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Parents may face jail if child stops school

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Government should provide free, universal, and basic education for all children.

A measure that would impose a N50,000 sanction on parents who fail to send their children to primary and secondary school has been approved by the Senate for first reading. The Red Chamber also suggested providing a free meal to all of the country’s children. Section 2 of the bill that was sponsored by Senator Orji Kalu and named the “Compulsory free Universal Basic Education Act 2004,” explains that every government is required to provide free, universal, and mandatory basic education for all children who are of age to attend primary and junior secondary school.

The act stipulates that every parent or guardian is responsible for ensuring that his or her child or ward goes to primary school and junior secondary school and finishes both of these levels of education by making every effort to enrol them in school. The act also specifies that education stakeholders in a local government area are obligated to ensure that every parent and other person who is responsible for the care and custody of a child fulfils the duty that is imposed on them by section 2(2) of this act.

Disobeying parents would be subject to a reprimand.

In addition, the act stated that a parent who disobeys the earlier prescription should be subject to reprimand on the first occasion that they are found guilty of doing so. After a second conviction, the offender faces a fine of N2,000 or a term of imprisonment for one month, or both; after a third conviction, the offender faces a fine of N5,000 or a term of imprisonment for two months, or both; and after an additional conviction, the offender faces both.

However, the amendment that was proposed by the Senate would increase the fines to N50,000 from the previous N5,000 that was indicated in Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act. According to the change, section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by removing N2,000 and introducing N20,000. It was stated that Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is changed by removing N10,000 and replacing it with N100,000 as the amount.

Any found guilty of the offence will be fined and prosecuted.

It was said that anybody who receives or acquires any fee in violation of the provisions of subsection(1) of this section is guilty of an offence and, upon conviction, may be subject to a fine of up to N10,000 or imprisoned for a term of three months, or both, depending on the circumstances of the case. Every parent is responsible for ensuring that their child attends school on a regular basis so that the child can obtain an education that is proportionate to the child’s age, ability, and aptitude.

Furthermore, as a means to respond to this turn of events, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, who is the Programme Coordinator for Basic Education at Reform Education in Nigeria, expressed his thoughts on the matter in an interview with Punch newspaper. He pointed out that even if what lawmakers are doing looks like a good idea, there ought to be a thorough inquiry into the additional fees that public schools all throughout the country are charging their students.

Edo state has also commenced the same initiative.

Similarly, the governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has declared that his administration will begin prosecuting parents whose children were not enrolled in school. Obaseki, who made his remarks in Benin City, the state capital, before the start of the new school year on September 12th, 2022, assured the public that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure compliance. Any child discovered loitering or peddling during school hours will be arrested, and the child’s parents or guardians will face serious punishment. To ensure that no child in Edo State is abused, they employ specially trained individuals to keep a close eye on them.

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