Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Tuesday faulted the directive by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu to the National Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) to remove sex education from the Nigerian educational curriculum.
The Executive Director, Education as a Vaccine, Mrs Toyin Chukwudozie, on behalf of 53 organisations, in a statement in Abuja disgreed with the directive.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister at the 66th Ministerial Session of the National Council on Education (NCE) had given the directive to expunge sex education from the curriculum.
The minister argued that sex education should be left in the hands of parents and religious institutions and not to be taught in schools in a manner that would further corrupt little children who are having access to phones and technologies.
But Chukwudozie said that anyone who had interacted with the curriculum would know that it was set to provide the support and guidance for adolescents, and young people.
”These young people need to navigate through the changing phases of their lives that are so critical, and mostly experienced while they go through the basic and senior secondary education.
” This development is very unwelcome and erodes 20 years of progress made by the ministry of education and other state and non-state actors to provide wholesome education that meets the needs of learners at different levels.
” It appears the minister has not been provided appropriate information and advisory by relevant officials about Nigeria’s Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE) curriculum, the journey towards having this curriculum, and the impact for adolescents, and young people.
” The FLHE curriculum was approved by the same NCE in 2002 because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the constant rising incidents among adolescents and young people.
” It is imperative to adopt strategies that will centre this vulnerable group at the heart of prevention and response, one of such strategies was the adaptation into the school curriculum,” she said.
According to Chukwudozie, the FLHE curriculum is a planned process of education that fosters the acquisition of factual information, formation of positive attitudes, beliefs and values as well as development of skills’.
She said this would help them to cope with the biological, psychological, sociocultural and spiritual aspects of human living.
She said that the curriculum was aimed to provide information and skills that were necessary for young people to make rational decisions about their bodies.
She added that the curriculum was not against any religious or cultural groups or teachings in the country.
” It is pertinent to mention that parents, teachers, traditional and religious leaders, policy makers and implementers across all states of the federation were actively involved in the drafting of the content of the FLHE.
“As with a curriculum that has been implemented for 20 years, huge resources have been invested in making this implementation effective both by government, donors, and civil society.
” From the research, numerous consultations, and workshops to effectively incorporate it in school subjects working with the NERDC, to training of teachers to be equipped to effectively deliver lessons.
” The implementation addresses and supports learners to navigate experiences that come with their social, physical, and mental development,” she said.
The executive director also recalled that in June 2022, the minister signed, on behalf of the government to the Freetown Manifesto on Gender Transformative Leadership in Education, committing to among other things supporting strategies to address harmful gender norms in pedagogy.
According to her, the FLHE is one strategy that the ministry of education has employed to achieve this.
“We the civil society groups reject this sudden regression. We as Nigerian parents, educators, learners, and advocates are expecting conversations on how we will improve the quality of the delivery of the FLHE programme and its long-term sustainability.
” We urge the 36 commissioners of education to properly inform the minister of the implications of such declaration and to fully support the FLHE implementation with allocation of adequate resources to reach millions of Nigerian learners with lifesaving information and skills to reach their full potentials.,” she said.
Among the 53 CSOs who endorsed the statement are the African Girls Empowerment Network, African Network of Adolescents and Young Persons (ANAYD),Alliances for Africa (AFA), and Amaclare Connect and Development Initiative (ACDI).
Others are Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARHF), Association of Positive Youths in Nigeria (APYIN), Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care, Bridge Connect Africa (BCA) and
Cara Development Foundation (CDF).
In the list are also the Cedar Seed Foundation Centre for Girl’s Education Africa (CGE), Child and Youth Protection Foundation (CYPF), Child Shield Initiative, Civil Society Coalition to End Child Marriage in Nigeria, Deaf Women Aloud initiative and DoFoundation International.