Michelle Obama Asks Vietnam Girls To Stay In School

Former US first lady Michelle Obama attends the United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on May 5, 2018. CHRIS DELMAS / AFP

 

Former US first lady Michelle Obama and Hollywood A-lister Julia Roberts toured a high school in rural Vietnam on Monday, urging a classroom of teenage girls to stay focused on their education to transform their lives. 

The promotion of girls’ schooling has been the cornerstone of Obama’s charitable work since her husband Barack Obama left office in 2017 after two terms as US president.

“When you educate a girl you give them power and a voice and an opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their family and the lives of their community,” Obama said at Can Giuoc high school in southern Long An province in the Mekong Delta.

Accompanied by Roberts and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former US president George W. Bush, Obama encouraged the girls to stay the course of schooling.

“I want you all to stay committed and focused, it will get tough at times — it already has for some of you — but it is well worth it,” she said, before the women sat and chatted with students.

“Even if your families don’t understand that today, trust me they will, when you go off to college or start your businesses,” she added.

With its booming youth population and fast-growing economy, Vietnam routinely outperforms its neighbours in education rankings, especially in math and sciences.

School enrolment rates are also high at 91.7 percent, but the quality of schooling often drops off in rural areas, and in the poorest pockets of the country economic pressures can force girls out of school early.

Student Truong Thi Hai Yen said Obama’s visit — and life story — was a major motivation.

“She kept trying every day to be better and now we can see that she is very successful,” the 16-year-old told AFP.

In her best-selling book “Becoming”, Harvard-educated Obama details how her own education and good teachers shaped her life and paved her path to becoming a successful lawyer, university administrator and advocate.

The Obamas have dedicated much of their time post-presidency to the non-profit Obama Foundation, which includes the Girls Opportunity Alliance initiative that Michelle promoted in Vietnam on Monday.

The former first lady announced last week a $500,000 donation to the Alliance’s work world-wide, money earned from merchandise sales related to her book.

She will travel next to Malaysia with Barack and Roberts to speak at an Obama Foundation Leaders event on Tuesday.

AFP

Lawan Laments, Says Out-Of-School Children In Nigeria Numbering At Least 11 Million

File Photo

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has reiterated concerns about the number of out of school children in the country.

Addressing a delegation of Arewa Consultative Forum which paid him a visit on Wednesday, he lamented that it is not an enviable record that Nigeria has the world’s highest figure of out of school children.

“We are worried and concerned with educational deterioration in many parts of the country and especially the out of school children who numbered about 11 million, some will tell you 14 million,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Mohammed Isa.

“The true thing is that nobody knows the figure. The figure could be much more than that because we are poor with our statistics.

“Majority of these out-of-school children are in the northern part of Nigeria. And this is the highest in the world. It is not an enviable position.

“These out of school children are our responsibility. We owe them, because it is not a privilege, it is their right to be in school. We shouldn’t allow them to continue to stray in the street.

“Whether we call them almajiri or not, these are the leaders of tomorrow and there is going to be a widening gap if such people are left uneducated. They will also contribute security challenge to us if they have not already,” Lawan said.

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He further stated that the Senate is not unmindful of the challenges that the country is currently facing, noting that the north particularly faces more security challenges than other parts of the country.

“Before, the north was safer than many parts of the country. Today the north is worse in terms of security. So we have to work hard with the executive arms of government to deal with the security challenges as much as we can,” he said.

Moving to other matters, the Senate President explained reasons for the plans by the upper legislative chamber to hold roundtable conferences on power, solid minerals and agriculture sub-sectors.

Lawan said the power sector has witnessed a lot of reforms the climax of which was the privatization of the Generation Companies (GENCOs) and Distribution Companies(DISCOs).

“But I think the time has come for us to review what the GENCOs and DISCOs have been able to do since those operators took over from the Federal government of Nigeria.

“Of course, everybody agrees that they have not done very well. We cannot continue to be lamenting and do nothing.

“So we think that we should hold a roundtable Conference and tell ourselves the truth. This thing is not working. We can’t go on like this.

“Without power, we can’t develop this country at all. The insecurity can be related to unemployment among our youths. With improved power supply, definitely there will be more employment opportunity for our youth.

“So we are going to hold that roundtable Conference and we believe that at the end of the day, we should come up with ways and means and ideas on how to move forward.

“This we are not going to do alone. We have to involve the executive arm of government and I’m happy that the President particularly is feeling the same way,” he said.

On Agriculture, the Senate President said there is need for the government to come up with a roadmap and strategy clearly defined targets between now and 2023.

The Senate President also said there is need for a clearly defined policy on solid minreals sub-sector.

“We have to have a policy of supporting truly committed companies which want to do mining.

We believe that if Nigeria relies on solid minerals alone, we can make this country better.

“So we are going to look into the solid minerals sub-sector and see how we can come with legislation that will support it, ” he said.

