By Christiana Ekpa
In bid to tackle the out of school children plight, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to carry out an assessment of total Federal Government expenditure on basic education over the last ten years to identify how and what these funds have been spent on; and the status of all ongoing capital projects by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) across the country.
The House equally resolved to sanction any parents who refused to allow their children attend school especially the girls child education.
The House mandated its Committees on Basic Education and Labour and Productivity to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter of Nigeria’s out of school children to ascertain the current figure of out of school children in Nigeria, including specific numbers in each state of the Federation through collaboration with state governments.
The Committees on Basic Education and Labour and Productivity are given eight weeks within which to report back to the House for further legislative actions.
It also resolved to commence the process of amending the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Act to establish a programme to identify, recruit and train willing, capable and promising young Nigerians to serve as teachers in under- served areas and to encourage teaching by the Youth Corps Members.
The Green Chamber further resolved that the Committee of the Whole should convene a special public hearing to receive and consider the views, submissions and concerns of stakeholders and citizens, on the matter of out of school children in Nigeria to identify the unique cultural, religious, social and economic factors that cause school dropout and failure to enroll children in school across the country.
The House also directed to hold town hall meetings in their constituencies at the last weekend of this month to sensitize Nigerians on the issue of out of school children to determine the cause, effects and solutions.
These resolutions were taken sequel to adoption of a motion on: “Urgent Public Importance on the Need for the House to Deliberate on the Matter of the Millions of out of School Children in Nigeria and to Consider Lasting Solutions” sponsored by Omowumi Ogunlola (APC) Ekiti on behalf of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila at a special plenary session for out of school children.
Presenting the motion, Ogunlola said the House noted that education is a source of knowledge which changes our immediate environment and the world in general into something better as education can be used to uplift or elevate the social and economic conditions in our society.
According to her, the House also noted that the importance of education can be likened to oxygen to the extent that a nation with a large number of her people lacking quality education is akin to a nation without life as education is the surest means of raising millions of people out of poverty and offering them a chance to live full lives of personal achievement in the 21st-century knowledge economy.
She said the House further noted that the figures of out of school children in Nigeria as provided by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is evidence of a national crisis of such severe proportions that unless urgent action is taken, we are at risk of a lost generation of young people.
Ogunlola further said the House is: “Obvious therefore that if the high number of out of school children in Nigeria is a result of either a failure of policy or a failure of implementation or both as assumed above, we cannot keep doing the same thing and expect anything different: a correction is needed, and this process must begin first with a critical and unbiased assessment of what has been done so far, so that we may understand why it hasn’t worked and how we can do better going forward.
Speaker of the House, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila while giving his opening address for the debate for the out of the school children said
That process of course correction must begin first with a critical assessment of everything they have done so far
“So that we can objectively determine for ourselves what works and what doesn’t, what can be learned from reform efforts and what is necessary to ensure that no Nigerian child, born in this age will ever be denied the benefits of an empowering education”.
“All our nation’s children are God’s children and we owe to each of them the same responsibilities regardless of their gender, the location or circumstances of their birth” he said.