Between February and April 2019, Emmanuella Ikomon, SI4DEV partner in Benue state Makurdi location group piloted the Life Skills Peer Group Support Project at the CAC Coeducational School in Makurdi and the UBE Girls Junior Secondary School. Emmanuella provided leadership development training for two enablers and with support from SI4DEV leadership, developed a manual to be used over a period of six weeks.

During the pilot project, 65 in-school teenagers had participated/received leadership development and life skills training, as well as peer group coaching and support. Our hearts were filled with joy as the students demonstrated their learning by facilitating the last two weeks’ sessions themselves. These were girls and boys who, prior to the program, could not stand in front of their own mates and talk. By the end of the program, we could see that they were bursting with self confidence in their expanded knowledge and skills. Thanks to SI4DEV partner Emmanuella Ikomon for piloting this project.

At the end, a total of 56 students (28 each at both participating schools) received certificates of participation and completion. For sustainability, we elected 4 student officials who will continue to run the club in the school starting from next term and the local team will be visiting monthly to check their progress.

There was however, one key need we noticed; most of the children in the poorer school (UBE Girls Junior Secondary) are helps in the homes so this has affected the way they feel about themselves and their level of enthusiasm. We also discovered a need among both boys and girls to educate them on healthy relationships as some already have girl/boyfriends and there were rumors of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

We have found from this pilot project that a school club focused on Life Skills and peer group coaching and support will increase esteem and belonging. With that the children on their own will be motivated to keep the right company always.

Going forward, SI4DEV will promote the Life Skills training and also encourage our group of community builders and leaders to change the mindset of giving handouts, because plain charity has been shown to take away self-esteem and belief in oneself. Therefore, SI4DEV wants to emphasize that focus on teaching life skills and peer group support.

By using these manuals and forming life skills and peer group clubs, participating students/teenagers will imbibe the culture of learning to fish instead of always waiting to be given fish.

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