The House of Representatives is proposing an extension of compulsory basic education to senior secondary school and compelling state and local governments to take responsibility for the education of children for 12 years.
This is being proposed in a bill seeking to amend the Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act, Cap. C52, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The UBE currently has three components, namely Early Childhood Care and Development Education, six years of primary education, and three years of Junior Secondary School education.
The House is now proposing an additional three years of Senior Secondary School education.
The bill will amend Sections 2, 4, 7, 11 and 15 of the Act to “provide for rehabilitation of delinquent children; provide a comprehensive definition for services, stakeholders and children or wards as captured in the enabling Act; by providing a role for community-based organisations in the development of basic education in states and local government councils; to include senior secondary education as part of basic education in Nigeria.”
The legislation, which passed second reading is a product of five bills consolidated by the House, which were separately sponsored by Taiwo Oluga, Victor Mela, Mansur Sorro, Paschal Obi and Kolade Akinjo.
Sorro, in a message explained that he proposed legislation that seeks to address child destitution in Nigeria through improved basic education and livelihood.
He said, “The formulation of the bill was born out of the need for Nigeria to redefine basic education to cover 12 years, in line with international best practices, Sustainable Development Goal 4, and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.’’
“Redefining ‘basic education’ will extend the mandate of the Universal Basic Education Commission to oversee senior secondary and vocational education.
“Extending the mandate of UBEC to cover the new responsibilities will require more funding. As such, the bill seeks to amend Section 11(1) of UBE Act to increase the Federal Government block grant to UBEC from two per cent to three per cent aggregate of Consolidated Revenue Fund. This will enable the commission to take on the expanded mandate and address the menace of out-of-school children.
The bill seeks to compel the state governments who access funds through the block grant to dedicate no less than 40 per cent of the fund to educating street/destitute children in the state.”
According to the lawmaker, Nigeria is today contending with both insurgency and banditry, largely due to failure of the past leaderships to ensure that children of the poor were educated.
“With 13 million out-of-school children (UNICEF estimates) roaming the streets in perpetuity, our fate as a nation in the next few decades can only be imagined if we fail to address the OSC menace,” he stated.
Sorro, therefore, called on stakeholders in the education sector to support the bill and join the advocacy for its timely passage into law.