Group Expresses Concern over Move to Remove Sex Education from School Curriculum
•UN resident coordinator seeks strengthening of SGBV prevention efforts
Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) has raised concerns over the proposal to remove sex education from Nigeria’s basic education curriculum.
This was just as the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Matthias Schmale has advocated the need to strengthen prevention efforts to curb sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
The NFF appealed to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, the Federal Ministry of Education and the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) to rescind the decision to expunge sex education from the nation’s education curriculum.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Communication and Programme Assistant of the NGO, Adaeze Ekpunobi, made available to newsmen in Lokoja, yesterday.
The statement stated that removal of sex education from school curriculum would jeopardise the rights of students to health education given it immense benefits to the health, well-being and protection of the child from diseases, infections as well as teenage pregnancy.
The NFF insisted that Adamu and NERDC should in the interest of Nigeria and its public health reverse the policy with quick rescission of the government’s decision on the controversial sex education review.
“The NFF believes that the directive is ill-advised and stems from a place of ignorance on the value of sex education as a right and vital aspect of health education and holistic wellbeing of school-aged young Nigerians,” it added.
The group noted that expunging sex education from Nigeria’s schools’ curricula may exacerbate myriads of sex-related risks that young school-aged Nigerians were exposed to.
The NGO noted that contrary to the minister’s position on sex education, “evidence-based researches at national and international levels, outlined the benefits of sex education to include delayed sexual initiation; reduced risk-taking; increased use of contraception; and improved attitudes to sexual and reproductive health.”
It therefore called on governments and policy-makers to provide safe, accurate and incremental sex education to young people in the country, adding that sex education in schools was imperative in today’s information age, where young people could access information from the internet and social media.
“The Nigerian government cannot afford to neglect the right to health and holistic well-being of millions of school-aged Nigerians. the repercussions of such carelessness and retrogressive action will impact on all aspects of the Nigerian society,” it added.
The NFF therefore called on the Minister of Education to,
“withdraw his directive on sex education to NERDC and the Federal Ministry of Education; to ensure that mechanisms are put in place across the country to protect the right to health and holistic well-being of every school-aged Nigerian.
“Ensure that the sex education curriculum in the country is in line with the International technical guidance on sexuality education.”
Meanwhile, the UN Resident Coordinator, Matthias Schmale has advocated the need to strengthen prevention efforts to curb sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
According to him, the two elements for SGBV prevention are to strengthen justice response as a strong deterrent and education of girls.
He stated this during a high-level UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative’s joint mission held in Sokoto.
He stated that SGBV emergency like other national crises required responses in agile and fast manner.
Schmale, the Co-Chair of the UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative commended the Sultan of Sokoto for his, “wise and impactful leadership.”
“You stand out for the leadership you demonstrate in supporting girls’ education and promoting the Child Rights Act,” he stated.
He also lauded efforts of the Sokoto State government and all other stakeholders towards the fight against SGBV.
“Visits like this can make a difference in terms of reminding us of what all of this is about and seeing how our collective investment positively impacts lives,” he stated.
“I pledge to you that beyond the life of the Spotlight Initiative, we are supporting in partnership with the EU, the UN will do everything possible to help end violence against women, girls, and boys,” he added.
The Chairman, UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative and Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba, identified empowerment of women as crucial to the achievement of growth and development goals of the National Development Plan (2021-2025), Nigeria agenda 2050, and AU Agenda 2063
He expressed the federal government’s commitment to the SGBV fight, disclosing that the government was supporting two more forensic labs alongside the one in Adamawa state to contribute to proving rape cases in court so that they get speedy dispensation.
The minister also disclosed the issuance of a circular to key MDAs to provide a budget line for SGBV issues in the 2023 budget.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen noted the spotlight initiative had increased awareness of the GBV, up scaled service providers and touched the lives of women and girls in Nigeria.
She described the rate of physical, psychological and emotional violence against women, girls and boys as very disheartening, with high incidences in the cities.
In a remark during the delegation’s visit to the palace, the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar said the sultanate had been at the forefront in advocating for girls’ education and supported the passage of the Child Protection Law (CPL) and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP).
‘It’s been a long journey, but we have started, and we will not stop until violence, women and girls, ends’, the royal father stated.
“This will be through strengthening the engagement between traditional and religious leaders to leaders in their communities and the implementation of laws,” he added.
European Union Head of Governance, Peace and Migration, Ruben Alba Aguilera, noted that with the intervention, Sokoto had recorded huge improvement and became a leader in the north, with other states taking after its lead.
The visit also saw the coordination meeting with key state Ministries -Women Affairs, Justice, Budget and Economic Planning-and community members.
A key highlight of the event included the launch of the gazette copies of the VAPP Act and CPL and referral pathway and directory of all services across the six local government areas in Sokoto State.