An NGO, the Right to Education Coalition, says it is deeply concerned over the delay in the passage of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act amendment bill by the House of Representatives.
The coalition disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, on Monday, by Mr Tayo Elegbede, Communications Officer, Malala Fund Nigeria.
Elegbede said that the legislative setback had contributed to the growing number of out-of-school children across the country.
“Over 420 days – on Dec. 9, 2020, since the House of Representatives treated and consolidated the UBE HBs 519, 552, 554, 794, and 666, and no significant progress has been recorded.
“This is with regards to improving access of Nigerian children to 12 years of free, compulsory, quality and safe education.
“Recall that Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila at the resumption of the House of Representatives for the 2020 Legislative session on Jan. 28, 2020, indicated that the House would dedicate a special plenary session to consider the issue of millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
“With the expressed desire to address out-of-school children, one would have thought that issues of expanding access to free, compulsory, quality, and safe education up to senior secondary level would top the agenda of the House of Representatives.
Elegbede, therefore, urged the ninth House of Representatives to match promises with performance and speed up legislative and political actions on the passage of the UBE Act (2004) amendment bill.
He stressed that the UBE Act amendment bill sought to provide a legal framework for free, compulsory, safe, and quality education up to 12 years.
According to him, it would also ensure an increase in basic education financing and promote gender-responsive learning, among others.
“The bill has been at the committee stage of the House of Representatives since December 2020, despite the myriad promises and statements, advocacies, and pressure from civil societies and international development organisations.
“Reports estimate that 10.2 million children of primary school age are out-of-school in Nigeria, accounting for 45 per cent of the figure in West Africa.
“More than 60 per cent of all out-of-school children at the primary level are girls. Girls’ education continues to decline due to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and insecurity, especially in Northern region.
“Education is an enabler for sustainable development and plays a key role in economic development, as well as reducing poverty and child labour,” he said.
He further said that although Nigeria was a signatory to several regional and international human rights instruments that affirmed the right to education, there was no constitutional guarantee for citizens to access free, compulsory, quality, and safe basic education for up to 12 years.
He appealed to the Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives to treat basic education as an inalienable right of all children as the country prepares for the 2023 election cycle.
He also called for the provision of necessary legislative and political support to achieve the country’s developmental goals, through education.
The Coalition is a community of international and local organisations led by the Malala Fund, PLAN, UNICEF, PLAC, Save The Children, Invictus Africa, YouthHubAfrica and CSACEFA.
The organisations also support the process of establishing a legal framework for basic and secondary education in the country. (NAN)
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