SAVE THE SOUL OF OUR CHILDREN: A PASSIONATE CASE FOR ESTABLISHING CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM WITHIN THE PRIVATE SCHOOL SECTOR IN NIGERIA Being an Address By Taiwo Akinlami To the Highly Esteemed Members of BOT of APEN At their Meeting held on Tuesday, 02 July 2013

 Introduction

The Chairman of the APEN, Dr. (Mrs.) Femi Ogunsanya and highly esteemed members of Board of Trustees of the trail blazing Association of Private Educators of Nigeria (APEN), committed to LEADING THE WAY in the educational sector in Nigeria and beyond. Thank you for this priceless opportunity to address you today.

I will like to begin by saying that I feel very much at home in your midst because my relationship with you did not start today. It has spanned a period of over 2 years, when I trained the teachers of Ox-bridge Tutorial College. I also facilitated 2 sessions at the 3rd APEN Conference, disseminating The TeacherFIRE™ Revolution and thereafter, I have trained many of the APEN member schools. Permit me to also note that in August 2000, my organisation partnered with Atlantic Hall Education Council, Lagos to train all its pupils on their rights and responsibilities. The event was reported on page 36 of  THISDAY newspaper of Friday, August 25, 2000.

I consider it a priceless opportunity to address you today on the burning and globally-trending issue of Child Protection. I consider it a priceless opportunity for 3 reasons: first, today I am addressing renowned, committed, visionary and nimble educationists, who have not only defined excellence and professionalism in the educational sector, but in whose hand lies the past, present and the future of the sector. I say the past because you are all pioneers of great institutions of learning, recognised and applauded beyond the shore of our great nation, Nigeria and continent, Africa. I say the present, because you are still in the trenches building credible blocks of sustainability and I say the future because you are working smart, hard and selfless to create the next generation of responsible educators in Nigeria and beyond.  

The second reason, I consider it a priceless opportunity to address you is because, advocating for the protection of children is what I am born to do. I believe that if I abandon it, my Creator, who gave me life, has a moral obligation to demand my life from me. Having been rescued from seemingly insurmountable impact of troubled upbringing by the grace and the mercies of God, I will be ungrateful, unfaithful and irresponsible if I do not plead this noble cause. Thus I have made this a lifetime commitment since Sunday, February 16, 1997.

The last reason is that I believe, here is an opportunity for us to again make history in the lives of our children. It is my long-held opinion that every day is a usual day until something happens and things do not happens until human beings, who God gave dominion over the affairs of this world decide to take action in that direction. My goal here is to make today, Tuesday, July 2, which appears as a usual day to become an unusual day in the diary of change in the lives of our children and the educational sector in Nigeria and beyond. It is in the light of the foregoing that I most humbly and respectfully invite you to open up your conscience and listen to my advocacy today.

Calling Your Attention to The United Nations Alarm:

I will like to call your attention as custodians to the report of a recent survey conducted by the United Nations on the state of the world children. The survey sadly reveals that never in the history of our world have the children been under the kind of siege and abuse they are today. The United Nations Survey exposes a shocking picture of physical, emotional, sexual abuses, neglect and mistreatment of children in countries in every corner of the world. The survey declares, ‘while abuse may be at its worst in the developing world, no country is guiltless.’

It is also a major and disturbing trend in Child Protection, the world over today that children are being mostly and are likely to be mostly abused and molested by those, who are closest to them and by those who claim to protect them, including primary care givers like parents/guardians and secondary care givers like nannies, teachers and others and not by strangers as most of us erroneously believe.

Global Frustration

United Nations Survey also reveals ‘International conventions on human rights for children have flatly failed to guarantee protections for the most vulnerable members of society.’

The Big Question

Why has the celebrated national and international legal framework failed woefully to protect our children from abuse?

Our Informed Answer

Having been in the forefront of Child Protection through the instrumentality of the law in the last 16 years and working with UNICEF in the last 8 years, we have come to the irresistible conclusion that the law as an independent tool of child protection is as powerless as a paper tiger. Therefore, for the law to make sense, it must be mixed with enlightenment. It is our informed position that Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement™ of the laws relating to children and their rights. The strength of enlightenment is that it leads to prevention of child abuse. ‘Prevention is better than cure.’

