The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has disclosed that addressing the issue of sex for marks in schools was a commendable step towards positive change in society.
The remark was made by Mr Arasu Jambukeswaran, UNFPA’s Head of Office in Cross River on Monday during a debate competition for secondary schools organised by Gender and Development Action, (GADA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the debate which was part of the programme under the Spotlight initiative for 2023 was on the topic: “Is the Blame for ‘Sex for Marks’ Scandals, Primarily on Lecturers or Students?”
Jambukeswaran said The debate was organised as part of ongoing efforts to address issues related to Gender-Based Violence,(GBV) and promote gender equality within educational institutions through the Spotlight Initiative.
According to him, “the ‘Sex for Marks’ scandal is a sensitive subject, and addressing it head-on through open discourse is a commendable step towards awareness and change.
“This debate competition serves as a powerful platform for the exchange of ideas, critical thinking, and open discourse on a crucial and sensitive issue within our educational institutions
“It reflects our collective commitment to address and eradicate gender-based violence and promote a safe and equitable learning environment for all,” he said.
He commended the participants for their courage in lending their voices to the dialogue, adding that their willingness to engage in the debate showcases their intellectual commitment to driving positive change in the nation’s educational institutions.
On her part, Miss Tolani Adebayo, Spotlight initiative Coordinator for GADA said the programme which was to create awareness among students in secondary schools was also to help the students improve their public speaking skills.
“The topic is very important now considering what is happening in the tertiary institution in Calabar.
“If we get these students to understand what sex for marks is early and its consequences, they will be able to protect themselves when they get to the higher institutions,” she maintained.
She added that they had to concentrate on children in secondary schools because, at that stage, they could hardly speak for themselves and needed to be enlightened on what to do in any case of GBV.
Prosper Okemure a student of the West African People’s Institute (WAPI) and one of the debaters stated that the event has given them the opportunity to air their views on the topic.
Okemure who won the award of best debater said GBV does not only happen in schools but also in compounds, families and even within religious organisations.
He said he was going home with the knowledge of speaking out against any issue of GBV in his environment.
The schools involved in the debate were Government Secondary School, Henshaw Town, Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), WAPI and they all have safe spaces established through the spotlight initiative.