Newest Four Pillars PLUS project launches in Cross River State, Nigeria
What does it take to raise an educated, healthy and confident generation of adolescent girls and boys who know what they want in life and are well prepared to reach their full potential? It takes a village and more!
— Ahlam Kays, Project Director, Gender Department, FHI 360
Education as a priority was clear from the turnout at the community celebration of the Four Pillars PLUS project launch in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Tribal leaders, village and ministry representatives, school principals and teachers, primary health care staff, parents and students gathered to show their support and learn more about this project that promotes gender equality in education and has already enrolled more than 1,000 adolescent girls and boys in its mentoring program.
Four Pillars PLUS efforts are enhancing the chances that adolescent girls and boys in this Nigerian community will maximize their potential and achieve their goals. Almost 5,000 students in four public secondary schools in Calabar will benefit from teachers with advanced teaching skills, mentoring opportunities that improve girls’ and boys’ self-images and future options, and linkages to primary health centers that increase their knowledge on sexual reproductive health. Through the project, students will gain the skills and information needed to grow up healthy; be resourceful, creative and resilient; negotiate and bargain; and dare to make nontraditional career choices.
Parents, teachers and communities play important roles in the implementation and success of Four Pillars PLUS. The project is improving parents’ capacity to equitably support girls’ and boys’ academic needs, their pursuit of expanded career and life options, and the protection of their sexual reproductive health. At the same time, it is mobilizing stakeholders throughout the community to create an environment in which adolescents can learn to make decisions that will have a positive impact on their lives. Improving the quality of teaching through gender-sensitive pedagogy and creating violence-free schools are essential parts of creating this enabling environment. School-based management committees, parent–teacher associations, primary health care workers, traditional and religious leaders, and women’s and youth groups provide many ways for the Calabar community to become actively involved and show support for their children.
At the spring celebration, His Royal Highness Muri Joseph Bassey Anating Edem V, the Ancestral Clan Head of Efut Ekondo in Calabar South Local Government Area, called upon all present to lend their unconditional support for the project. The Honorable Francis Ettah, Commissioner–CRS Ministry of International Donors Cooperation, gave the welcome address and voiced assurance of state support for the project. “I am very pleased to begin this process of shaping the destiny of our adolescents so as to arrive at their full potentials in life by mentoring them through this period in life,” said Ettah.
Four Pillars PLUS Project Director Josephine Muyiwa-Afolabi underscored the challenges that girls and boys face as they aspire to get a quality education, earn a secondary school certificate and be empowered and equipped with skills that open doors to career opportunities. As one student noted during an informal discussion with other youth, “Mentoring is coming at the right time to the right place, as youth are faced with daily challenges and are often discouraged from daring to aspire to be other than what is traditionally expected and planned for them.”
Photo caption: Participants from the newly launched Four Pillars PLUS project in Cross River State, Nigeria.
Photo credit: Ahlam Kays/FHI 360