Recently, a bill that concerns secondary school education has been passed by the House of Representatives for a second reading. The legislation, titled “A Bill for an Act to Introduce Preventive Measures and Teachings of Sexual Gender-based Violence into the Curriculum as a Compulsory Subject (Civic Education) for All Secondary Schools,” is proposed by the House of Representatives so as to inculcate in secondary school students the preventive skills that are needed against sexual and gender-based violence.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and sponsor of the bill, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, explained that through the proposal of the bill, there would be a systematic and sustainable strategy towards the creation of awareness, preventive measures, management of cases, psychosocial support, case reports, and referral strategies to issues of gender-based violence. As a matter of fact, the teaching of the subject would spread across offences that are similar to gender-based violence and child rights violations.
Residents of urban and rural areas will have equal learning opportunity.
According to Prof. Ihonvbere, the bill’s sponsor, some of the gender-based violence related offences and child rights violations that the subject covers are sexual violence, which includes rape, intimidation, harassment, and many more; bullying and torture, child abuse, harmful traditional practices, which includes female genital mutilation, stigmatizing a child as a witch; child marriage; child trafficking for prostitution, slavery, labor, or ritual killings; gender discrimination; rampant organ harvesting, which has been reported by the National Agency, among others.
As stated by the lawmaker, the introduction of the bill is proposed due to recent research that revealed that there are essential advantages in imbibing in teenagers and young adults, the knowledge of preventive skills to help against issues of sexual and gender-based violence, and basic human rights. Case management or referral pathways of issues related to the aforementioned cases will yield great outcomes, given that male and female, urban and rural areas residents will be granted equal opportunities to learn.
A systematic approach to enlighten young ones should be taken.
The bill, when enacted into a law, will address rampant issues of the SGBV, making sure to address to issues of child protection rights, sexual violence, harassment, rape, and others. Highlighting cases of deceased teenagers such as late Ochanya Elizabeth of Benue State, 13 years old; late Karen Akphager of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, 14 years old; late Don Davis of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, 11 years old; the infamous saga of the Chrisland female student; late Sylvester Oromoni of Dowen College, Lagos, who was allegedly bullied and tortured; among many other cases, the Prof. stated that Nigeria only focus on the survivor-based approach when it comes to addressing issues of the SGBV.
Although the punitive measures are increased, attention needs to be paid to preventive approaches, which explains the reason behind the proposal of the bill. Experts have also said that in order to bring about a reduction in the cases of the SGBV and related offences, there should be an implementation of groups, individuals, and systematic interventions in schools. This intervention has to include the active participation of teachers, students, administrators, and parents. This act, as a systematic approach, will enlighten the young ones on the detection of red flags, thereby addressing the issue by early intervention.
The aims of the bill are realistic and achievable.
According to the lawmaker, the aims of the bill bear clarity, specificity, achievability, measurability, and realism. The introduction of teachings concerning anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Violence into the academic curricula of all Nigerian secondary schools will impact in students, the actual knowledge of the concept of the SGBV. In addition, after the enactment of the bill, there is a goal to record satisfactory knowledge of the SGBV from at least 80 percent of all the participating students, within 12 months of its commencement.