Underprivileged Professional Education and Training Challenge Program
The Underprivileged Professional Education and Training Challenge Program (UPETCP) is a project designed to empower poor and vulnerable children who grow with very little or no access to education and training. Initiated by Tobby Bond NJAMNGANG in June and launched in September 2014 the project provided school needs such as fees, uniforms, didactics, tools etc. to poor and vulnerable children - giving them opportunities to obtain both formal and informal education (vocational). This was after he had identified 1300 children and young people who suffer Violence against Children (VaC). 50% of these victims are complete orphans while 30% are single parent underprivileged children and 20% are teenage mothers. Some 260 children out of the 1300 already identified from the four villages/communities that make up the Tubah Sub Division in the North West Region of Cameroon are so far benefiting from this project.
The project objectives are to educate and train children from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds by using early-intervention initiatives to ensure a fairer chance to develop their social, employment and life skills. This gives them the opportunity to adopt positive attitudes to their lives, raise their aspirations and realize their full potential. The project also seeks to alleviate some, if not all, of the causes of violence and abuse of children.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
These objectives were achieved through capacity building (sensitization, education and training) of the various collaborators and the society at large. Training workshops and seminars were organized at various levels. The media, including newspapers, television and especially radio (the very potent medium of communication in Cameroon), public meetings and rallies were used to accomplish the project aims.
This project is encouraging and promoting anti-militarism and VaC through advocacy and communications related issues. The project is also ensuring child development thereby eradicating VaC and trafficking.
The first evaluation is that all the 1300 victims so far identified and even more are protected against violence. Majority of the Tubah Rural Area (the theater of operation) with a population of close to three hundred and eighty thousand inhabitants is aware of, and against violence against children. 260 children from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds benefiting from early-intervention initiatives to ensure a fairer chance to develop their social, employment and life skills. Also, disadvantaged children and young people adopting positive attitude to their lives, raise their aspirations and realize their full potential.
The biggest challenges faced were that all the children identified could not be helped for the absence of the wherewithal and their state of homelessness. Tubah which is the project pilot center consist of four different villages or communities with three different native languages. English is the lone common language and only the few educated or literates could understand. This posed a huge challenge as far as information/communication is concern. Another big challenge was converting the minds of the vulnerable population as their girls were being forced into marriages at the tender ages of 9 - 15 years to men old enough to be their fathers. These girls out of poverty and the absence of education live in dire hardship and suffer militarism and violence from these men. They are often just used and dumped in pregnancies. The parents of these girls harass them such that nowadays they do hide their pregnancies and often throw their babies away immediately after delivery.
The vulnerable population saw the importance of educating and training their children instead of harassing and even abandoning them. They equally learned that children born to neglect or total abandonment result in untold hardship, societal rejection and often end up in the streets where unscrupulous individuals in the society go about exploiting these situations to achieve their selfish aims. For instance Boko Haram in Nigeria and northern Cameroon is using these girls detonate bombs and/or other devices to kill themselves, kill innocent citizens. By using these early-intervention initiatives to educate and train children from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure a fairer chance of developing their social, employment/economic and life skills they adopt positive attitude to their lives, raise their aspirations and realize their full potential. This go a long way to promote sustainable and equitable development thereby making the world a better place for all.