GNRC–Comoros member, Mr. Akim Said M’changama, hosted the “Tell a Friend Campaign”, to raise awareness about the upcoming GNRC 5th Forum on May 2017. Ten religious leaders from the region gathered during this meeting.
During the discussion, members were taken through the theme of the forum and its expected objectives. The theme for the Fifth Forum is Ending Violence Against Children: Faith Communities in Action. Members related very well with the Fifth Forum giving examples such as: the caning of students in schools, child sexual abuse reported both in schools and homes and domestic violence at homes among others.
The Fifth Forum discussion came at a time when Comoros is about to adopt a new bill set to regulate religious schools and institutions. The bill once implemented, will help tackle rampant cases of radicalization, violent extremism and exploitation in institutions. The bill will also help the government to monitor the curriculum taught in schools.
Participants also attempted to link the new bill to the sub-themes of the Fifth Forum as highlighted below:
Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime. Members saw this as a good avenue to explore solutions towards preventing children from exploitation through gang violence or violent extremism. They also emphasized community vigilance to identify new faces in the society who may radicalize the children and youth. They gave examples of the number of children in Africa who have fallen victim of recruitment into al Shabab or ISIS due to emergence of ‘visitors’ in the community.
Members during the meeting
Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing. For the second sub-theme, members stressed that the key to peace is to include faith-based practices in development. They pointed out that investors willing to open schools should have disciplined staff and well elaborated regulations that are in line with the accords of the government and religious practices in the region. Participants added that religious leaders should be involved in the making of curricula to boost spirituality among children and youth. Selection of teachers with good spiritual background as a way of good child upbringing was also mentioned.
Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children. Participants noted the importance of regular inspections and surveys to determine the quality of education and treatment of students in schools. One of the participants called for action against early pregnancies among schoolgirls.
In an effort to fight violence against children, participants advocated for the post-forum recommendations to be implemented at grass-roots level.