Edo government says it will activate a clause establishing the Universal Basic Education that stipulates prosecution for parents who fail to send their children and wards to schools in the state.
The UBE board state chairman, Malam Ali Suleman, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Benin.
Suleman said the decision by Gov. Godwin Obaseki to activate the law was due to the worrisome increased level of out-of-school and street children in the state.
He said, “the board now has the mandate of the state governor to activate the clause establishing the UBE that prescribes prosecution for parents who fail to send either their wards or children to school.
“We now want to ensure that no child of school age is out of school for whatever reason. This is an aspect that has been lacking in the effective implementation of the UBE policy.
“But the government of Obaseki says every aspect of the law must be activated fully.
“He has given a directive after providing us with the necessary tools that will fully activate the law and to ensure that the objective for which the laws were made would be achieved.
“Edo state government is saying that we should mobilise to sensitise the populace.
“And as at today, I have instructed the director of social mobilisation for advocacy visit to all local government areas.
“Now, we are trying to realign with the traditional institutions, the media, civil society organisations and other stakeholders for proper enlightenment that parents should send their children and wards to school and that failure is actionable.
“And if after the exercise, and there is still a large percentage of non compliance, of course, one or two parents will be dealt with to serve as deterrent to others, ’’ Suleman said
He said that government has provided the best infrastructure by making sure that virtually every ward in the 192 wards in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) has a school nearby, saying all you have to do is simply send your child to school.
The chairman note that if parents have challenge, they can report to the local education authority for onward information to the board to intervene
According to him, the intervention is quality assurance. And we have given a marching order to the directorate of social mobilisation which for me, has not been up and doing as it ought to have been.
“They ought to been in the field. I know we have challenge of not having enough vehicles and not enough personnel because of the recession.
“But given the commitment Gov. Obaseki has brought to bear on this aspect of UBE, to ensure that we mop up children out of school.
“This administration is keying into the policy of regular training of teachers different from previous practice of selective training method. The good news is that teachers in the state are excited by it and are also keying into it.
“This is one sure way of bringing back the old respect to the profession where the communities own the school they protect the schools and the facilities.
“The old practice where community reports absenteeism of teachers to us and the challenges they are facing,’’ he said.
He said one way the state government was trying to ensure that all aspects of the UBE laws were activated, was the current forensic audit of the board for transparency and accountability.
“This is to ensure that the funds are directed at the right quarters to achieve the original purpose for which this programme is designed for.
“When there is diversion of fund, it causes lots of hiccups in administrative process,’’ he said.
The state UBE board chairman said that Gov Obaseki believes that education is the future because it is the easiest way to get out of poverty.
“Especially now that the programme provides free education for our children in the first six years of their primary schooling and three years of their junior secondary schooling.
“Therefore, parents must be told, and communities and stakeholders must be reminded that they have a duty to ensure that every child is educated because you can never know which child will deliver the community from darkness.