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How ‘Powerforward’ reduced vices in Abuja schools – Education Board

L-R: Co-Curricular division Secondary Education Board (SEB) Mrs. Mary Ajibola, HOD Co-Curricular SEB Mrs. Victoria George and Acting Country Director Africare Dr. Patrick Adah and Principal Model Secondary School Maitama Abuja Mrs. Patricia Oti. During the Powerforward Africare Stakeholders meeting.

Secondary schools in Abuja are now recording fewer vices among its students, following a school intervention programme, Powerforward, a project funded by Exxonmobil and executed by Africare.

At a stakeholders meeting on activities for the project for 2018 in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, a Deputy Director and Head of Department, Co-Curricula of the FCT Secondary Education Board, Mrs Victoria George, said the programme had positively changed the mindsets and performances of students in the schools, especially students who had lost interest in education before the programme was introduced five years ago.

Africare, a health non-governmental organization, partners National Basketball Association and Exxonmobil to use basketball and other learning skills to train students not only in basketball, but on leadership skills, hygiene, and various strategies to defeat diseases, especially malaria.

Mrs George said at the meeting on Wednesday: “I will tell you that as a board that is in charge of senior secondary schools in the FCT, we are very elated. Like I said in my opening speech, government can never do it all. And, when we juxtapose the private and public schools, the whole population of the private schools against the public schools is like 2/10. We have more students there for various reasons. And, our schools are doing very well.

“The government does not have all the wherewithal to make sure that this schools do their best. When we have development partners like the Powerforward, Africare, all them put together, coming to us to say ‘we want to assist in this area,’ without bating any eyelid, we must cooperate with them so that our students can benefit from them.

“Some of us, looking back, these are the kind of the experiences we didn’t have. Today, if there are such opportunities, and we know that our students can be part of global citizens and do what is happening in the world and excel, which of course they are already gaining the talents, we give them our utmost cooperation.”

She said 40 percent of the FCT schools would participate in the programme this year. according to her, out of the 30 participating schools, 10 are private.

She said on decline in vices in the schools: “I will say some of our schools used to be red-zone schools where we had a lot of vices. Every time, the principals, the teachers were calling police. We had to be employing so many law enforcement agencies to come and help us quell situations in the schools. The students were involved in so many vices. But, with the Powerforward activities, I will tell you that it has gone done by above 50 percent.

“When you look at them, these are students that didn’t find school interesting because academically, they were not doing very well. But, now, they have found something that they are putting their energies into, playing basketball, learning what causes diseases and engaging in good hygiene habits.

“They now understand that their situation is better than some others, and they can go into communities to carry out community services. It has really refocused their attention. Basically, even in their academic, they are doing better. We find a lot of them now occupying leadership position in the schools.”

Speaking on the programme, Acting Country Director and Director of Programmes, Africare, Dr Patrick Adah, said: “We are here to have what we call the stakeholders meeting. It is a meeting that we have on annual basis where we bring the stakeholders together to review the activities of the previous year and plan the activities for the current year. Here, we have come together, the partners of the Powerforward project, and the major stakeholders, comprising the principals of the schools, the Secondary Education Board together with the game masters and the coaches. We are happy to ensure that the project is implemented in the schools.

“This year, we are looking at expanding the reach, because we are going to be looking at 10 more schools.”

He said the Secondary Education Board was calling for including of more schools in the FCT in the project. He noted that consideration of more schools depends on available funds from the donor, the Exxon Mobil.

“Last year, we worked with 20 schools. This year, we are going to add additional 10 schools to make 30 schools. We are looking at reaching out to 20,000 beneficiaries this year. The programme is very robust. It has many components including leadership skills,” he stated.

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