I have been on the journey of being an Ethicist for Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for Children® for the precious African children for all of my professional life as a Social Development Attorney.

I have been blessed with the rare privilege of making meaningful contributions to the noble efforts of leading local and international organisations UNICEF, SOS Children’s Village International, the British Council, RoLAC, USAID, UNFPA (just to mention a few) to establish a System of Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for the Precious African Child.

My work with the British Council started in 2013 when the organisation spotted my work within the school system. In 2016 I was privileged to co-facilitate the first-ever British Council Child Protection awareness event for school counsellors in Nigeria, with Andrea Watkins, who was the Interim Regional Child Protection Manager for the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) & Sub-Saharan Africa. As a follow up to that program, the British Council had decided that every of their program within the school system must have a Child Protection component, considering the importance of Child Protection to the organisation and the running of a school.

So, there was a 2-day program in 2017 of school leaders within the private sector from across the country. I was there in a dual capacity, as a British Council School Leadership validated trainer and an S.A.F.E® for Children (Child Protection) Ethicist and trainer. The last session on day 2 was dedicated to Child Protection, which I had the privilege of facilitating.

After my presentation, I had a conversation with a prominent school leader, which became one of the mental memorabilia of that program and my journey as an S.A.F.E® for Children Ethicist and I am not too sure it is a pleasant one. One of the school leaders within the private sector confidently whispered as a spontaneous response to my presentation, ‘Mr. Akinlami Child Protection does not sell a school.’

That statement seems pregnant to me. Is that the view of most schools, if that is the view of an informed school leader in Nigeria? If truly, from the assessment of an experienced school leader, Child Protection is not a Unique Selling Point for a school and parents are the customers, could she be speaking of her observation of the disposition of parents to this issue? Could this be the reason why both public and private schools do not consider child protection as a priority, as it is believed it has no impact on their bottom line?

Today, I invite you as a school leader, parent, policymaker, regulator or even a child, who may stumble on this write-up to interrogate this assertion of a leading practitioner. Is she right in her assessment? If she is right, what do we think to sell a school if the assurance of a system of protection of our precious children from abuse does not?? If she is not right, how do we begin to change a belief system that seems to put the lives of our precious children on the line? What do we think is the BEST-INTEREST-OF-THE-CHILD quotient of this statement? How do we think this statement being interrogated here fit into the #NOPROTECTIONNOSCHOOL campaign?

Catch here the broadcast of our launch of the campaign here https://youtu.be/d3SR1ydXoac

Thank you and do have an INSPIRED week ahead,

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