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. 

The E4J Initiative is part of UNODC's Global Programme for the implementation of the Doha Declaration which was launched following the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice with the support of the Government of the State of Qatar to help UNODC in assisting United Nations Member States in turning their ambitious commitments into reality.

At the primary education level (6-12 years), E4J focuses on promoting and teaching values such as acceptance, integrity, respect and fairness. UNODC and its partners developed innovative materials and tools for children, animated series on the rule of law, a video game to tackle gender-based violence. These tools will contribute to support learning on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 4, 5, 10 and 16.

At the secondary education  level (children 13-18 years old), E4J focuses on providing practical and interactive educational materials such as board games and videos to promote the understanding of the basic concepts that lie at the core of UNODC's mandate areas, including anticorruption, counter-terrorism, crime prevention and criminal justice, organized crime, cybercrime, firearms, and trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. This is achieved through a focus on ownership, behaviour, rights and responsibilities, aimed at empowering secondary level students to identify, prevent and resolve moral, ethical or legal dilemmas.

At the tertiary education (18+), E4J seeks to support tertiary level education institutions and academics in their efforts to transmit knowledge and create a deeper understanding of rule of law related issues. In order to do so, UNODC has already developed numerous university modules to assist scholars teaching on rule of law related issues such as crime prevention, organized crime, counter terrorism, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants or cybercrime.