In commemoration of the 2018 Children’s Day, five non-governmental organisations, ONE Campaign, Youth Hub Africa, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), Noble Missions and Connected Development (CODE) with supports from Malala Fund, are advocating for the extension of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act from nine to 12 years, its immediate passage at the House of Representatives level and its subsequent implementation.
This call was made on Friday, at a conference called ‘the Orange for 12 years of Education’ Media Parley at the Conference Hall, Youth Hub Africa, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja. The purpose of the media parley is to raise the profile of the campaign and facilitate media commitments towards sensitising the public and sustaining advocacy requests from legislators.
Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goal, to which Nigeria is a signatory, addresses the need for quality education for all children up to 12 years, but the UBE Act grants children up to nine years of education, excluding senior secondary. Malala Fund and its partners have been campaigning for the UBE Act to be amended to give all the children the right to 12years of education and enable states to access federal funding more easily.
The Nigeria Country Director, ONE Campaign, Serah Makka-Ugbabe said, “Both the primary and secondary schools are the state governors’ responsibility. 45 per cent of Nigeria’s population is below the age of 15years and most of them are not educated. We have to raise our voices against this injustice if we want to create a better Nigeria in the future because presently, Education is a ticking time bomb in Nigeria. Success means a child is educated well. We must put our hands to the plough.
Adding his voice, the executive director, Noble Missions, Charles Omofomwan, said, “The problem with Nigerian Education is profound. Civil Society Organisations need to come together to address it. The government also needs to approve the Bill and then we need to make sure they implement it.”
While speaking, the executive director, Youth Hub Africa, Mr Rotimi Olawale, said that one question we need to ask is that concerning the funds made available, what are the states government doing about it? According to him, “There is a fund called the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). This refers to all revenue allocated to education in the Nigerian budget, which is about two per cent every year. Presently, we have about 58 billion naira in the CRF available to states nationwide for the development of education in their states.
“The problem is that no state has come to claim its own quota from the allocation for the past four years. The reason is that for a state to access the available funds, the state government must first of all bring a proposal for the development of education in its state, and then provide 50 per cent of the required fund in a separate account while the CRF provides the remaining balance of 50 per cent. So, if the required fund is 2 billion Naira, the state government in question has to provide 1 billion Naira, while the CRF provides the remaining balance.
“The problem now is that the states government are saying that they don’t have the 50 per cent to provide and so the fund is lying fallow in the CRF account and increasing every year. This is very sad.”
Also backing up the claim for extension, quick passage and immediate implementation of the UBE Act and improvement in the education sector, the chief operating officer of Connected Development (CODE), Ojonwa Deborah Miachi, she said that “if the education sector was properly managed, with all the children, especially the females given proper education for minimum of 12 years, then there will be much stronger economic growth and development for everyone.”
The representative of CSACEFA, Mr Adeleke Damian-Mary, while speaking on the finance aspect also said, “Education financing is a major problem of education in Nigeria. Only two per cent of the whole Nigerian budget is allocated to education in the UBE Act. We have to make the best use of it and give quality education to our children or else we will be producing nonentities in the future, which will not speak well for the economic and overall development of the nation as a whole.”
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