TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP FOR ADOLESCENT MEETING
Held at the Rivers State Ministry of Justice Hall.
Thursday 2nd December, 2021. Exactly, at 9:00am.
The focus of the meeting was to share update(s) of the final copy of the harmonized action plan, to plan for the 2022 International Adolescent Health Week and to disseminate FLHE finding from SOME implementation.
The meeting was moderated by Mrs. Mbreba Wokoma; Opening prayer was taken by Mrs. Edith Chinago Francis of C.S.S Okom and then, introduction of participants.
Opening remarks by Chairperson (Prof. Akani): appreciates the Technical Working Group for their efforts dealing with the Federal Ministry of Health and its now time to focus back to work and teachers present in today’s meeting are welcome. Teachers are very important, for them to deal with the Adolescents, therefore, we are looking at Teachers as Role Models and helpers that changes the personality of Adolescents for good. The Chairperson urged all Teachers to be part of the discussion and encouraged the Technical Working Group to see other dimension of Adolescent issues. It is not the division, but synergy between the Ministries (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education). We see that every child belongs to everybody.
The reading of the Minute; was done by Mrs. Mbreba Wokoma. Hence, the minute was moved as a working document for the Adolescent working group by Mrs. Joy Nwamaka Joseph and seconded by Captain Dabota.
Sometimes in October, the FMOH (Federal Ministry of Health) visited the State to strengthen the issues the Adolescents face and to achieve this (during the meeting with FMOH, some issues were identified that Adolescents faces, one of such issue is; 1) Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion. So, how do we mitigate and solve this issue, apart from identifying the challenges. There are implementing partners to ensure these objectives are achieved through the stipulated strategies. There three major concerns for the Adolescents, which are: 1) Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion. 2)Rise in Cultism 3) Prevalent Drug Abuse among Adolescent.
Mrs. Njideka of the Federal Ministry of Education suggested, that Ministry of Education should be actively involved in the Technical Working Group and some Schools have Health Facilities, such facilities should be made Adolescent friendly centres.
Chairperson added that, we are trying to see what we can focus on to reduce the challenges Adolescents face, also participating persons/reps, should ensure that information at the Technical Working Group is taking or reported back to their organizations. We are not working in isolation; we are working with anybody and everybody.
Mr. Dennis, added, if we want to talk about “Cultism”, we should know that school’s cultism is different from cultism outside school premises. We have to strategically position advocacy to the leaders of these cult groups.
The Chairperson responded: we need to have “Parental Engagement”, talk to our parents, so that they can talk to the consciences of their children. And then, work-out strategies to talk to those involved in Cultism (the cultists themselves), so that they don’t attack back. First, we need God and then, we need Parents to be bold.
One of our colleagues added that, we have identified Parents and Cult Leaders, next, we need to use the Media (Radio) through regular jingles to sensitize the public. Also, Church/Religious Leaders, we need to talk to them as well. In approaching Cult Leaders, we should address them as “Social Organization Leaders or Youth Leader”, let’s be subtle in our approach. Most Cult Leaders are violent and arrogant in nature.
A Contribution from a Teacher; the teacher is bordered about the steady increase in cult activities. We need to give these youths/Adolescents information that will help them, including students and we need to start from grass-roots (primary schools-class rooms).
Chairperson’s response: Teachers are going to be our “foot-solders”, to ensure the goal of eliminating cultism in Rivers State is achieved. “What Teachers give the Society, is what the Society will build on”. And, as it stands, we cannot afford to do without the Education sector which includes the Teachers.
Mrs. Njideka (FMOE), she emphasized that, we should look at the pressure groups, they have a lot of influences on the Adolescents. Another participant suggested we look at “Social Media”, because a lot of Adolescents spend their time on the phone, browsing and engaging on Social Media.
Smith Nwokocha (P.R.O 2), suggested that; Traditional Rulers should be engaged in achieving the fight against Cultism. Dr. Chidi, was of the opinion that, we form three groups and breakout and discuss these issues.
Furthermore, Dr. Mrs. Smith, added that, in summary, the out-listed plan is the actual plan and we are here to identify any intervention plan to add up to the existing plan.
Jennifer Amadi (Vice Chairperson), our discussion should be based on the final plan. National Orientation Agency (NOA) Rep; said they are doing a lot and are involved in Community Engagement, Mobilization and Advocacy.
Next on the Agenda is “2022 International Adolescent Health Week”; Mrs. Wendy Wokoma, said, this will happen on the 3rd week of March, 20th – 26th, 2022. Youth Ambassadors will be recruited and the theme is “Transition: Laying Foundation for Adolescent Development”. Plan for screening (HIV/AIDS screening/Mental Health Check) for Adolescents in schools and out of school. Carry out activities to create awareness.
Edidiong and Dr. Mrs. Nwamaka Joseph presented on FLHE Programme (CHAI supported Federal Ministry of Education on the expanded FLHE curriculum in Nigeria).
