Following the Senate Bill that recommends a jail term or fine of N50,000 to parents who default in providing their children with primary and secondary school education, Femi Falana SAN, a human rights lawyer has called on the National Assembly to quit making empty statements about the subpar condition of the country’s basic education system.
Falana criticised the MPs for trying to change the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 by enacting harsh penalties for parents who fail to send their children to school in a statement he signed and made accessible to our correspondent.
The needless resolutions are indeed unfortunate because they show that the federal law markers are seemingly lacking in institutional memories of even the progress made by the legislature in making laws to promote universal access to basic education.
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“Since each of the 36 States of the Federation has adopted the Child’s Rights Act and enacted a Child’s Rights Law, it has become the joint responsibility of the Federal, State and Local Governments to ensure that every Nigerian child is given access free and compulsory education,” Falana said.
Speaking further, the lawyer noted that individuals of the political class have failed to pay enough attention to basic education by failing to ensure that the counterpart fund required to be paid by states is paid to UBEC.
These laws have been observed in their breach because the members of the political class drawn from all registered political parties have not demonstrated any commitment to the education of every child in Nigeria.
“Hence, the members of the legislative and executive organs of governments have failed to appreciate the danger of having 18.5 million out-of-school children, the highest number in the world.
“Therefore, amending the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act to make it more strings for parents who will not work in a poverty-stricken environment.
What the National Assembly should do instead is address the refusal of state governments to make counterpart contributions to the Universal Basic Education Fund pursuant to section 2 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act.
“As a matter of urgency, the National Assembly should ensure the amendment of the Constitution to empower the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from the source the counterpart fund payable by every state government to the Universal Basic Education Fund,” he added.