Education

FG, UNICEF review education policy to tackle gender, insecurity

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By Cecilia Ijuo

The Federal Ministry of Education, in collaboration with UNICEF, is reviewing the national policy on gender in basic education to address insecurity and other emerging gender issues.

UNICEF education specialist Azuka Menkiti told reporters in Abuja on Saturday after a two-day consultative and critical meeting that the review was long overdue.

She said the 14-year policy review was aimed at finding a lasting solution to emerging gender issues.

She stressed that the review would broaden the scope of the policy, which only focused on basic education to ensure inclusion for better implementation.

According to her, work is being concluded on the document for a later presentation to the competent authorities for approval.

“UNICEF, with the support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is helping the Federal Ministry of Education to review the national gender policy in basic education.

“The existing policy focuses only on basic education and has been in existence since 2006.

“We felt we needed to help the government look at it, especially because there are emerging gender issues affecting enrollment, retention, completion and transition, especially for girls.

“We felt it was a good time to sit down to take a look at the document to see how it fits into emerging issues and how it is able to address issues that affect children’s education. , boys and girls, ”Menkiti said.

She added that a review of the level of policy implementation became imperative to determine the level of compliance.

“After a series of consultations, we came to the point that to begin this review, we needed to assess the state of implementation of existing policy documents.

“We wanted to know what had happened; to what extent the document is implemented and we realized in this process that a lot of people said they never know the policy.

“However, there are different strands of gender programs that are influenced not by policy documents but by other programs.

“We therefore felt that we should help the federal government to revise the existing document to ensure that it is all encompassing and that it is able to tackle the gender inequality with which we struggle in the education system”, she declared.

Menkiti said a team of experts has been assembled from different educational levels to lead the review of the document given its importance.

She explained that the review process was not only about criticizing the draft text, but also about reaching consensus on the implementation plan.

According to her, this is to prevent the policy from being reviewed, approved and shelved in offices.

She added that building consensus around the document would go a long way in ensuring proper implementation.

Menkiti stressed that in order to make the document acceptable to all, stakeholders including civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders and experts from various states of the federation were part of the process.

“It is good to mention here that while this process continues, the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE) has met and presented the project and I am happy to report that it has been approved.

“So what we’re doing here is making sure everyone’s feedback is taken into consideration for a final document that will be presented to the Board of Education.

“We have people here from universities, primary and post-primary schools to make sure the content addresses a range of gender issues.

“This revised policy will cover all categories of education, basic, post-elementary and tertiary.

“It will be a very comprehensive document that will address all gender issues,” she said.

Menkiti assured that work would be completed on the document in a few weeks for later presentation to the Ministry of Education.

She added that once this is done, the ministry would have to convene a meeting of the National Board of Education for approval.

In another interview, Ms Enakeme Nnorom, Deputy Director, Gender 2, Federal Ministry of Education, said that once approved, the policy would go a long way in redefining education in Nigeria.

She said that once implemented, girls and boys would benefit from quality education because access would be easier.

She added that there would be mechanisms to control sexual harassment, while channels for reporting and sanctioning bad behavior would be put in place.

“We all know that when you put a policy in place, after a few years there should be a review.

“The policy has never been revised and it has now been about 14 years since it was developed.

“The ministry has interacted with UNICEF and UNICEF has agreed to fund the review process.

“The existing policy is only about basic education, while the one we are working on is comprehensive, including people with special needs and others,” Nnorom said.

She expressed optimism that the document would be approved before the end of the year.

(NAN)

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