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Implement UBE Act 2004 for over 13.5m out-of-school children – LEDAP

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) says it has been advocating for the implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act 2004 so as to increase access to free, quality and safe basic education for children in four Northern states, which constitute the over 13.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

LEPAP, in a press statement issued on the ‘Right to free, compulsory, safe and quality basic education in Kaduna,’ said implementation of UBE Act 2004 has became imperative in recognition of the barriers to education in Nigeria, including poor implementation of education laws, insecurity and conflict situations, socio-cultural and religious dispositions, and funding challenges,

The statement, credited to LEPAP’s Pamela Okoroigwe, however, commended Kaduna State Government for its efforts in advancing free basic education, urging it not to lose sight of the overarching goal of reducing the number of out-of-school children in the State.  

“On a day like this, the LEDAP wishes to use this medium to commend the Kaduna State Government for its efforts in advancing free basic education, while urging the government not to lose sight of the overarching goal of reducing the number of out-of-school children in the State. 

“It may be recalled that, in 2017, LEDAP obtained a groundbreaking judgment in the case of LEDAP vs Federal Ministry of Education & Anor, where the court declared free, compulsory and universal basic education an enforceable and justifiable human right. 

“The judgment also affirms that, every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and quality basic education, as part of LEDAP’s efforts to bridge the yawning gap in access to education, particularly in Northern Nigeria.

“LEDAP, with the support of Malala Fund, has since 2018 been advocating for the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Act 2004 and increased access to free, quality, safe basic education for children in 4 Northern states which constitute the over 13.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

“In recognition of the barriers to education in Nigeria, ranging from, but not limited to, poor implementation of education laws, such as the UBE Act, insecurity and conflict situations, socio-cultural and religious dispositions, and funding challenges, LEDAP has since flagging off its awareness campaign on the right to free, safe, compulsory and quality basic education to supported governments’ efforts in its project states to develop guidelines for the implementation of the UBE Act and state level laws, where applicable, reviewed education policies in relevant states, trained education officials on the provisions of the UBE Act, developed advocacy tools such as the ‘right to education factsheet’ to draw critical attention to issues in the education sector and, ultimately, galvanized support for the enrollment of over 2,500 out-of-school children in the project state.

“LEDAP applauds the Kaduna State Government for investing in key education reforms, which have yielded tremendous benefits, most significantly, in the area of infrastructural development in public schools, and not to mention, actions aimed at improving learning outcomes.

“However, there is need to do more to increase enrollment and retention of children in schools, especially girls. LEDAP reckons that the Kaduna State Government banned hawking as a measure of getting children of school age off the streets and charged the Education Marshals with the mandate of reducing truancy, regardless, we cannot but urge the government to take further steps to evaluate the effectiveness of these volunteer marshals, strengthen their mandate to discharge their duties and, most importantly, implement the basic provisions of the UBE Act and eradicate all forms of ‘hidden fees’ demanded by schools in the state.  

“This will not only mitigate high school dropout rates but also will, in the long run, advance the development indices of the State and sustain the gains made by both the State and development partners such as LEDAP and Malala Fund.

“In similar vein, LEDAP is encouraging education officials and stakeholders not to rest on their oars in guaranteeing access to free, safe, basic and quality education for children in the State, and further urges the government to commit more resources to education through increased budgeting and funding in a gender-sensitive and inclusive manner,” it stated.

The release was made available to participants at the end of a media parley on ‘Promoting Basic Education Law in Kaduna State’ on Tuesday, at Mold Suite No.2 Lafiya Road, by Independence Way, Kaduna, by the state coordinator of LEDAP, Mr. Michael Aboh.

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