Chris Steven, Abuja
Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu has raised the alarm about the state of public basic education in Nigeria saying it is endangered.
Professor Odinkalu who spoke at a one day policy training organised in Abuja by the UKAID and Mercy Corps on the effective implementation of the Child Rights Act and its implications for girl child education and empowerment lamented the poor condition of public basic schools across the country.
While challenging the Nigerian government to make the Child Right Act work, he also challenged the federal government to advocate efforts to get Child Rights law in place in North Eastern and Western states of the federation where, he said, it is most needed.
“Public education is endangered in Nigeria and as a generation and those before us we have failed those coming after us. Twenty five years down the line we may not have public schools or be able to send our kids to public schools because there is no enough supply to deal with the influx of children that are being given birth to.
“Among the 36 states in Nigeria only 23 have enacted the Child’s Right Acts including all other states in the Southern Nigeria except Enugu State. Also in the North, only Benue and Jigawa state have enacted this law and looking at the indices of about 11 million out of school children in Nigeria ,child mortality and early marriage of the girl child which is common in the Northeast is presently the worst in the World”
“States in the Northwest and the Northeast need this law more. Therefore, they need to get the Child Rights Acts a piece of legislation and create public policy on Child Rights Acts” he said
He emphasized that there is no alternative to having access to public education urging the federal government to make the first nine years of basic education free, accessible and compulsory for every child in Nigeria.
He tasked the federal government to critically examine accountability in Nigeria public schools adding that there is the need to regulate tuition fees in public schools.
Speaking on Accountability in public schools, Professor Kalu stressed the need to invest more in girl child education saying there is also a need for the government to build more schools.
“Goobally we have over 58million out of school children in the world and Nigeria contributes about 19percent of this which means that over 10million children are out of school in Nigeria which is also implies that we still have more people who cannnot afford basic education in our country”
The United Kingdom AID and Mercy Corps, a non governmental organisation which is currently providing education for adolescent girls between the ages of 16 and 19 have jointly re-intergrated 18000 girls back into the school system.
The programme is currently operating in Northern Nigerian States of Kano, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory.