By Yankuba Manneh
Running its first ever established Islamic School in the Gambia called Daru Thaqwa for the community of New Yundum, Orphan Care Foundation (OCF), a UK based charitable organization has on Wednesday 7th April, 2021 virtually trained members of the school Executive Body on safeguarding.
The training attended by both Daru Thaqwa Executive members and a participant from Department of Social Welfare was meant to create awareness on the need to protect and promote child welfare and end perpetuation of abuse of all forms in institutions of learning.
Remotely presenting on safeguarding from the UK, Tafazal Mohammed, Director of Orphan Care Foundation said the course was based on a globally recognized accredited Programme that embodies the fundamentals of ensuring there are sound and practical safeguarding policies and practices that are fit for purpose.
“Safeguarding training is something that we always wanted to deliver. I know the importance of fulling our duty of care towards the most vulnerable in society – children. I believe our institutions need to create a culture of awareness and vigilance so that safeguarding is not a by-product, but part of the agenda,” the OCF boss explained explicitly in an email interview.
When contacted about existing legal framework that protects children and their rights and freedoms, Jankoba Jabbi, Director Department of Social Welfare referenced the 2005 Children’s Act, saying it has been developed to protect the rights of children and shield them against all sorts of abuse including child marriage, unwanted pregnancy, abandonment and sexual harassment.
Admitting that not much public awareness campaigns have been rolled out, Jabbi unveiled a wide range of sensitization initiatives in the offing, such as radio talk shows, school engagements and seminars with a view to bring a radical shift in perspective regarding the full-scale protection of children and their fundamental rights.
“There is a law that protects children under 18. They need to be protected as well as their rights. Perpetrators of child rights and other abuses will face full wrath of the law,” Jabbi cautioned while enjoined anyone who wants to establish such schools to visit his Department so that they could closely monitor and supervise child welfare issues.
Buba Ceesay, a training participant and Secretary of Daru Thaqwa Executive Body thanked Orphan Care Foundation for promoting religious education in New Yundum and its surrounding communities. He said this loft support is indicative of the UK based Foundation’s resolve to the promotion and propagation of Islam.
Secretary Ceesay added: “the establishment of the Madarasa is timely and it provides an opportunity for the underprivileged (orphan children) to acquire Islamic education free of charge. Since its inception couple of years ago, the school has been steadily growing both in population and infrastructure,” Buba passionately explained with enthusiasm.
Asked about the relevance of the training on safeguarding, Buba Ceesay said it has risen his awareness on the protection of child rights and other abuses. He however called on caregivers to show love, care and compassion to children while making sure their safety from harm, well-being and protection are jealously safeguarded. “A step-down training will be conducted for the instructors for improved child welfare and rights protection,” Buba assured.
In a nutshell, Daru Thaqwa is funded by Orphan Care Foundation and its revenue base is limited to students’ registration and tuition fees. Therefore, the school management and the Executive Body enjoined parents within New Yundum and its precincts to send in their children for acquisition of quality Islamic education and for growth and sustainability purpose.