Transforming Education in Nigeria through GCI Alumni Perspectives
Julie Uzor, Deputy director of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education tells us about GCI’s impact in her country
The Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI), a joint initiative of IIEP-UNESCO and UNGEI, has made progress in promoting gender equality in education in Nigeria. Through training programs and capacity development activities, three member states have translated the National Policy on Gender and Education into concrete operational plans, aligning them with other states.
"Gender-responsive education planning in Nigeria has paved the way for the integration of gender into the country's governance and education policies," says Julie Uzor Adeno, Deputy Director of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education.
Appointed as GCI's Focal Point in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, she played a crucial role in arranging two training sessions on gender-responsive planning and management for education officers. These sessions, alongside other capacity development activities, fortified personnel with key skills to advance gender equality within the education sector. According to Julie Uzor Adeno, GCI has helped the education sector in Nigeria gain a greater comprehension of gender inequality and the significance of gender equality.
Nigeria comprises 36 member states and the Federal Capital Territory. Although many gender policies exist, they predominantly target the girl child, with none focusing on gender-responsive education that covers the entire education system.
This is where GCI plays an important role. Thanks to GCI's support, gender responsiveness has gained significant importance in crucial documents such as the Council of Ministers' Strategic Plan. The initiative has united individuals from various regions in one location and ensured the appointment of gender desk officers in all ministries. Incorporating gender responsiveness at the national level has also enabled its inclusion in state-level policies, promoting awareness of its importance and budgetary allocations for gender equality.
Julie Uzor Adeno recognised that financing education activities poses a challenge in implementing gender mainstreaming in public education. She emphasised the importance of the government prioritising the allocation of additional funds towards education. By taking such steps, it is possible to place greater emphasis on gender education, especially in regions where cultural and societal barriers have resulted in lower enrolment rates for girls and limited roles for women in society.
This awareness is now there and ministry staff understand that policies’ gender responsiveness is an issue that needs to be addressed with urgency
Addressing these challenges involves arranging awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns for stakeholders, including village leaders, communities, permanent secretaries, and education commissioners. Julie is convinced that implementing certain strategies will facilitate the integration of gender equality into Nigeria's education system. For example, collaborating with administrators across all regions is expected to have a trickle-down effect, eventually reaching educators with the goal of implementing gender education as a policy nationwide, thus optimising its influence.