By Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Health and education stakeholders, have urged government at all levels to provide strong political commitment and support for adolescents and people’s access to Family Life HIV Education (FLHE) and sexual reproductive health services.
The National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre, Nigeria,
Oluseyi Soremekun, in a statement made available to Daily Sun, said the stakeholders made the recommendations during the National Stakeholders’ Consultation for the West and Central Africa Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People in Abuja.
The health and education stakeholders were representatives of ministries, civil society organisations, youth-led and youth-focused organisations, secondary schools and those with special needs.
They underscored the need to institute policies and mechanisms to upscale admission and promote the retention of girls in school through to the end of secondary school; and further called for strengthening the capacity of school authorities, communities, parents and students to prevent, respond, manage and report school-related gender-based violence.
The stakeholders also called on government to strengthen linkage between education and health sector and also ensure schools are safer for all learners.
They further called for a review of the Family Life HIV Education curriculum to be comprehensive and relevant to existing and emerging issues.
“Strengthening the linkage between education and health sector, particularly through improved quality and coverage of school health services; developing and implementing policies that make schools zero-tolerant for gender-based violence; and ensuring that schools and community environments are safer, healthier and inclusive for all learners, ” the stakeholders recommended.
The Stakeholders further advocated the implementation of the minimum package of services for young people across all states, including the domestication and implementation of relevant laws relating to gender and sexual reproductive health, including Child Rights Acts and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP).
Speaking during the engagement, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the Federal Ministry of Education will do its utmost best to implement some of the recommendations that are derived from the situation analysis of adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
Adamu who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, also said: “The ministry is committed to partnering with other Ministries of Education in the West and Central African sub-region to support and work towards educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people in Nigeria and the sub-region.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire, said young people are central to global, regional and national agenda and are key to achieving demographic dividends.
Ehanire who was represented by the Director of Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Salma Kolo, further said: “Investment in the health and wellbeing of adolescent is key to the achievement of SDGs-related to health, nutrition, education, gender equality and food security. Investment in them is a wise decision to safeguard our future.”
On her part, the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, highlighted the need to use formal education sector as an avenue to push and continue the sensitisation on the negative effects of sexual and gender-based violence on national development.
“I enjoin us all to pledge our full commitment to this course of having educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people in Nigeria,” Tallen said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Mr Sunday Dare, expressed concern about the health of adolescents and young people.
Dare who was represented by Mr Kabiru Muhammed, a Director in Charge of Youth Education and Training in the Ministry, also said: “I will ensure that my Ministry gives necessary support towards this West and Central African commitment for educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people.”
Earlier, the Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria, Ulla Mueller, called on all stakeholders to re-commit to ensuring adolescents and young person in Nigeria are educated, thriving and healthy by making youth centred recommendations that are practical, cost effective and addresses their major needs so that the future of the country would be guaranteed.
Also, the Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Abuja Regional Office, Mr Mamadou Lamine Sow, noted that “the anticipated demographic explosion of young people until 2050 in West and Central Africa, including Nigeria, presents the opportunity of an important demographic dividend conditioned upon the creation of a context in which young people, in particular, girls and young women, can realize their full potential by investing today in their education, health, employment opportunities and empowerment.”