By Fru Rita Ngum
Stakeholders in the Ngoketunjia Division in the NW Region have developed guidelines for the protection of children in the Division. The move was taken at the end of a 2 day workshop organized by the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) programme with the objective of building the capacity of stakeholders to develop guidelines for the protection of children and how to manage abuse cases done on children and especially children with disabilities. The workshop took place at the Council Hall in Ndop on June 27 and 28, 2017.
Speaking at the start of the workshop, the Senor Divisional Officer (SDO) for Ngoketunjia, Mr. kuwlar Nobel Valeri appreciated the CBC Health Services for its efforts in protecting children which is in line with government actions. He noted that the prevalence of child abuse in the Division is on an increase, reason why he pledged government continues support to fight against child abuse. The SDO urged the participants to acquire knowledge which will help them put in place measures to reduce abuse cases in their different sectors.
In her presentation on Child Protection and Safeguarding, the SEEPD Programme Child Protection Officer, Nsono Josephine noted that Ngoketunjia was privileged to be chosen as the Division to pioneer such a workshop. She regretted that the absence of guidelines for the protection of children has been one of the reasons for increase in child abuse, reason why the SEEPD programme in its mandate to ensure that environment are safe for children, decided to take lead in bringing stakeholders together to develop the guidelines. She noted that once the guideline is developed, it will be shared with other stakeholders who will use it for the protection of children and also it can be replicated in other Divisions of the NWR and beyond.
Nsono Josephine highlighted that abuse cases have often not been handled properly at different levels. On that score, she pointed out that each participant of the workshop has a specific role to play in the case of protecting children or handling abuses.
Given that bullying is one of the ways in abusing children, participants were treated to a presentation on anti-bullying techniques especially in schools. In different group work, participants identified some of the techniques such as sensitizing children on the effects of bullying their friends and teachers giving the children discipline that will not harm them physically and emotionally.
Expatiating on the rights of children, the District Medical Officer (DMO) for Ndop District hospital pointed out that children have the fundamental right to health. He said some parents do not take their children for vaccination, which is punishable by law because when children are not vaccinated they are vulnerable to illnesses. Participations were also drilled on the role of child protection in development.
The workshop brought together Delegates of Basic Education, Youth Affairs, Social Affairs, Sport and Physical Education in Ngoketunjia Division, Teachers of Government Practicing School Group 2, and the DMO Ndop who attested that the workshop was timely and educative. These stakeholders promised to implement the guideline that captures their different roles when appropriate.
The strategy used by the SEEPD programme is in line with the objective of the third phase of the programme which is to put in place measures for sustainability. Given that the guidelines have been developed by government stakeholders, it is expected that the implementation process will be faster at every level so that environments are safe for children.