20th August 2019

Lagos, Nigeria

The theme of 2019 International Youth Day celebrated on the 12 August is “Transforming education”. The theme highlights the need to drive efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. The theme is rooted in the Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

We at NHVMAS acknowledge that young people are powerful agents of change and progress when they are educated and empowered to participate in decision-making. Yet around the world, too many youths are being left behind. They receive substandard education or no education at all, and find few decent employment opportunities. They struggle to access basic sexual and reproductive health information and services. Without these tools, young people – young women, in particular – find themselves grappling with poverty, early pregnancy, HIV infection and other challenges.

We at NHVMAS are aware that Nigeria is one of few countries that reports translating national policies on school-based comprehensive sexuality education into near-nationwide implementation using the Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) National curriculum, a lot still needs to be done. Implementation of the FLHE curriculum for comprehensive sex education in Nigeria has been haphazard and is only happening in a few states in Nigeria. Poor funding and the lack of ‘political will’ has prevented universal application of the curriculum throughout Nigeria. There is a big gap between existing policy and implementation.

We at NHVMAS recognize that there are multiple barriers to adolescents and young persons’ accessing education, including sexual and reproductive health education in Nigeria. Sadly, these barriers have only heightened the risk for poorer health and wellbeing for adolescents and young persons in Nigeria with negative impact on the democratic dividends that could have otherwise resulted from the teeming population of young persons in the country.

The New HIV Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) will join the rest of the world to examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education for adolescents and young persons to enhance their sexual and reproductive health. We shall x-ray how these efforts are contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the light of these, we call on the government of Nigeria and all stakeholders involved in formulating policies, and designing and implementing programmes for the youth in Nigeria to:

  1. Show greater political will and should ensure that states and local governments implement the comprehensive sexuality education. Comprehensive sexuality education should be mandatory and linked to other programs like the states AIDS control programs.
  2. Fund and monitor the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in the states using various creative and innovative means that improves access of adolescents and young persons to education irrespective of their schooling status. Currently, the program is dependent on donor funds which are not sustainable.
  3. Support partnerships and collaborative efforts among Civil Society Organisations working on providing comprehensive sexuality education to prevent duplication of efforts and depleting of resources.
  4. Reduce the age of access to sexual and reproductive health services through which segments of the youth population can also access to education that can improve their health and wellbeing.