Every child has a right to quality education and that is why we support education projects in all the states where we work.
In Nigeria school age girls are mostly out of school for several reasons including school based violence, cost of education and child marriage/pregnancies. It is confirmed that girls who are unable to pay school levies are made to take the option of having sex with teachers in exchange. A number of these girls get pregnant and drop out of school. Some are forced to get into marriages, thereby miss out on education. Our Transforming the Education of Girls in Nigeria (TEGIN) project and Promoting Rights in School (PRS) initiative are used to address the barriers stopping girls from going to school.
These projects which are implemented in northern Nigeria and some southern states where there is low girl enrolment and drop out focuses on setting up platforms such as Girls’ club and School Based Management Committees in affected communities and empowering girls to speak for themselves demanding their right to quality public education without any form of abuse.
In an interactive forum with education policy makers in Akwa Ibom State ActionAid Nigeria’s Right to Education Team leader Azuka Menkiti, outlines why rape is rampant in schools and what government should do to address it.
She explained that limited and shared toilet facilities contribute to the increasing incidences of rape in schools and urged government at all levels to give attention to improved sanitation condition in public schools by funding and rehabilitating dilapidated sanitation facilities.
“Nigeria can do a lot to make sure that every school has separate sanitation facilities for boys and girls. This practice can also be encouraged at community in order to maintain privacy and dignity. We need to protect these girls and ensure that we protect their privacy in schools even as young as the age they find themselves in basic education.’’
She also stressed the need for appropriate sex education as an enlightenment and preventive measure for sexual harassment from both students and teachers. Sex education need to be structured in such a way that a child receives information that is appropriate for his or her age at any particular time. If this is done a lot of problems associated with violence against girls in schools will be avoided because they will be better educated and equipped to make right choices.
Azuka said that it is important for students to report rape cases and other forms of molestations to the appropriate authorities and appealed to the public to refrain from stigmatising abused children so that they can speak out on such issues. She called for stringent measures against teachers who indulged in rape in schools saying “any teacher who violates a child should be sentenced to life imprisonment”.
Children should be safe on route to and in school and there must be clear anti bullying policies and confidential systems for reporting and addressing any form of abuse or violence in all public schools.
ActionAid Nigeria’s Right to Education Programme focuses on promoting the right of children especially girls to free, compulsory, quality public education. Our approach aims to strengthen public education believing that the State is the core duty bearer responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling education rights. We also establish platforms that build a new crop of rights conscious school girls in order to secure and inspire a better future for girls’ education in Nigeria.