NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION TRAINING

In order to take forward the process of spreading and integrating child wellbeing and protection in the United Evangelical Church (UEC) and its various institutions working with children in Nigeria, ADVANCE provides training for all church workers engaged in Children's Ministry and teaching in schools. To continue strengthening the capacity of the church to respond appropraitely to issues of child abuse, we held the 4th National Child Protection training from August 23rd through 26th 2015 at the ADVANCE Head office in Abuja. The participants were invited from all area conferences of the church across the country.

Participants: Thirty two (32) participants from the Abuja Area Conference of UEC participated in the programme, which was facilitated by the ADVANCE head office team. The participants comprised of coordinators of children’s ministries and field level functionaries involved in variety of programs for children. Their work experience varied from less than a year to 25 years.

Objectives:
1. TO ENHANCE the participants’ understanding about child abuse, child wellbeing and protection and the UEC Child Protection Policy.
2. TO ENHANCE the participant’s awareness and ability to plan and implement advocacy programs on issues concerning child abuse and protection.
3. TO WORK OUT THE PLAN of action for advocacy and follow-up strategy.

Content of the Program: The National Child Protection Training started with a warm welcome by the Program Manager, Mr Billy Abwa, followed by an introductory session eliciting expectations of participants, discussing objectives, formation of reporting committees, and administering the pre-test. The main content included the following topics: Understanding children and childhood; Understanding child abuse; Recognizing and responding to child abuse concerns; and Making the church safe for children. In order to facilitate the participants to gain insight in each other’s work, they were given an opportunity to make a presentation about their children’s ministry objectives, activities, challenges and vulnerable groups served by their areas. Towards the end of the training the participants prepared individual and Area Conference Plan of Action for advocating issues concerning child wellbeing and protection with time targets and expectations from ADVANCE.

Methodology: The entire training was facilitated using participatory methods such as group discussion, role -play, case studies, and ice breakers to make the learning process interesting and stimulating.

Feedback and Evaluation: With a view to understand specific learnings of the participants at the end of the training, a simple post-test was developed based on the content of the training workshop.

Resource Persons: The entire workshop was facilitated by ADVANCE Team made up of the Program Manager (Billy Abwa), the Project Manager (Ujah Friday) and the Child Wellbeing and Protection Coordinator (Mary Ugbenyo).

Concluding Session: The training concluded with a session where the participants shared their learnings, experiences and concerns about child protection with one another and ADVANCE. At the end of the deliberations, the Participants unanimously issued a communiqué to promote the church’s proactive role in investing in children’s well-being, rights, protection, and development. The Project Manager praised the participants for their enthusiasm and ensured ADVANCE’s support to their ministries to strengthen their work with children. The certificates of participation were given to the participants. The participants bade good-bye to each other and to the facilitators by exchanging a hope to meet again.

Way forward: The results of Pre/Post Tests indicate that majority of the participants clearly understood the issues at stake from both biblical and socioeconomic perspectives. However it is a matter of concern that the UEC does not have a national children ministry to help coordinate and streamline the contents and policies and procedures, of the various Area conferences children ministries, and reinforce the concepts and practice of RIGHTS, ADVOCACY, CODE OF CONDUCT and CHILD PARTICIPATION for Child Protection. This implies that deliberate efforts must be taken by the church’s leadership to establish a functional Children’s Ministry Department at the national level to work alongside ADVANCE and to spearhead and harmonize the work of the children ministries within the church to promote child wellbeing and protection. ADVANCE will continue to advocate for these changes with all stakeholders concerned through dialogues, meetings, emails, correspondence, and visits and by organizing awareness and training programs for church leaders and workers.

"Deliberate efforts must be taken by the church’s leadership to establish a functional Children’s Ministry Department at the national level to work alongside ADVANCE and to spearhead and harmonize the work of the children ministries within the church to promote child wellbeing and protection."

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