Idowu Sowunmi highlights the efforts of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other relevant stakeholders to take the campaign against human trafficking to schools in the country
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) under the leadership of its Director-General, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, has stepped up efforts in the fight against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) by partnering critical stakeholders to adopt a fresh approach.
NAPTIP, with the support of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), within the framework of the Demand Driven Facility (DDF) of the EU-ECOWAS funded project, Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM), commenced a process of infusing TIP issues into the curricular of basic and senior secondary schools in Nigeria, including the development of Teachers’ Guides on the carrier subjects.
To actually walk the talk, critical stakeholders, in collaboration with the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), with education experts, as well as TIP experts from NAPTIP, embarked on a practical academic exercise of mainstreaming TIP issues into the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) minimum standards.
The process of infusing TIP issues into the minimum standards of colleges of education in Nigeria during the three-year mandatory training period for teachers became imperative in order to expose the teachers to TIP issues and best teaching methods for the various TIP topics.
To achieve this, training of trainers with the aim of training about 100 select master trainers each from across the six geo-political zones from various colleges of education in Nigeria was organised recently.
The training held in six locations across the geo-political zones: North-central (Lafia) from November 5 to 10; South-west (Abeokuta), November 25 to 30; South-east/South-south (Enugu), November 25 to 30; North-west (Kano), December 9 to 14; and North-east (Yola), December 9 to 14.
The five-day trainings adopted a two-pronged approach, training on TIP themes and topics by NAPTIP officers and training on the pedagogy for delivering the curricula to pre-service teachers in the colleges of education.
The training was designed to sensitise teachers on the menace of TIP in Nigeria, and their role in combating the scourge in the Nigerian school system; it was part of the series of trainings targeting over 500 teacher-trainers from all the colleges of education in Nigeria, including private colleges. Training workshops will be organised across the six geopolitical zones, bringing together education experts from NCCE as well as TIP experts from NAPTIP.
Speaking on infusing TIP issues into the school curricula, the ICMPD Coordinator, Mrs. Mojisola Sodeinde, revealed the new trends among school-aged children which is giving rise to trafficking.
“Confirmed cases have revealed that school-aged children are being trafficked; that trafficking activities occur on school premises, and that trafficking occurs during school-sponsored events. Traffickers often use students as recruiters. These recruiters form relationships with their fellow students in order to bring more youths into the criminal enterprise. Students may meet traffickers while commuting to or from school.
Trafficked students may continue to attend school, or at least sporadically, while involved in labour or sexual exploitation. Every trafficking situation differs according to the trends in the local community. Therefore, prevention and response training for the entire school community is necessary to effectively address the issues affecting students in Nigerian schools.
“It is very simple. Socialisation is the most influential learning process one can experience, it is the method through which cultural and social identities achieve continuity. Schools are known to be among the most active and direct agents of political socialisation, others include family, peer group, mass media and religion.
“Schools conduct teaching and guide learning; they constitute a major part of the socialisation process that drives the socialisation of young people into norms, habits, values, traditions and roles in the society, including their socio-political aspects.
“The socialisation through school, more than any other agent, will better prepare the youths to acquire the norms and values which now and in the future, will enable them to have a more effective attitude change, which is required in order to appreciate the evil of human trafficking.
“NAPTIP is to be commended for this innovative idea to take the fight against human trafficking to school communities. Whether we like it or not, and let us face it, teachers, school staff and students are likely to encounter victims of human trafficking on school compounds, placing them in a prime position to aid in the prevention and detection efforts.
“Awareness and prevention education on the issue of human trafficking will enable students to recognise the warning signs and report possible victimisation. At-risk youths will learn how to better protect themselves, and student victims will more likely know how to get help. Educated students are empowered to advocate for those who experience modern-day human rights violations.”
Also speaking, a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, lauded the present administration’s change agenda, initiated through education strategic intervention plan with a roadmap for educational development based on 10 pillars.
“The mandate of the 10 pillars of the education roadmap included revamping the basic education sector, education data and curriculum planning, as well as improving the quality of teacher education.
“Improvement in the quality of teacher education requires professionally competent teachers that are able to handle emerging issues in our society, as well as our educational institutions. This means recognising and educating the child to competently face tomorrow’s environment with appreciable success as they contribute their quota in reshaping it.
“There is no doubt that living in the world today requires intelligent information about trafficking in persons. I am happy to note that experts in TIP took advantage of the NCCE curriculum development model that utilises the outcome of collaborative efforts of the National Commission for Colleges of Education and critical stakeholders to take the quality of our NCE curriculum to the next level. The new edition of the NCE Minimum Standards includes TIP issues.
