diplomatic status nationally to SIL

Language statistics and the contribution of SIL Cameroon

SIL currently provides linguistic consultation to many of the 286 language groups spoken in Cameroon. During its 40-year history, more than 125 language communities have been served.

SIL's linguistics library in Cameroon provides over 20,000 volumes which are available to the community. Although the library is not a public library, SIL encourages both researchers and the general public to reference the collections.

SIL Cameroon has published hundreds of documents: phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, locally-authored literature and translated materials in dozens of Cameroonian languages. Some have been published, but many can be downloaded free of charge.

SIL International as a partnering organization

SIL's field linguists serve ethnolinguistic people groups by working in partnership with them and with local organizations to collect, analyze, organize and publish language and culture data.

Strategic partnerships between SIL, national governments, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions create a network of expertise and resources to equip members of local language communities for leadership roles in their own language development efforts.

As an international nongovernmental organization, SIL has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and formal consultative relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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