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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Oxford University collaborates with Nigerian agencies and other stakeholders to discuss parenting difficulties in Nigeria

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In collaboration with the Gender Adolescent School Health and Elderly Care (GASHE) division of the Family Health Department of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Parenting for Lifelong Health and the Global Parenting Initiative at the University of Oxford on Tuesday in Abuja convened a workshop aimed at enhancing parenting support interventions in Nigeria.

The workshop was part of a project funded by the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (GPEVAC) through the Government of Japan. It is aimed at helping five pathfinding countries including Nigeria to enhance their national infrastructure to provide and scale evidence-based parenting programmes towards preventing violence against children.

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The workshop brought together an array of stakeholders to address critical issues surrounding parenting in the country.

NOA DG’s remarks

The Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lanre Issa-Onilu, who was the guest speaker at the event, underscored the vital role of responsible parenting in shaping the future of Nigerian children.

Among other issues, he addressed the challenges of absentee parenting and the influence of foreign media on children’s development, outlining plans for collaborative efforts between NOA and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate television content and promote locally produced cartoons.

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”Some of the steps we are currently taking at NOA with regards to en-placing responsible parenting includes our current engagements with cartoon creators aimed at ensuring that the cartoons that our children watch going forward are reflective of our heroes, our culture, our folklore, our diversity, our challenges, and our victories,” he said.

”We are taking these engagements with cartoon creators with the highest degree of seriousness and commitment because, even though many of you may not have noticed, we are currently raising foreigners in our various homes across Nigeria. The cartoon contents that our children spend hours watching and which are shaping their character and worldview do not project the nuances of our culture and values.”

Mr Onilu also revealed that the agency would be establishing initiatives such as Citizens Brigades in primary and secondary schools to instill ”positive values” in Nigerian children.

”In addition, NOA is in the process of establishing Citizens Brigades in Secondary and Primary schools. The plan in the short term, is to establish 1,000 per state in the 36 states and the FCT, making 37,000 citizen brigades promoting the contents of the National Values Charter in the first instance,” he said, adding that: ”The core purpose of this is to familiarise our children from their formative stage with the promises that Nigeria is making to them and the commitments that they in turn owe to the country and their fellow citizens. In this way, we intend to develop children who are values-conscious. Our advocacy on the National Values Charter emphasises the centrality of responsible parenting.”

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Workshop

Meanwhile, the workshop tagged: ”Scaling Positive Parenting to Reduce Violence against Children in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Context of the Triple Threat of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Crisis,” attracted participants from various ministries, UN agencies, and non-governmental agencies.

Isang Awah, representing Parenting for Lifelong Health and the Global Parenting Initiative at the University of Oxford, led the project team in delivering an intense presentation on the urgent need for responsive parenting interventions in Nigeria.

She said the major objectives of the event was to bring together stakeholders to deliberate on the state of parenting support interventions in Nigeria.

The expert added that the effort was also to provide a broad overview of the parenting support landscape. “We did a situational analysis and we are going to share the findings to show you what we have in terms of parenting support in Nigeria.”

She said the workshop also sought to capture the details of the various parenting support interventions that are currently being implemented ”and we will do that by having some presentations from a few of the implementers…We only selected three, and they will share some of the challenges and gaps and ways that we can support to strengthen the programmes and their scale-up.”

She gave snippets of the findings which formed the nucleus of the workshop.

”I am here to advocate for support for all parents and caregivers. That is our mission at Parenting for Lifelong Health and the Global Parenting Initiative which is at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford,” she said.

”We want all parents and caregivers to get the support they need to raise their children. The workshop is to share findings from the situational analysis of parenting programmes in Nigeria. We found out that there are different implementers working on different parenting programmes in Nigeria and they all have different challenges one of which is funding. Another is the lack of a policy on parenting which we need in the country. They also need support to strenthen capacity.”

Recommendations

On recommendations, the expert said: ”I think it is very important to strengthen first of all the programmes because the implementers are doing a fantastic job but need to be supported. We need to strengthen their capacities, support them where they need funding… even in carrying out evaluation…and even in developing a curriculum and content of the different programmes they are implementing.”

”And in terms of policies, it would be helpful if we could have a policy on parenting. It would also be very great to see how we can include parenting support and intervention in some of the services we already have in some of the federal ministries.”

Also, in her presentations, Mrs Awah highlighted the impact of economic decline, conflict, and natural disasters on families, leading to negative coping mechanisms such as child labour, reduced nutrition, and child marriage.

The presentation emphasized the critical role of parenting in child development and advocated support for families affected by humanitarian crises. The presentation also shared the state of parenting programmes in Nigeria and revealed that there was no policy on parenting in the country.

Deliberations

A robust discussion facilitated by John Ovuoraye, Director of GASHE Division at the Federal Ministry of Health, ensued, with participants including key policymakers from relevant ministries, NOA, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), UNICEF, WHO, UNODC, FHI360, Society for Family Health, Jhpiego, and members of the press.

The discussion centered on the necessity of a national parenting policy and the imperative to support parents with effective interventions.

The workshop concluded with a consensus on concrete steps to facilitate the development of a comprehensive parenting policy in Nigeria, signaling a significant milestone in advancing support for families across the nation.

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