The Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation, a non-governmental organization funded and supported by the Group Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, has celebrated the 2016 Children’s Day with a National Education Summit.
The summit, which had its theme as: “Education in Nigeria: Effectively Managing Abuse, Violence and Security Issues”, had in attendance experienced facilitators, government functionaries, private sector, other partnering NGOs and over 1,000 students from various public and private schools. The aim of the summit was to find lasting solutions to some of the problems confronting children in Nigeria.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Foluke Ademokun, Executive Coordinator of the foundation, noted that it was imperative to be strategic in the celebration of the annual Children’s Day, beyond eating, playing and dancing alone. According to her, there is a need to inculcate in the Nigerian child certain skills that would enable them function better in the society.
She said: “Gone are those days when parents, teachers and custodians believe in hoarding certain information from the children because they were considered young. The dynamics of today’s competitive world makes it necessary to provide them with information and skills that would provide them the platform to contribute better to the society.”
She further noted that the issue of violence and abuse against children has become rampant and the summit would seek to teach the children on how to spot and report abuses around them.
In his goodwill message to the children, Mr. Idowu Ademosu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Social Development, Lagos State, told the children that government is readily available to assist the children wherever and whenever they face challenges. He urged the children to remain focused and reminded them that the act of using canes in schools is no longer acceptable and it is a form of abuse. Ademosu noted that it is important for the children to be vigilant and should report any form of abuse to them or any child around.
“Do not allow anybody spoil your future, if anybody threatens you that they will kill you if you report them, don’t mind them, they cannot do anything. Report immediately any form of abuse you notice. I want you to memorise the numbers 767 and 112, it is important for you. We also have a Child Protection Unit in the Ministry which you can contact always and we will respond to you,” he said.
In her own submission, Actress and Founder of the Arise Monalisa Foundation, Monalisa Chinda-Coker, explained to the children that the digital age has provided them with veritable platforms for them to achieve all that their hearts desire. She said that with the introduction of ICT tools, children of today are better equipped for towering success, while urging them to make good use of the internet for positive purposes. The actress also explained to the children some forms of abuse which are- child beating, child molestation, child rape, child hawking and many more.
Another speaker and representative of the Mirabel Center, Juliet Olumuyiwa, who delivered her own speech, noted that the center has over 1,400 cases of sexual abuses and out of these figures, child sexual abuse is about 1,300. She noted that parents, schools, wards and every Nigerian should remain vigilant and security conscious especially in protecting children due to their vulnerable nature.
The Deputy Director, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Omojola Titi, who stood in for the Director Genral, Saleh Mbanefo, counseled the students to embark on educational tourism in order to broaden their knowledge.
Other panelists at the event urged the children to remain worthy ambassadors of their families and not indulge in any immoral behaviours that could destroy their future.