Shape-A-Child, a social impact organisation dedicated to empowering children and adolescents, recently commemorated World Values Day 2023, an annual campaign held every October 19 to increase the awareness and practice of values around the world. In this interview with Funmi Ogundare, the founder, Izehi Anuge, explained why Nigeria must do a needs assessment and tie values to education to trigger a behavioural response in children that will better equip them to become leaders of tomorrow and thrive anywhere in the world
World Values Day is celebrated yearly on October 19 to increase the awareness and practice of values around the world. The founder, Shape-A-Child, Izehi Anuge, a world school ambassador and her team, in addition to other activities, took it upon themselves to commemorate the day themed ‘Values Bring Us Together’, with a tour to schools within Lagos to educate pupils and students, and and school administrators on the importance of values and its practical applications in their everyday life.
At Ikija Day Nursery and Primary School, Amuwo-Odofin, an awareness walk was held to encourage children to become ambassadors of values and to carry the consciousness from an early age.
At King’s College, Lagos, the students were engaged in activities to show them how to live their values, which will determine the course of their lives and the outcomes.
Anuge said, “You are going to be making choices every day based on your values and everything about your whole existence. If you don’t know what your values are, you may not know where you are going because every choice you make has a consequence. As you get older and move ahead in life, you will be making hard choices; you need to think deeply about it.”
At Obalende Primary School, Ijeh, Lagos, where about 10 schools within the Obalende axis converged, the pupils had a pledge to uphold shared values and work towards rebuilding the nation, collaborating and harnessing their passion for unity and love for the country, among others. It was followed by a reconnect activity, which saw them receive colouring sheets that had 34 ethnic groups in Nigeria represented in colours. The purpose of the activity was to foster patriotism, tolerance, unity and love among them. The schools also participated in a jigsaw puzzle game designed to promote key values and 21st-century skills such as focus, problem-solving, consistency, innovation, resourcefulness and creativity.
The founder told THISDAY that the essence of the colouring activity was to ensure that the children were in tune with the different ethnic tribes in Nigeria and become conscious that our strength lies in our diversity.
“Rather than the children painting any random object, we had them colouring our ethnic costume and talk about it,” she stated, adding that these activities were part of its Recycle, Rebuild and Reconnect programme to mark World Values Day.
In 2022, I and my team came up with several activities that we used to mark World Values Day. We reached 120 schools in Lagos and thousands of pupils. Through the generosity of our partners and donors, we were able to provide the pupils with our resources such as story books and colouring workbooks, which enabled the children engage effectively with the subject matter.
This year, we wanted to do something bigger and identified and brought on board individuals that are already in the education sector. We have activities ongoing in other states across Nigeria, as well as in Ghana. We created a tripartite theme and tagged it ‘Recycle, Rebuild and Reconnect’.”
Anuge explained, “I feel that we have been quite divided lately as a nation and we wanted to run activities that will bring us back together and remind us about what should be important to us. The Recycle element enabled students in secondary schools to come together and take a project around the sustainability of the environment so that they become more environmentally conscious, taking better decisions for the good of society as a whole.”
Anuge added, “They had that project and they could decide to beautify a park, get waste material and reuse them to something that is more valuable.
Asked how stakeholders could help restore our values, considering that it has been eroded, Anuge said, “educating a child does not stop at the primary or secondary school. It is a continuous process that requires parents, school administrators, communities, corporate organisations and the government to also get involved.
“We need to define what we need as a nation. In the next 40 years, where should Nigeria be? On the global stage, we need to start defining what we want for the country by equipping the children with those values. We need to set goals, so it is in defining what we want as a nation for us to be among most globalised nations especially as technology continues to evolve.”
The founder stressed the need for stakeholders to conduct a needs assessment to determine what the education curriculum should hold to equip the children that will lead in the Nigeria of tomorrow.
“We haven’t done a needs assessment on what the country will need in the next 10 years. Have we projected that we are going to need 10 million houses in the next 20 years based on our population? What kind of roads are we going to need to cater for the 200 million population?” the founder said, adding that a behavioural response could be triggered in children to help them understand the importance of values that will put them in scenarios where they are forced to make decisions.
She recalled what motivated her to establish her organisation, saying that when she used to run a restaurant, her staff worked only to earn money without a deep thought as to how they were contributing to the whole business.
She noted this bothered her so much that she decided to research how she could train them effectively, adding that even after training them for two weeks, they returned to their old ways.
“The most transformational course was on values, something that was fit for the Nigerian adult and when I taught them values course, it was like magic, and my profits started to increase,” stated Anuge. “They were at least 45 per cent much better in terms of attitude, their understanding of how they were working changed, and the essence of their whole existence also changed.”
Anuge explained that despite training young professionals, corps members and university students, there was still a problem, realising that she had to go to the foundation in shaping the child’s behaviour that will transform him into a contributory member of society.
“Tying the values to the fact that they are making a choice in their everyday life gives them a sense of accountability for the decisions that they take every day because many people separate their values and choices. In life, you are going to make tough decisions, the values that guide that decision making process enables you to make the right choices not just for yourself, but for the society,” she stated.