I was invited by U-Report Territory Officer for Southeast (U-Report is a social messaging tool and data collection system developed by UNICEF to improve citizen engagement, inform leaders, and foster positive change. The program sends SMS polls and alerts to its participants, collecting real-time responses, and subsequently publishes gathered data. Issues polled include health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, youth unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and disease outbreaks) to educate adolescent school students on Gender Based Violence and Covid-19(I have been part of the WHO/EOC Rapid Response Team).

However during discussions, the guidance and councilor officer of the school had requested that I include topics related to sexual abuse and homosexuality. In view of this, I prepared slides on Covid-19, gender based violence, homosexuality and  sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Apart from educating the students on these topics , the students were also expected to sign up for U-Report at no cost to access lifesaving information on self-service bot on #COVID19 by UNICEF Nigeria and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. As well as serve as U-Report reporters.

I had prepared generic slides (targeting girls more because most times they appear to be victims), on getting to the school I discovered it wasn’t a missed school but just boys. Wow, I haven’t had any session in my whole career with only boys. But all the same am here. Am expected to speak to get their attention understanding that these boys could be partners.

We went from Covid-19 to gender based violence, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, then ended with homosexuality. Come and see questions, the boys are very smart.

As expected, there were times in the session when I get deep in driving a point, the student boost into laughter and even clap their hands. Yes, topics related to sexuality are always expected to be like that. But sure, I did justice to the topic in the space of three hours. It wasn’t easy dealing with them but I managed anyways.

Will I want to have such sessions again? My answer will be yes. Facilitating sessions bring out my real personality.

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U-Report is a messaging platform for community participation, designed to address any issue that affects children and young people by either collecting information directly from them or their parents to improve policy and programmes or by directly providing life-saving information to the most vulnerable in a timely way.

UNICEF is developing a new Strategic Plan for the next four years to drive positive change for children and young people in over 190 countries & territories.

They want your input.

Do not forget to participate when you receive the poll, if you are yet to receive the poll, please text the word PLAN to 24453 or to @Ureportnigeria via Facebook messenger. If you are yet to be part of  U-Report, text JOIN to 24453.