Increse Parents Teachers Forum: They Came, They Discussed and They AgreedINCRESE
By Amatesiro Dore
The parents made time to attend. Men like Elijah B. Unukhaso (father of a budding participant and an outstanding peer educator), Alhaji Othman Abdul (his ward would graduate by December), Usman M. Goro (our most faithful focal person at Government Day Science College, Tunga), Mr Lawrence Okoro (who successfully ushered in several sets of participants from Zarumai Model School for almost four years), our most honourable Umar Musa and many other teachers, school principals and their assistants. Special shout out goes to Mrs Amaka Okoye, Helen Joseph, Balkis Yunusa, Zainab Muhammad, Aishatu Abdullahi, Falilatu Abdulmalik, Lydia Oyebode, Hajiya Nura Ibrahim and the many other women who forsook weddings, siestas and an afternoon of rest to honour the invitation of the International Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Increse) in Minna, Niger State.
At 1.15 p.m., the inaugural Parents Teachers Forum of 2017 commenced and the theme was Early Marriage: the Implications for the Career and Wellness of the Girl Child. The welcome address by Mr Ben Tume was fondly remembered for his wit, temperament and patience in explaining the aims and objectives of the Hajara Usman Girls Leadership Programme. After which he introduced his co-facilitators (Ejike Anselem Okoye, Samson Aken’Ova and Ladi Dilli) in the work to make Minna and environs a girl-friendly, women-empowering and rights-respecting community. He also emphasised the importance and role of our attendees whose support, participation and encouragement have made our work at Increse possible, approved by parents and well received by our host communities.
It was a very interactive and mind-opening meeting. We discussed our course outlines with parents, our curriculum was brought before their ears and our methodology was politely explained. This is how we get parents, teachers and guardians into becoming willing and informed developmental partners that have sustained our existence in the last seventeen years. We thereby create a network of informed supporters in our local communities. Our attendees were shown how to present their arguments in favour of the girl child and taught how to improve local health statistics and human right indexes by providing a safe and healthy environment for their wards and children.
The forum was also an opportunity to show appreciation to the parents, teachers and guardians who continue to make their wards and children available to attend and participate in our programmes. Parents, teachers, guardians and school administrators in attendance represented institutions such as Hilltop Model School, Model Day Science College (Tundun Fulani), Government Science College (Tunga), Zarumai Model School, Maryam Babangida Girls Science College, Scholars Academy, Day Secondary School (Limawa), Army Day Secondary School, Government Girls Secondary School (Airport Road), Bosso Secondary School, Government Day Secondary School (Minna), Government Girls Day Secondary School (Minna) and many others.
Our invited parents, teachers and school administrators also made meaningful contributions on how to make our projects more impactful and more beneficial to their local communities. They endorsed the rights of the girl child and proffered solutions on how to remedy the local stigmas and stereotypes associated with the girl child. The discussions and conversations around the theme showed that none of the attendees harboured uncultured and backward opinions about the girl child. Rather, it was evident that they were willing collaborators for the advancement of the rights and privileges of the girl child. This forum simply served to solidify their resolve and sharpen their arguments for the advancement of the girl child.
Most importantly, the attendees were informed of the number of early marriages that Increse had stopped and discontinued. And they were sensitised to report any such infringements in their local communities and institutions to Increse for appropriate intervention and rescue of the girl child. The forum was also an opportunity for attendees to report other human right abuses and family difficulties in their local communities that required the intervention of Increse and our developmental partners.
At the end of the forum, after two hours of brainstorming and interactive sessions, refreshments were served and attendees were encouraged to take advantage of the social media platforms of Increse, to discover more information, send messages and to spread the word about the education and empowerment of the girl child.