Enlightenment is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The goal of enlightenment is Child Protection Social Policing™. Child Protection Social Policing™ happens where every primary and secondary custodian within the four (4) institutions (Family, Community, State and International Community) responsible for the protection of the child are equipped with Knowledge (what to do), Skills (how to do it) and Attitude (wisdom and inner strength) to professionally and effectively protect, preserve and defend the rights of the child, even at the cost of personal discomfort.

The United Nations recently supported our position that Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement™ as it submits, responding to child abuse cases is four times expensive as child protection and protecting children against violence and abuse aims at saving cost of families, communities and ultimately the state.

Our Role as Whistle Blower

As an organisation whose mandate is ‘to bring to the very front burner of private and public conscience and consciousness the rights and responsibilities of the Africa child for due respect, IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD,’ we are committed to eradicating child abuse in Africa through enlightenment, which cuts across the Four (4) Rings (Family, Community, State and International Community) of Child Protection.

Having being on the field for over 16 years and trained from within and outside the country in training and establishing Child Protection Systems, according to global standards, the foregoing, we intend to do with our Child Protection Creed Campaign, which seek to equip every custodian in the life of the child with Knowledge (what to do), Skills (how to do it) and Attitude (wisdom and inner strength) to professionally and effectively prevent abuse against children. Apart from educating the custodians, we desire to leave them with Child Protection or Child Safeguarding Policy, which seeks to create a culture of child protection by creating an internal system for child protection.

Our targets are primary custodians (parents and guardians), secondary custodians (teachers and non-academic staff) and the pupils themselves as they have the right to participate and be educated in matters that affect them.

Our Request: A Call to Best Practice

Having partnered with APEN in the past, we seek to further collaborate with the association, to bring to the front burner of the conscience and consciousness of the private school system in Nigeria the inevitable message of Child Protection, thereby becoming our Child Protection Social Policing™ Partner within the private school system with the following responsibilities:

  • Short-term: Create an opportunity for us to disseminate our ChildProtectionCREED™ One-Day Academy to the TEACHERS, POLICY MAKERS, ADMINISTRATIVE and SUPPORT STAFF, PARENTS and PUPILS of member schools of APEN both individually and collectively;
  • Long-term: To set up a Child Protection Committee for APEN, to which we offer to serve as consultants to come up with a globally compliant system of Child Protection within the private school system, culminating in drafting a Child Protection/ Child Safeguarding Policy for APEN, which member schools can adapt and be trained on how to implement in their individual schools. Such system and the policy enumerating same can also be hosted on the website of APEN.

Best Practice Defined: Child Protection is today a global trend within and outside the school system. It has become a critical reference point in determining best practice within the school system. It is therefore our professional belief that for today’s teachers and others working directly or indirectly with children to achieve effective service delivery, understanding child protection must become a core and inevitable skill. In my opinion, it becomes unethical to hand over children to teachers and others working within the school system, who lack knowledge of child protection.

In the same vein, we believe that effective parenting is impossible without an understanding of child protection. We also think that when teachers, who are secondary custodians, are trained in child protection and parents, who are primary custodians, are not trained, they make the job of the teachers not only difficult but almost impossible. Our findings also show that today’s parents do not go out of their ways to seek knowledge, therefore the institution of learning, where their children attend have a role to play to be a link to equipping them with the knowledge of child protection. By this effort, our institutions of learning become celebrated change agents in creating a word fit for children.

Conclusion: A Voice Against Child Abuse

The impact of child abuse is eternal except there is divine intervention. Therefore child abuse must be prevented by all noble means possible. For our children to become responsible family men and women, leaders of organisations and responsible citizens, we believe that academic pursuit is critical but it is not enough. We must be concerned about the sanity (heart) of the child, which is what we attack when we abuse the child. The heart of the child is the seat of character and compassion. It must be preserved and protected. It is in THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILDREN, our families and nations to CREATE A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN. We urge you to embrace this challenge.

Thank you for listening and God bless you. Do have an INSPIRED Day.

Yours-in-the-best-interest-of-the-child,

Taiwo Akinlami INSPIRES CHANGE

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