Some clerics and other stakeholders have expressed commitment to ensuring review of the National Policy on Gender in Basic Education, to resolve issues of inequality at all levels of education.
They said this in an interview with newsmen at the end of a two day Zonal Consultative and Critique Meeting on the National Policy on Gender in Basic Education in Abuja on Saturday.
Speaking, some of the clerics said that their religions did not support gender inequality.
Dr Muhammad Kabir, Imam of Abuja National Mosque, said the review process was a welcome development.
While admonishing religious leaders across the country to continue to preach gender equality, he noted that the male and female gender should be given “equal opportunity for learning. That is what Islam says.”
He commended the organisers for taking such a giant stride in reviewing the policy to find lasting solution to gender discrimination in the education sector.
“I found the document very relevant to the stated goals. Of course learning activities is part of mosque activities. So, we are proud to be part of learning activities any day.
“We are hopeful that when approved and implemented, the policy will yield positive result.
“We commend the organisers for expanding the scope of the review to include religious and traditional rulers as well as Civil Society Organisations(CSO).
“Islamic religion is gender sensitive. That is why we ensure balance at all time. In fact we give room for both genders to be active in all the activities we carry out in the Mosque,” he said.
He urged parents not to discriminate against their male or female children, saying all humans were created by God with different potentials and should be given opportunity to explore them.
In a separate interview, Rev. Marcus Onuoha, Representing Methodist Arch Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Joseph Oche Job, also preached the need for gender equity.
“As Methodists we believe in equity and gender balance because the Bible says whether Jew or Gentile, whether male or female, we are all one.
“So we do not tolerate anything that encourages discrimination. We believe so much especially when it comes to education that gender should be given priority so that boys, girls, women or men will be given equal access to education.
“The God that created men is the same one that created women, so there is no need to discriminate.
“The Arch Bishop believes so much that gender equality should be put into consideration in our education system,” he said.
He called on parents to pay attention to the education of both genders, saying family was the basic unit of the society.
Dr Chinedu Osuji, a resource person at the meeting, said the essence of the review was to have a holistic policy in gender in the education system.
Osuji, a lecturer with the Federal College of Education Yola, said with recent developments it was expedient to revisit the existing policy to keep it in tune with present realities.
“We are reviewing a whole lot of issues spanning from enrolment, employment, violence, insecurity and other gender issues which cut across all levels of education.
“So, we have produced a zero draft for now. After that a final document called a draft will be produced and sent to relevant authorities for approval,” he said.
Dr Elizabeth Animoku, Director, Educational Planning, Research and Statistics, Kogi Ministry of Education, said the review of the policy was coming at the right time.
“In some states we have the problem of girls not being able to go to school. In other states it is the boys that suffer such marginalisation.
“Statistics, however, shows that in most cases, girls are the most hit. I am a typical example.
“It took all for me to go to school to become who I am today because my father did not deem it fit to send me to school because I am a girl,” she said.
Mrs Felicia Ango, Director, Social Mobilisation, Kebbi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said the policy when approved would give opportunity to people who could not attend conventional schools to get education.
According to her, there will be provision for curriculum that will soothe their status to help them become self reliant.
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Mr Kabiru Aliyu, Director Social Mobilisation, Sokoto State SUBEB, said the policy would make provision for mechanisms for reporting security matters, sexual harassment and other gender related issues.
He stressed that, “the policy will help tackle gender issues including issue of safety from basic education to tertiary level.”
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the zonal meeting had participants from six Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory(FCT).
The states are Plateau, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa.
Meanwhile, the National Policy on Gender in Basic Education came into effect in January 2006.
The 24-page document is aimed at promoting equal access and participation in basic education, high level of retention, completion and performance in basic education as well as advocating support in resource mobilisation among others.
It has, however, not been reviewed since 2006, 15 years after it came into effect.
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