At the on-going project implementation on Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE) in Kaduna State, religious and traditional leaders were sensitized against the alarming rate of child marriage in response to recent reports according to the Chief of Staff to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, which says over 38 per cent of girls in Soba Local Government Area of the state get married before the age of 15 and that the findings was based on the current General Households Survey conducted by the State Bureau of Statistics, and currently being validated by relevant stakeholders. More alarming was the breakdown of the findings per senatorial zones, showing over 32 per cent of girls are married off before age 15 in Kaduna North Senatorial Zone, 15 per cent in Kaduna Central and 17 per cent in Kaduna South.
The facilitator, Martin-Mary Falana, CEO of Kids & Teens Resource Centre gave an overview of the program and objectives of the training. He introduced the O3 (Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future) programme, a UNESCO Education for health and well-being project. The UNESCO Education for Health and Wellbeing, Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) Programme is to improve Sexual and Reproductive Health, gender and education outcomes for adolescents and young people in the Sub-Saharan Africa region through sustained reductions in new HIV/STI infections, early and unintended pregnancy and gender-based violence. It is focused on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of children, adolescent boys and girls, and young women and men in Sub-Saharan Africa. It works to; create better conditions for adolescents and young people to make informed decisions about their health, sexuality and reproduction, reduce number of new HIV infections and early and unintended pregnancies and improve access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The training of Teachers on Family Life and HIV Education with support of the Kaduna State Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Board is geared towards ensuring that children and young people in-school and out-of-school are provided with scientifically correct information on their reproductive health, communication skills, refusal skill, negotiation skills, assertiveness, self-esteem and lots more. These are skills that will make young people make informed decisions and empower them with knowledge and skills that will make them shun hooliganism, peer pressure and focus more on their education.
Harnessing the support of the traditional and religious leaders in Kaduna State, the facilitator lamented on the increasing cases of rape and early marriage in Nigeria and called on the leaders to step up actions to ensure that communities and schools are safe for children to grow, particularly the girl child. Martin-Mary said 6 out of 10 Girls in Nigeria are sexually abused before the age of 18. He further asked what the individual reactions of the leaders will be if their own daughters were raped. It was unanimously a No Go Area!, as the leaders promised to leave no stone unturned till justice is served and some promised to even leave a mark on the perpetrators before handing over to the security operatives.
The support of UNESCO and the Sweden government was really appreciated at this time. The teachers’ knowledge and skills have been enhanced to improve their classroom delivery of FLHE in their respective schools. Complementing the efforts of government in the state through reawakening of this project in the state will go a long way to make the learning environments free of sexual violence and make all schools implement the Zero Tolerance to Gender Based Violence. The 154 teachers trained cut across the major LGAs with high prevalence of early marriage in Kaduna State.