“Teacher education curriculum is a veritable tool for social reform therefore, it needs to strike a balance between standardisation and allowing for flexibility and creativity so that teacher education does not stifle the creativity and holistic development of teachers and their students. It is, therefore necessary to ensure that the training of teachers to implement the mainstreamed issues in TIP is conducted in line with our national needs and aspirations.
“As you may be aware, TIP issues are becoming one of the most lucrative and dangerous crimes globally. Traffickers are evolving more attractive strategies in capturing their victims. It is for this reason that the ICMPD took giant steps in alerting us in the inherent dangers associated with developing content and supporting the mainstreaming of TIP issues into the NCE Minimum Standards. They are facilitating the training of trainees across the six geo-political zones. So far, 400 master trainers would have been trained/sensitised of TIP issues and the curricula. These will subsequently train other teacher-educators in all our colleges of education.
“I believe that teaching mainstreamed TIP in NCE Minimum Standards, if done in tandem with the next level agenda, can be a veritable vehicle for achieving the laudable objectives of the education roadmap. These standards are the guiding document for pre-service teacher education for basic education in Nigeria. It has specified the human and material requirements as well as the educational infrastructure required in the preparation of NCE graduates from all NCE awarding institutions in the country. The focus in this workshop is the production of quality teachers that would produce citizens who can ensure the continuing development of the country and global competitiveness of its citizens.
Obaji added: “My expectations are that as we teach TIP benchmarks for NCE, we must be guided by the National Education Strategic Plan, which is oriented towards the urgent needs of Nigeria for quality and functional education. We should ensure that we produce qualitative basic education teachers who will meet the needs of the Nigerian child today and tomorrow especially in supporting Nigeria in preventing TIP issues among the youth and venerable persons.”
With this all-encompassing approach, students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels would be provided with the necessary information on TIP as a safeguard from being victims of the heinous crime of TIP.
To a lecturer, Mr. Babasola Osipeju of Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Noforija-Epe, Lagos, “what the organisers put into the programme was a worthwhile experience. First, as a teacher trainer, the method introduced was active learning, which makes learning real, involving the learner in all aspects of teaching. The organisers did not just teach this method; they made us put it into practice both individually and through the various groups we belong.
“On the aspect of TIP mainstreamed into the NCCE curriculum, I realised that both the Ministry of Education, NAPTIP, ICMPD, as well as their partners meant business. I said this because the quality of the resource persons invited walked the talks. Involving teacher trainers, who will go back to teach teachers in training, and they in turn will teach pupils in primary and junior secondary schools also gives credence to the catch them young policy of eradicating trafficking in persons.
“Honestly, with the exposure to the danger of TIP and the kind of revelations made at the workshop, one cannot but be moved to be involved. The rate at which lives of future generation of our nation perish in the Mediterranean Sea and the slavery those who finally get to Europe are subjected to via sex and forced labour, one will be disturbed. I therefore commend the organisers and the personnel for a job well done. I also appeal to my colleagues to be passionate about this course and give it the desired attention for the good of our nation and the upcoming generation.”
Also speaking with THISDAY, the Chairman, Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, Mr. Bidemi Adeboye, described the training as all-engaging.
“The training was all-engaging. It was an eye-opener and a wake-up call in the fight against the menace of trafficking in persons. The inclusion of TIP in the curriculum of the Universal Basic Education (primary one to JS3) has extended the advocacy beyond its traditional boundaries. Teachers, pupils, parents and homes are also considered active stakeholders in the combat against TIP through the four walls of the classroom.
“I considered my nomination a great privilege. With the quality of training the participants were exposed to and the connections established among the participants, we are not only well equipped to guide our students against falling victims of TIP, our students and our fellow staff will also be mentored to become ambassadors in the fight against TIP,” he said.
Dr. Oparinde Folasade Odunola, from the Department of Social Studies, Osun State College of Education, also commended the organisers.
According to her, “this workshop on the ‘Train the Trainers on Trafficking in Persons’ organised by NCCE in collaboration with ICMPD is a very good development and a very interesting programme. Issue of human trafficking is a serious problem in our society as it continues to thrive in spite of government’s campaign against the menace.
“The participants in the recently concluded workshop are to serve as ambassadors with a view to campaigning against trafficking in persons in Nigeria by educating teachers, students, traditional rulers, religious leaders, market men and women, and all members of the community about the consequences of human trafficking.
“The workshop exposed us to active learning experiences capable of improving teaching-learning process by involving the students actively in teaching and learning. I hope the outcome of this workshop will bring tremendous improvement in all ramifications to our educational system which will in turn help in reducing the menace of human trafficking in Nigeria in due course.”