FG, UNICEF review education policy to tackle gender, insecurity

FG, UNICEF review education policy to tackle gender, insecurity

By Cecilia Ijuo

The Federal Ministry Education, in collaboration with UNICEF, is reviewing the National Policy on Gender in Basic Education to tackle insecurity and other emerging gender issues.

Mrs Azuka Menkiti, UNICEF’s Education Specialist, told newsmen in Abuja on Saturday at the end of a two day Consultative and Critique Meeting that the review was long overdue.

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

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

According to her, works are being concluded on the document for onward presentation to relevant authorities for approval.

“UNICEF, with support from Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is supporting the Federal Ministry of Education to review the existing National Gender Policy on Basic Education.

“The existing policy is focused only on basic education and it has been there since 2006.

“We felt that we needed to support the government to review it, especially because there are emerging gender issues affecting enrolment, retention, completion and transition, especially for girls.

“We felt that this is the time to sit down to take a look at the document to see how it fits into emerging issues and how it’s able to solve the issues that are affecting education for children both boys and girls,’’ Menkiti said.

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

“After series of consultations, we came up with the fact that for us to start this review, we need to assess the implementation status of the existing policy documents.

“We wanted to find out what happened; how far the document is being implemented and we realised in that process that a lot of people said they never knew about the policy.

“However, there are different strands of gender-based programmes influenced not by the policy documents, but by other programmes.

“So we felt we should support the Federal Government to review the existing document to ensure that it is all-encompassing and able to address the gender inequality that we are struggling with in the education system,’’ she said.

Menkiti said a team of experts were drawn from different levels of education to lead the review of the document in view of its importance.

She explained that the review process was not only about critiquing the draft copy, but also to build consensus on implementation plan.

According to her, it is to avoid the policy being reviewed, approved and shelved in offices.

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

Menkiti stressed that in order to make the document acceptable to all, stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations, 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 is going on, the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE) met and presented the draft and I am happy to announce that it has been approved.

“So, what we are doing here is to make sure that everybody’s comment is put into consideration for a final document that will be presented to the Council on Education.

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

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

“It is going to 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 onward presentation to the Ministry of Education.

She added that once that was done, the ministry would be expected to convene a meeting of the National Council on Education for approval.

In a separate interview, Mrs Enakeme Nnorom, Deputy Director, Gender 2, Federal Ministry of Education, said when approved, the policy would go a long way in redefining education in Nigeria.

She said when put in place, girls and boys would have quality education because there would be easier access.

She added that there would be mechanisms to check sexual harassment, while channels for reporting and punishing bad behaviours would be put in place.

“We all know that when you put up a policy, after a couple of years, there should be a review.

“The policy has never been reviewed and it’s now about 14 years since it was produced.

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

“The existing policy is only for basic education, while the one we are working on is all-encompassing, including people with special needs and others,’’ Nnorom said.

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

Education