By Albert Akota
The National Human Rights Commission on Thursday advised the Federal Government to enforce laws that are meant to provide free and qualitative education to Nigerian children.
The acting Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, spoke on Thursday while declaring open a strategic meeting on the promotion and protection of right to education in ECOWAS member states in Abuja
In his keynote address, Ojukwu lamented what he termed, “a huge gap in education accessibility,” while blaming it on “strikes by both teachers and students, poor quality of teachers, poor learning conditions, high cost of education”, among others.
Addressing members of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa (NNHRI-WA) and other key stakeholders, who convened the meeting at the NHRC’s headquarters in Abuja, Ojukwu reiterated that there was need for education to be accessible to all without any form of discrimination.
“There is need for an inclusive and functional educational system because most of the out of school children are children of nomadic groups, orphans, street children, girls, and children of poor parents who lack economic prosperity.
“In spite of all the existing legal framework and commitments put in place to advance education, there is still a huge gap in its accessibility.
“There is need to come up with more realistic strategies that will be useful to ensure the aspirations contained in these legal frameworks become a reality. This underscores the need for this strategic meeting,” the NHRC boss disclosed.
In her welcome address, the acting Executive Secretary of NNHRI-WA, Mrs. Yemisi Akhile, reminded participants that the right to education as an inalienable right to be enjoyed by all is enshrined in major international human rights instruments, adding that education was what propelled the ECOWAS Commission to take a decision and choose, “Promoting right to education towards the attainment of ECOWAS Vision 2020.”
Akhile noted that the right to education if properly harnessed would result in addressing most of the problems that are peculiar to the ECOWAS sub-region.
The meeting had in attendance representatives from the Federal Ministry of Education, ECOWAS Commission, UNESCO and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).