On Wednesday 18th of July 2014, the Humanists Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) in her effort to advocate for a witchcraft and superstitious belief free Akwa-Ibom state took humanist science education to schools in Ibono and Eket Local government area of Akwa-Ibom state Nigeria, under the auspices of Humanist and Science Education Programme (HASTEP).
The schools visited for the eventful training were Secondary Grammar School Ibeno and Apostolic Church School Esit Urua Eket where a hundred and seventy five (175) and fifty-five students (55) were trained in the respective schools. The training which was targeted only at the school prefects and the generality of senior school students bearing in mind that they are part of the school leadership has its main theme: Science Education as a Veritable Tool for Eradicating the Irrational Belief in Witchcraft. It is a renewed effort to inculcate in the young ones the virtues of science oriented mindset and its consequent usefulness for a peaceful and tolerant school environment and society at large.
In his opening remark, Ayobami Ojedokun said that the training is to enable the trainees to know, imbibe and put to use the scientific world as a guide to life as this is the prerequisite for a superstition free, witchbased violence free and human rights conscious society. He then took the students through the definitional and conceptual analysis of superstition and science; the qualitiess of putting scientific worldview to use and the virtues of putting the lessons learnt to use in their day to day activities both in the school environment and the society at large.
On the other hand, Ekaette Ante gave his account on the danger of superstition in the face of modernization and human rights conscious state like Akwa-Ibom state, Nigeria. By means of expatiation, she highlighted the reasons we should inculcate the scientific orientaion to life. Opeyemi Adeyinka corroborated this by highlighting the problems of superstitious beliefs, saying that it is unscientific and demeaning to the fundamental human rights.
Towards the tail end of the training, crested T-shirts were distributed to the participants to include the teachers that joined in the workshop. On the T-shirt is written the HAPSTA 2014 dictum that reads thus: DON’T DISCRIMINATE: All Different, All Equal in front, and at the back is written My Rights (is) My Life, Protect my Rights, and Ask Questions, Be Critical. This is to make the impression long lasting on the minds of the participants.
Also, photographs were taken so as to make the occasion a memorable one. HASTEP Team met with the school authorities/students, took pictures with them and pledged to continue to partner with the schools in ensuring that superstition and particularly the irrational belief in witchcraft in the witchcraft belief endemic Akwa-Ibom state Nigeria. In rounding up the talk, the team leaders Ayobami Ojedokun and Emmanuel Okon held that the students are the hope of the country and hope that they would help in the advocacy against witchcraft, witch-based violence, stigmatization and killing.