By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
The Institute of Child Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan has designed a community engagement programme targeted at community members and stakeholders so as to promote Senior Secondary School enrollment and retention in Oyo State.
The Institute organised a Stakeholders Dialogue – Gown and Town Project: Synergy for Enhanced Societal Impact, tagged: Education as a Vaccine, held at the Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
The Principal Invesigator of the Institute, Dr Adesola Olumide explained that the project was named, Gown and Town is a research work where universities and their host communities work together to achieve a common goal and enhance societal impact.
The Universities are seen as the gown while their host communities are the town.
It is widely believed that education is a key component that contributes to the development of any country, and schools provide students with the opportunity to develop healthy behaviours which promote their health and well-being, in addition to formal education.
According to research, UNESCO data for the school year ending in 2018 shows that about 258 million children and youth are out of school. The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of junior secondary school age and 138 million of senior secondary school age.
“What we did was to work with in and out-of-school adolescents to try and come up with a list of the things that promote and hinder retention in secondary schools. This is a forum for them to present their findings to other stakeholders from the Ministry of Education, schools, teachers, parents and also to give we, the researchers, their own perspectives of what can be done to enable adolescents to remain in school,”she said.
Dr Olumide said adolescents were targeted in the research because they were becoming increasingly independent of their parents and could decide to listen to friends who would introduce them to negative habits instead of their parents.
She stated: “When they engage in these particular negative habits, it affects their health primarily, it is also going to go on to affect their health when they become adults and beyond that, it will affect the health of the children that they have. So they are very important.“
The Commissioner for Education, Barrister Olasunkanmi Olaleye, represented by Assistant Director at the Ministry, Mr Bolaji Obatowon said the Gown and Town project was like a limelight that is opening the eyes of everyone to the right path on the issue of education, adding that the Oyo State Government has partnered with the Institute on the project.
Obatowon revealed, “That is why approval has been given to stage this type of programme and we are all here because we know that joining hands on this issue is the most important thing to achieve the goal. So the Government is ready anytime.”
Four of the adolescents, both in-school and out-of-school, who partook in
the research work for the project, presented their findings during the event, as they showcased some of the pictures taken by them to tell the story of some of the causes, how to enhance school retainment and solutions to the menace of out-of-school adolescents.
In attendance at the event were stakeholders, such as, in-school and out-of-school adolescents; parents; teachers; school owners; government and private schools proprietors; researchers; innovators, educators from the University of Ibadan and community members, among others.