Promoting education to prevent crime, drug use, and violent extremism in Nigeria

Abuja, 18 June 2019 - In a 2018 interview, Onyinye Ough, Executive Director of Step Up Nigeria, an NGO promoting good governance in Nigeria declared: "I've been seeing how corruption has become a bit more culturally acceptable…Social norms are one of the things that drives corruption. So, I thought, 'why not start with young people to shift these norms, to say this is actually corrupt behaviour that can harm?'"

Already in 2015, the international community identified education as a crucial tool in preventing crime, drug use and violent extremism among youth.  It is in this spirit that the Federal Ministry of Education and UNODC launch the Education for Justice (E4J) Initiative in Nigeria. The E4J initiative seeks to prevent crime and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities and materials designed for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The overriding objective is to help educators teach the next generation basic values such as respect, integrity, fairness and empathy making them more resilient against crime, violent extremist ideologies, and drugs, to help them better understand problems that can undermine the rule of law and to encourage students to actively engage in their communities and future professions in the promotion of a culture of lawfulness.

Through the E4J Initiative, UNODC has been supporting Step Up Nigeria since 2018 to promote the fight against corruption with children books. In March 2019 the Office in partnership with Facebook and African Teen Geeks organized a Hackathon for Justice providing young coders an opportunity to put their skills in the service of the promotion of the rule of law. 

Following the launch, UNODC will work with the Federal Ministry of Education as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) towards promoting the integration of crime prevention and other rule of law related topics into the education curriculum at all levels, through the sensitization of teachers, professors and policy makers and other stakeholders active in the education sector at Federal and State levels.

Acknowledging the importance of the E4J Initiative, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Echono who was represented  by the Director of Basic and  Secondary Education, Mrs Lami Amodu, said "I am particularly delighted that this initiative is coming up at a time when the government is embarking on programmes and activities aimed at steering the youths to the right direction and consciously promoting culture of obedience to the rule of law, integrity, honesty, complete abhorrence to a life of drug, crime and criminality."

And while expressing optimism about the positive impact of the intervention and pledging the Ministry's collaboration for the successful implementation of the programme, he said "The E4J initiative is expected to leverage on the existing government programmes in order to achieve the desired result of equipping students at all levels of education with requisite skills, attitudes and values reorientation to enable them function effectively and optimally in the fast-changing world."