There are three stages of implementation: Experience in implementing the FLHEs in Schools, The Awareness on HIV/AIDS, to see how the curriculum is accepted in schools and then, the Background, The Expanded CSE Overview.
A pilot study of the Effectiveness of an Expanded Family Life Health Education on Adolescents 10-19years in Rivers State as the case maybe. The highlights were focused on the following; The Expanded CSE Overview, problem statement, background on FLHE Curriculum in Nigeria, study rationale. Then, Study Methodology; Results and Findings, Study Assumptions and Limitations, Success and Challenges, Key Lessons Learned, Next Steps and Recommendations.
Teacher sharing Experience Moments:
Teacher from C.S.S. Oroworokwu: FLHE Experience; The Principal appreciates the programme and it has been a big-time impact for the students. The students are excited and even when they have personal issues, they meet the Teachers for counseling. Challenges faced; Covid-19 was the core part of the challenges in implementing the FLHE. Generally, the programme has been good. Counseling has improved. The success of FLHE cannot be over-emphasized.
C.S.S. kom-Kom Teacher Experience: FLHE is a right to every child, looking at what it is giving out. The issue of Cultism, etc, the challenges fall back on FLHE. Success story; students have learnt to develop actual and positive views, especially in the social space (social media). FLHE has helped students to correct these areas, students make healthy decisions, correct information and it has inculcated in them self-esteem and the students now know when to say NO! It has equally helped students to know when to play and when not to play. Possibly, these teachings/FLHE should be extended to other classes of the junior sections apart from the examination classes and the boys should be given attention as well.
Head, Rivers Media for Health and Family Planning; added that, let’s look for 21st century ways to groom our children including our boys. A lot is happening to the Adolescents.
C.S.S. Aluu Teacher Experience: FLHE Programme created awareness among staff and students alike. FLHE sharpens and broaden knowledge of teachers on sexual education.
Edidiong re-emphasized that, discussion should be on continuous learning of FLHE in Schools and also, discuss on improved coordination of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and other relevant MDAs on Adolescents health in the State.
Chairperson, appreciates all for their contributions. She reiterates that we look out for Sponsors for sustainability of FLHE. Also, let’s start with “Health Education Compulsory”. Therefore, we need to start by making it compulsory at Teachers Training College. Parents are not responsible for the gap of knowledge sadly enough. Religiously, that’s how parents are groomed. We need to start talking and engaging our religious Leaders, because that’s also where learning starts from.
Chairperson further stretched that teachers also need the skills to be able to teach and impact Adolescents. CHAI can make this representation and the Ministry of Education will maintain it. Also, Conflict resolution needs to be taught to the students. Part of the challenges of Adolescents face, could be traced to “Decision-Making Skills”, they need to be equipped effectively in this area. Skills in decision-making, should be as a matter of urgency, inculcated to our young ones, our society will be sane. However, we should try as much as possible, to get heads of schools to participate and champion this programme for sustainability.
Mrs. Nwamaka Joseph added that of four (4) states, Rivers state wished to stand alone on the push for FLHE. Most of the teachers, especially those passionate, are doing well, because they have been trained and of course, learnt the methodology in teaching FLHE. If FLHE is actually standing alone, students will be examined and know their stand. As such, FLHE should stand alone and not integrate.
Mrs Njideka further suggested, what we should be doing as a country is to build the capacity of teachers. If FLHE is integrated, it is easier to build capacity for teachers.
Jennifer Amadi’s contribution on the linkage of schools; we can also look at SGBV, though in Rivers State, a lot of NGOs are already doing work in this regard. Helping Schools respond to SGBV issues through Primary Health Centres facilities.
Mrs Uloma in her comment, said; we don’t have enough facilities at the Primary Health Centres, unfortunately. Most Adolescents need confidentiality, they need respect and privacy and with these, you can get any information from them. 23 LGA’s in the State, have two (2) to three (3) Focal Persons and they visit schools, but the linkage facilities are still an issue and it’s challenging. Some of the issues, includes; STIs, Post-Abortion issues etc. In the State, we have over 4000 (plus) Secondary Schools and how many Teachers are taught the FLHE Programme/training. The Primary Health Board is ensuring that facilities in the Health Centres are Adolescent friendly.
Mrs. Wendy Wokoma, in her comment; she emphasized that; “Let’s have a positive outlook about Adolescents’ ‘. Let’s see Adolescents as part of the solution. We need to also have data, to be able to evaluate Adolescent performance in relation to linkage.
Mrs Njideka, added that, Students/Adolescents cannot be referred to facilities without consent of their parents/guardian, because there are counselors in the schools, especially, the in-schools for Adolescents.
Edidiong remarks; Most of the feedback(s) are just remarkable.
Chairperson remarks; We still have a problem on how to coordinate the linkage, but we are making headways.
Closing Remarks by Dr. Mrs. Smith; Several issues have been raised. The FLHE Programme and the needs for Facilities. We will start small, but we will get there. We pray for everyone to get to their destination safely. Thank you.
Closing prayer by Mrs. Mary Obisike.