by Adefunke Ekine

According to UNESCO, school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) involves acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring within and around the school, perpetrated because of gender norms and stereotypes, and
facilitated by unenforced and unequal power dynamics. These acts or threats not only have detrimental effects on the academic outcomes of their victims but also more specifically, hinder a country’s human, social, psychological, and economic
development in addition to obstructing the government’s poverty alleviation and peace-building efforts.
In Nigeria, there is no known prevalence of SRGBV at the primary school level except as found in the 2014 Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) by the National Population Commission (NPC) (UNICEF 2015), which showed a high
prevalence (approximately 60 percent) of violence among adolescents before the age of 18, a finding corroborated by United Nations Population Fund (2019). In higher education, Mejuini and Obilade (2012) found that 23 percent of university
students had experienced SRGBV, but Iliyasu et al. (2011) found a much higher prevalence—58.8 percent. Cases often go unreported or underreported because students fear victimization, punishment, or ridicule (Njuguna and Itegi 2013).

Specifically, over half of the VACS study population (13- to 24-year-old females and males) had first experienced sexual violence between the ages of 6 and 11, which corresponds with primary school age (NPC, UNICEF, and CDC 2015).
Further estimates suggest that the share of children and youth affected by bullying and school violence ranges from 10 percent to 65 percent, depending on the country and the form of violence (UNESCO 2017).
Violence in a child’s formative years has far-reaching consequences on the child’s physical, mental, sexual, and emotional well-being. Sexual harassment within the school environment can interfere with students’ educational
opportunities, especially among girls. Gender-based violence (GBV) devastates survivors and their families and also has significant social and economic costs.
In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost up to 3.7 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) (Vara-Horna, 2013)—more than double what most governments spend on education.