The Fundawazi Foundation held its fourth annual Project I-CARE Conference on the Intervention, protection, and prevention of child abuse and the role of educators through the provision of a safe environment for children to learn and thrive in spite of the challenges of their environment.

With the theme, “Safe 2 Teach”, the event had teachers and educators from both public and private institutions from across the state gathered at the multipurpose hall of The Fountain of Life Church for training on the need to improve teachers’ capacity to keep the 21st-century child safe. Facilitators at the November 16, 2019 event included Ms Oyinkansola Alabi, Lead Researcher, intellectual property owner and principal of Emotions City; Mr Rotimi Eyitayo, MD/CEO of TeamMasters Limited; Mrs. Bolaji Gbadamosi, Team lead & founder of Child Body Safety & Abuse Prevention Initiative (CBSAPI); Barrister Taiwo Akinlami, Social Development and Public Interest Lawyer; and Mrs. Fayo Williams, Executive Director of Rely Supply Limited.

In her welcome address, the coordinator of the foundation, Mrs. Abisola Soneye appreciated the participants for their eagerness to equip themselves with the right tools to handle their students properly. According to her, teachers play an important role in the detection and reporting of child abuse, hence, the need to improve their capacity so that they are up to the task.

While giving her keynote address, the founder and chairperson of the foundation, Pastor (Mrs) Nomthi Odukoya, who is also an educationist and life coach, said that being a teacher is a calling which is revealed in the way love, care, and positive impartation are passed to the children in their care. She, therefore, encouraged them not to get weary in the noble profession. This, she said, would be achievable when they find time to rest and get reenergized for better output.

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Speaking on the use of emotions to create a healthier, innovative, and compassionate society, Oyinkansola Alabi said that the mental stability of teachers goes a long way to determine the stability of the students; noting that teachers won’t be able to keep their students safe if they are not safe. According to the Emotion Doctor, emotional intelligence and safety are vital and should be introduced in every school’s curriculum. “If you are not emotionally safe, you can’t help your kids,” she stated.

Giving the “Ruler” Model as an example, she urged every school owner to set up therapy hubs for both teachers and students, and inculcate professional trainings in their curriculum. This, she noted, would help the teachers recognise, understand, label, express and regulate their emotions properly so as to be able to raise emotionally stable students. “What is seen in your school is a reflection of what is in you,” she stated.

Mr. Rotimi Eyitayo, while addressing the teachers on how to improve their capacity in order to keep the 21st century students safe, said that teachers have to be consistent and always evolve in their approach to handling their mental and emotional wellness as this would help them to make happen for the students what they have made happen for themselves. He noted that teachers become better and in a good frame of mind to teach when they understand emotional intelligence by discovering and exploring trainings. “Every teacher must be inducted by acquiring information,” he noted.

Addressing the issue of self-care for teachers and the act of planning effectively was Mrs. Bolaji Gbadamosi. According to the Child Behavioural Specialist and Child Sexuality Educator, most students go through so many challenges that only teachers can connect with them and if those teachers don’t take care of themselves by relaxing, and finding time to release their minds and body from stress, they may not be able to handle those students’ challenges appropriately. Self-care, according to her should be a habit every teacher should inculcate because it helps them connect to the students better. “Teachers need to be safe to teach,” she said.

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Adopting a fun and interactive method, Barrister Taiwo Akinlami told the participants that information technology has brought exposure and advancement to the 21st century child, therefore, a teacher who would connect and interact with such a child must also be informed digitally. “An analogue mindset is not enough to teach digitally inclined students,” he stated. Barrister Akinlami concluded his session with a quote by Helena King saying, “since children spend a significant part of their childhood in schools; it is for the reason, if no other, that schools should be warm, caring and nurturing places where children feel supported and protected.”

Participants were also trained on first aid emergency skills and CPR. Mrs. Fayo Williams who led the participants in that session gave practical ways teachers can be of help to their students by providing first aid in the event of any accident.

Representatives of ARM also provided training to the participants on how to save for their future so they won’t end up in financial difficulty and regret which could lead to mental and emotional stress.

The event ended with the award of Certificates of Participation to attendees.

Reported by Becky Olorunpomi