Sometime in 2005, the nation’s education ministry was embroiled in a controversy involving lurid, sexually offensive contents of a new school syllabus which first introduced sex education in Junior high schools in Lagos State under Integrated Science, Family Life and Hiv/AIDS Scheme of Works before it spread to other states.
If as a parent or guardian you missed the controversy, you may also have failed to observe subtle changes in the moral character of your little boy or girl who passed through the Junior Secondary School (JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS) in Nigeria since 2005. Some parents viewed it as a virus ‘injected into the educational system’ without knowledge of parents, and children of adolescent age were the target.
But the storm that rose with it, education ministry’s efforts to manage the situation and ripples that continue to trail the subject is still a subject of apprehension today in the absence of a thorough examination of the contents of the integrated science curricula.
Mr. Femi George-West, a top security officer with a vehicle assembly company in Lagos sometime in 2005, lost his peace when his 15 year old daughter came from school late one afternoon and asked, ‘Daddy, what is ejaculation?’
Narrating his experience to Daily Times at his Ilori Street, Ire-Akari Estate, Isolo, residence, George-West said the child was only in her first year in the senior high school.
“When I recovered from the shock, I quizzed her to know where she got that kind of word from; then she said some new teachers have started taking the junior and senior secondary students in a special science class after school hours.”
The parent was thoroughly shaken and went with his ward the next day to her school, Okota Grammar School, Okota.
“I demanded to see the teacher and to know what science subject required my daughter to know about ejaculation. I was told the teachers were not even part of the school, that they represent some NGO called Action Health Incorporated or something like that, but I was furious; I forbade my daughter never to continue with them in that class.”
But Alhaji Ahmed Hamma, a business executive, philanthropist and Muslim scholar of 28, Bishop Crowther Street, Surulere, Lagos, did more than restrict his daughter from continuing with the class. His story.
“Sometime last year, my daughter aged 14 in junior secondary school two (JSS2) at Satellite Town Secondary School, Satellite Town, Lagos, told me that some trained teachers have been coming to their school to teach them the techniques of masturbation, dating and putting on condoms.
“That was not all, the teachings included sexual communications and negotiations, how to do abortion in secret, how to practice ‘safe-sex’ in secret without getting pregnant by using contraceptives like IUCD, injectables, vaginal foams and jellies, diaphragm, hormonal implants, oral contraceptive pills, touching and examination of male and female reproductive organs.
“She said the teachers brought naked body images and taught them about erection, ejaculation, kissing, caressing, and sterilisation procedure for male, by making incision in scrotum and by cutting and tying the Vas deferens, sterilization procedure for female by cutting and tying the Fallopian tube, infertility and other similar immoral topics during their integrated science class.”
Shaking his head in anguish, Alhaji Hamma revealed further that his daughter told him the teachers bring out a rubber penis and a rubber vagina to demonstrate to the students in open classroom on how to put on the condoms and enjoy sex without getting pregnant and without anyone knowing about it.
“I became alarmed and rushed to my daughter’s school to ascertain from the school authorities why they were teaching my daughter such immoralities.
“To my chagrin, I met a teacher who confirmed what my daughter told me and I learnt that the immoral topics which my daughter and her fellow students were forced to learn were topics in the newly introduced Integrated Science Scheme of Work being used to teach young students in junior secondary school level of education in Lagos State and other States.”
A further probe by the upset father of many young children in different secondary schools in Nigeria revealed that the teachings first started in public schools in Lagos State but was extended to other schools in Nigeria with effect from September 2005 without the consent of parents and other stakeholders of education in Nigeria.
“I went to the staff room of the Satellite Town Secondary School and with the assistance of a teacher there, I found copies of the corrupted Integrated Science Schemes of Work for students in junior secondary school and Sexuality Education Scheme of Work for students in senior secondary schools.
“After securing a copy, I engaged the teacher in a further conversation about the teachings, and she told me that, to ensure the success of the teaching of the above topics in Lagos State and all over Nigeria, the Ministry of Education at the instance of Action Health Incorporated had recruited some special teachers in Nigeria, gave them special training on how to teach the above immoralities in schools and thereafter, gave each of them a copy of a Teaching Manual called Comprehensive Sexuality Education and dispatched them to different schools to be teaching these topics.”
The discovery generated uproar among stakeholders and Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria who were all not informed of the changes in the school curricula.
In March of 2005, Family Enhancement Programme, an arm of the Lekki Club for Ladies, led by its director of special programmes, Mrs. R. Elesho, confronted the Lagos State Commissioner for Education and education minister with the offensive school syllabus in use and demanded an explanation for such unilateral decision without involving stakeholders; the meeting was held at the Lagos State Ministry of Education Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja on 23rd of March of the same year.
In a report prepared by Mrs. Noela Nwosu and made available toDaily Times, the then Hon Commissioner, Mr. Kunle Lawal, while agreeing that there were obvious areas of mistake, an otherwise ‘innocent innovation’ seems to have been misunderstood. Lawal had in defence of his ministry’s action, had explained that the scheme was a ‘life skills/sexuality education programme’ pioneered by Lagos State in collaboration with an NGO – Action Health Incorporated.
“We were informed that eight other states in the country had already sent delegations from their Education Ministries to understudy the Lagos State initiative.”
Contrary to the Commissioner’s insinuation that the scheme was pioneered by Lagos State in collaboration with an NGO, Daily Times investigation revealed that Action Health Incorporated is a section of United States School Syllabus, giving children a no-holds-barred insight into sex education. How it was smuggled into the Nigerian school curricula by whom, is a question begging to be answered by the nation’s education ministry.
Also defending his ministry’s reason for the initiative, Lawal said a recent study had projected that by 2015, Lagos State is envisaged to become the largest city in the world and would face serious challenges on every front, especially socio-economic aspects. “The state was therefore trying to position itself to develop a modern urban state with changes in its approach to life/education.” The Commissioner also mentioned the intention of Lagos State government to raise level of awareness of HIV/AIDS and the danger of being careless with our bodies.”
According to the commissioner, his concerns were heightened by recent upsurge of truancy in Lagos State schools, students’ involvement in armed robberies, gambling and indiscriminate visits to pornographic sites in cyber cafes.
Despite these explanations, the Commissioner accepted responsibility for the Scheme of Work, although, he said, he was personally unaware that such unnecessarily explicit and immoral topics had been smuggled into the syllabus.
In response to the agitations and articulated misgivings by the organisation, Lawal gave six undertakings, including a directive to the Director of Special Programmes in his ministry to immediately suspend the teaching of those topics.
But when the education ministry was foot dragging over the suspension of the programme and continued the teaching and spreading the immoral knowledge to other states of the Federation, Alhaji Hamma took a bold step.
“I went to consult the Incorporated Trustees of Project for Human Development (PHD), which office wrote letters to the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly and Ministry of Education among others, complaining about the teaching of immorality in secondary schools in Lagos State and other States in Nigeria and threatened to go to court if the illegal practice was not stopped.”