By Ajibola Abayomi
The Executive Order mandates all Lagos State child centred institutions, schools, health facilities, orphanages and recreational centres to take steps in ensuring that the rights of children are safeguarded.
In September, 2019, an Advocacy group was created after identifying gaps in the policy implementation, especially in schools.The issues of Child safe guarding and Protection especially in schools is disturbing. Action based research has revealed that a good percentage of schools in Lagos state do not have Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy talk more of ensuring the implementation of the policy.
The Advocacy group consist of partners whose work centres on ensuring the safety and well being of children in communities, schools and other child centred institutions in Nigeria.
Amongst these partners were representative from Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), Human Development Initiative (HDI), Sustainable Development Enterprise Development (SEED), Teach for Nigeria, Safety Republic Nigeria, Hope House Counseling, Foundation for Injured Lights Mission and KMO Educational Trust Fund Foundation.
On the 14th of November 2019, The Cece Yara Foundation hosted an advocacy meeting of the Advocacy group members. The goal of the advocacy meeting with these advocacy partners was to strategize on how to effectively implement the advocacy project which borders on Harnessing and Implementing the Lagos State Safeguarding and child protection policy in all Lagos State Schools.
The advocacy project which is supported by Rise Up and Public Health Institute aims at addressing the implementation gaps, resulting in the alarming and growing trend of defilement, child abuse and maltreatment by creating and enforcing a management system that provides a safe environment for children, especially in child-centered institutions.
Esther Osunro, Programs Coordinator of the Cece Yara Foundation, who is also a Rise Up Fellow in her statement emphasised the importance of Child Protection Policy implementation in schools. She stated that “ensuring that school authorities are equipped with trainings on Child Safeguarding and Protection will be of tremendous importance in reducing the percentage of Children who are sexually abused”.
The advocacy team is committed to collaborating with Lagos State Ministry of Education to ensure that the Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy is effectively implemented in all Lagos State Schools.