Quality, universal education is a vital step in the
eradication of FGM in Nigeria, as it is everywhere, and a good level of
literacy in the population makes the anti-FGM message easier to spread. Ending Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of GBV is a priority for countries wishing to achieve ambitious global goals on inclusive and quality education for all and gender equality.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as
female genital cutting or female circumcision, is defined as “all procedures
that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or
any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. @WHO
The World Health
Organization (@WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all
practiced in Nigeria.
FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris
and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).
Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the
clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the
FGM Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris
and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the
labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia
minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and
FGM Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with
creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora
and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris
Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and
apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia
Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This
is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when
defibulation is necessary.
FGM Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful
procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example,
pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or
applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to
desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts
of Nigeria, especially Imo State.
For additional reading on FGM you can visit http://www.who.int and www.endcuttinggirls.org or watch
Recent World Bank analysis demonstrates that FGM can
be reduced, particularly when mothers are better educated.
Recent legislation banning FGM in states where it is
prevalent is a major step forward. Although, the practice continues, most
analysis strongly suggests that much more intensive investments in girl
education are urgently needed.
The Nigerian education system has five main levels.
Pre-primary is three years from the age of three; primary is six years from the
age of six; junior secondary is three years from the age of 12; and senior
secondary is three years from the age of 15.
Succeeding senior secondary, in Nigeria, is University
(a Bachelor in four years) or non-university tertiary education (UNESCO/UNICEF,
The majority of education in Nigeria is provided by
the public sector, and all three tiers of government (federal, state and local)
have responsibilities. A recent survey has shown that 51% of students attend
state schools, 18.5% private schools and 16.5% local-government schools. 5.4%
of students’ education is provided by religious bodies.
In Nigeria, the local-government education authorities
report to the State Universal Education Boards, which support primary and
secondary schools. The National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non
Formal Education, as the name suggests, is responsible for adult and non-formal
education, and tertiary education is largely the responsibility of the Federal
Government (British Council, 2012, p.26).
The private sector is a significant provider, and an
even larger provider in certain poor, urban areas (British Council, 2012,
p.26); E.g., in Lagos private schools account for two-thirds of enrolment (1.5
million children at prim. and jnr-sec. levels). It is estimated that there are
around 18,000 private schools in Lagos alone (DFID, 2013, pp.1-2). The public
perception is that they are better than Government schools because teachers
work longer hours (p.3).
There are high and low-cost private schools, and nearly
a third of Children attending private schools in Lagos come from households living
below the absolute poverty line (p.2). Addressing
a complex issue such as FGM in a way that will bring about sustainable change
requires a comprehensive and context-sensitive response involving many and
varied education organizational structures .
Coordination across all levels is needed to understand
the perspectives of these different structures, what constrains and enables
them to act, and what support, training and resources they need. It is clear
from previous research undertaken by @28TooMany that the inclusion of FGM
education in schools is an essential element in addressing the issue.
This view is also reflected in other studies; for
instance, a survey of secondary-school teachers in North Central Nigeria (2015)
put forward the opinion of the participating teachers that awareness of FGM and
its implications should be taught in schools (Adeniran et al, 2015).
In the education sector, there are also different
union and associations that sees to the overall development of teachers. Some
of these unions and association includes: Teachers Union, International School
Educators of Nigeria, and Association of Christian Schools International. Teachers’
union is one important structure to partner with in the education sector to end
FGM in Nigeria.
Teachers’ union represent the collective of teachers
as employees. As such, they have strong legitimacy among teachers and play a
key role in setting the standards, codes of conduct and practice, and
employment terms of teachers.
As teachers play a key role in preventing and
responding to FGM, teaching unions can support their members to access
appropriate training and support on FGM, raise awareness about FGM and advocate
at a national policy level.
Teachers’ unions are therefore key partners in both
changing teachers’ behaviours and experiences and in looking at the wider
system of education to strengthen support, capacity and readiness to address
With growing pressure on teachers worldwide to measure
progress in more limited ways, such as enrolment, attendance or learning
outcomes, teacher report that the well-being and wider development of learners
can be sacrificed (UNAIDS IATT, 2015). Working with teachers’ unions can help
education systems to give teachers the mandate to better promote students’
social and emotional well-being and create safer learning environments to this
Teachers’ unions should be involved in raising
awareness of FGM among their members, producing tools and materials and
training teachers. The Federal and State
Ministries of Education (F/SMOE) could do more to support teachers to address
FGM by reviewing the school curriculum to accommodate FGM and other harmful
practices affecting the wellbeing of children.
The Federal and State Ministries of Education (F/SMOE)
could, for example, provide better and more training, professional guidance,
stronger teacher resources, as well as clear written codes of conduct and
ethics on FGM and harmful practices.
Work is also being done by various NGOs in Nigeria to
ensure that FGM education is included in school curricula. The Girls’ Power
Initiative provides information for adolescent girls both in their centres and
by conducting lessons in selected schools.
This outreach programme aims to educate girls on
gender and reproductive-health issues, including issues around GBV and FGM, and
aims to train teachers to further this work by continuing lessons and running
GPI clubs in their schools (GPI, 2016). The Centre for Healthcare and Economic
Empowerment for Women and Youth (CHCEEWY) also attempts to advance FGM
education in the school curriculum in Plateau, Benue and Enugu States, where it
In partnership with others, it trains teachers to
deliver the Family Life and HIV Education and Family Life and Emerging Health
Issues programmes, which are approved by the Federal Government.
Again, the formation of clubs in schools to continue
this education is proving successful and being supported by a number of
international donors such as Oxfam (CHCEEWY, 2016). The Child Health Advocacy
Initiative (CHAI) advocates for more FGM education in schools and
through clubs in Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and Ogun States,
where it works.
The Center for Social Value and Early Childhood
Development (CESVED) also raises awareness in schools and holds workshops for
school head-teachers in Cross River State (Augustine, 2016).
Currently, The UNCEF-UNFPA Joint Programme is building
the capacity of in and out of school girls with life skills that will enable
them resist any form of FGM and educate their peers and family members on the
consequences of the practice.
In Nigeria, FGM has, finally being included being
included in the Junior Secondary School (JSS 3) Curriculum. It is under Social
Studies (Sub-Theme Culture and Social Values), and the topic on FGM is treated
under the harmful traditional practices.
In Nigeria, FGM has also being included being included
in the Curriculum for Out of School Boys and Girls. FGM is treated under the
harmful traditional practices.
In conclusion, Partnership with the education sector
is Vitol in the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria.
To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls
Social Media Campaign, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org for
information. You may also follow our
social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using
At this point, I will give room for questions and
contributions from participants. Thank you all for reading our tweets
Together we will end FGM in this generation.