Youth from across Africa came together at a youth forum which was a pre-conference activity that took place at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Plot 903.Tafawa Balewa Way, Area 11, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria on 13th January 2019. The forum was set to kick-start activities for the First Regional Conference of African Traditional and Religious Leaders on Keeping Girls in School in Africa. One of the key objectives of the pre-conference was to stimulate discussions among youth that were participating at the main conference and get their unique perspective as well as the role they can play in Keeping girls in school. It was aimed at ensuring the voices of youth will be properly represented in decisions that will be taken at the end of the conference. The goal was for the youth to set an agenda on how to interact with the Traditional and Religious leaders and explore innovative ways for collaboration and partnership within the region. It was also aimed at promoting dialogue between young people, Traditional and Religious leaders and giving them an opportunity to come up with recommendation on the most effective strategies for keeping girls in school (K G S). There were 3 sessions At the Youth Forum; 1- An interactive session where participants were divided into 4 groups to articulate their questions and method of engagement with Traditional and Religious leaders. Each group was expected to come up with key messages, tailored at at streamlining the discussion to be focused towards KGS. 2-Two panel discussions to provoke discussions among the youth. The first panel which was headed by the Emir of Argungu HRH Alhaji Samaila Mera had panelists of Youth-led groups from Botswana Gogontlejang Phaladi, Nina Mbah from Nigeria, Joannes Yimbeselu from Cameroon, Joecelia Monica Quewon from Liberia. Their discussions centered around programs within their communities that were led by youth. These included; Setting up youth-led commitment in mentorship programs for young people and creating vibrant youth networking and partnership with Traditional and Religious Leadership to advance Keeping Girls In School ( KGS). The second panel was made up of youth working in different education focussed organizations, where they shared the work they do, their experiences and best practices as explored other strategic ways to ensure all girls access education and remain in school. From the interactive session, some key issues were highlighted viz-a-viz;
- The need to create awareness, sensitize communities on the importance of keeping girls in school (KGS).
- Identified challenges of inadequate youth friendly centers and poverty as one of the key issues affecting girls education , there is need to come up with ways to address this and also identify the roleTraditional leaders can play in sustaining the process.
- Identifying issues that keep girls away from school.
- Changing the narrative on girls Education.
- Need to drive accountability by not only keeping girls in school but ensuring they complete
- The unique role Traditional and Religious leaders can play especially in taking the lead to advocate for Keeping girls in school (KGS).
- Exploring innovative and workable interventions that will keep girls in school