GBV: FG, UNESCO, others call for safer schools

The Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and other stakeholders have called for safe learning environments to curb School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV).

The stakeholders made the call on Wednesday at a three-day Capacity Building Workshop for Education on SRGBV and Adaptation of the Global Guidance on SRGBV in Abuja.

The workshop is organised by the ministry in collaboration with UNESCO and aimed at reviewing the global guidance document, domesticating and find ways for schools to implement the contents.

Dr Lydia Giginna, the Director, Education Support Services, said that care givers should train their children and wards properly so they could exhibit responsible behaviour in school.

“We all know that schools are not immune to communal behaviour norms.

“It is expected that when young people from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds are together in school, threats and acts of physical, sexual or psychological violence should occur as it happens in their various homes and communities.

“This workshop is timely to ensure a holistic approach to address the situation, using all educational stakeholders to eliminate GBV in and around schools.

“It will also enable us to achieve Sustainable Development Goal four target on quality education which includes provision of safe and supportive learning environment,’’ she said.

Giginna added that many adults go through forms of violence in their homes due to dynamics of power play, social dispositions, prevailing gender norms and stereotypes.

According to her, the workshop will ensure achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education for all citizens.

Mr Lamine Sow, the Senior Programme Specialist on Education, said the workshop was being organised under the Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) project of UNESCO.

Sow, represented by Ms Ngozi Amanze, the National Programme Officer on Education, said the project was established to eliminate SRGBV and support schools to promote healthy lifestyles.

He explained that negative social norms that encouraged unequal power structures between men and women, adults and children had contributed to increased SRGBV.

Sow said that UNESCO in collaboration with UN Women developed the global guidance on addressing SRGBV aimed at providing a comprehensive resource with clear, knowledge-based operational guidance, among other contents.

He said the guide showed that the impact of SRGBV was far-reaching which could be physical, educational, mental or even violence against others.

“Until SRGBV is eliminated in and around schools, many of the targets set by the global community through the 17 SDGs to provide safe and supportive learning environments will not be realised.’’

He recalled that the UNESCO’s Education for Health and Wellbeing Strategy, aimed at promoting better health for children and young people ensured they enjoy quality reproductive health education and safe learning environments.

The officer also said that UNESCO had supported the Federal Government, states on frameworks to enable safe learning environments.

According to him, war against SRGBV cannot be won without solid partnership with a plethora of stakeholders, the CSOs, state and local governments.

Sow commended the Federal Government for political commitment and attention paid to GBV, and also called for more consolidation and sustenance.

Amanze, speaking in her capacity, said the workshop would help the nation, the region build a positive health, education and gender equal environment to benefit all adolescents and young people.

According to her, it will also help for demographic dividends.

Dr Chris Ugboko, Family Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, said there was need to mainstream SRGBV in the healthcare system, schools and community for safe learning space and national development.

Ugboko, represented by Dr Inoofon Inyang, also said there was need for laws, protocols on SRGBV that could be implemented which was crucial for educational growth in the country.

Mrs Patience Ekeoba, the National Programme Officer, UN Women, said that the Global Guidance was needed due to high prevalence of violence in school environments.

Ekeoba further said the document would be reviewed and adapted to our local context, urging participants to be realistic in adapting the guidance.

Representative of the Child Protection Network, Flora Egwu, said schools management should empower children to speak up on SRGBV and ensure the issues were addressed.

Mr Godpower Omoregie, HIV/Tuberculosis Practice Lead, Society for Family Health, said that GBV had grown to become an epidemic and should be addressed as such.

Omoregie said “the combined health and social psychological impact of GBV carried by perpetrators constitute measure threats to public health, violation to human rights and impediment to human development in Nigeria’’.

The stakeholders, however, said there was need to plan and include the prevention of SRGBV in schools curriculum. (NAN)