Earlier, the ACF chairman, Alhaji Musa Liman Kwande told the Senate President that the forum will appreciate it if the railway and road network projects are simultaneously pursued from the North and South to assuage the fears of projects being abandoned after this administration.

He also sought support for the ACF 20th anniversary coming up in March 2020.

Our Educational System Is On The Verge Of Collapse – Chidoka

 

A former Minister of Aviation, Mr Osita Chidoka, says the nation’s educational system is on the verge of a collapse.

According to him, Nigeria has not met the hopes and aspirations of the younger ones since its independence in 1960.

“Is this the Nigeria that was the hope and aspirations of 1960? If a child has great talents, will Nigeria make it possible for him to unfold those potentials? I doubt that very much,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy.

“What is happening is that 60 years after independence, we cannot export groundnut out of Nigeria. 60 years out of our independence, our educational system is on the verge of collapse”.

When asked if the nation faces a bleak future when compared to its journey since independence, the former aviation minister believes Nigeria “was at its finest immediately after the civil war.”

“We took our deliberate decisions to build back a nation. That was a Nigeria that went ahead to say no victor no vanquish.

“That was the Nigeria that introduced the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that took Nigeria from their various communities to where they have never been to,” he said.

Chidoka, however, said he believes that there is hope for Nigeria in the years ahead, especially with the right combination of technology innovation and talent on the part of the younger generation.

Budget For Education Is Not Encouraging, Senators Decry

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate Chamber.

 

 

The lawmaker representing Akwa Ibom South district, Senator Eyakenyi Etim, has faulted the amount of fund allocated to the education sector in the budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year.

She described the money as “not encouraging” during Thursday’s plenary on the second day of debate on the 2020 Budget estimates in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Senator Etim noted that while the executive and parliamentary “have the best of leadership”, the country must improve education if it wants to grow.

Her colleague from Oyo South district, Senator Kola Balogun, supported the lawmaker’s position and called for better funding of the sector.

The Senate confirmed the positions of the lawmakers on its Twitter handle:

Top Key Facts On How Education Is Under Attack In West And Central Africa

 

About thirty years ago,  governments around the world adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, the right to an education is being violated in communities hit by conflict in West and Central Africa.

According to a report by UNICEF on the region in focus, right now, nearly two million children are being robbed of education in the region due to violence and insecurity in and around their schools.

The report titled ‘Education Under Threat In Central and West Africa’, reveals that in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, a surge in threats and attacks against students, teachers and schools – on education itself – is casting a foreboding shadow upon children, their families, their communities and society at large.

Below are more key facts as stated in the report by UNICEF.

1. The number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa tripled between the end of 2017 and June 2019.
As of June 2019, 9,272 schools were closed in the region, affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers.

2. The increasing number of children forced out of school due to violence in West and Central Africa contributes to a total of 40.6 million primary and lower secondary school-aged children who are out of school in the region. About one in four children globally who need humanitarian support – including education and other services critical to learning – live in just 10 countries in West and Central Africa.

3. Nearly half of the schools closed across the region due to attacks, threats of attack and increasing violence are located in the northwest and southwest Cameroon; 4,437 schools there closed as of June 2019, pushing more than 609,000 children out of school.

4. More than 2,000 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, along with more than 900 in Mali, due to growing violence across both countries.

5. The number of schools closed due to violence in the four countries affected by crisis in the Lake Chad Basin – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – stayed at roughly the same high level, varying only from 981 to 1,054, between the end of 2017 and June 2019.

6. Between April 2017 and June 2019, the countries of the central Sahel – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to violence, from 512 to 3,005.

Note: References to school closures include schools closed or non-operational.
Sources of data: Ministries of Education, humanitarian partners and UNICEF.

READ ALSO: Education, The Way To Overcome Poverty – Buhari

Cameroon. Fanta, 14, attends school near the refugee settlement where she landed after the Boko Haram armed group attacked her family, killing her father and brother, and kidnapping her sister. Kidnapped girls are often forced into child marriage – not what Fanta wants for her future. She hopes to study and become a dressmaker. Credit: UNICEF
Nigeria: On the outskirts of Banki, a town beset by violence and conflict, a row of old desks lies across the road. Beyond the desks, homes and shops are deserted because of the dangers nearby. © UNICEF/UN0322365/KOKIC
Northeast Nigeria. Mohammed,12, attends a school in Banki that was reopened after being attacked. With support from UNICEF, the school now includes a high-perimeter wall, gates, and teachers trained to provide psychosocial support to children affected by conflict.

UNICEF’S A Call To Action

More than ever, governments today must reaffirm their commitment to protecting education from attack and providing the resources needed to help their youngest citizens to keep learning.

Now is the time for renewed efforts to make sure the potential of a generation of young people is not wasted.

In a bid to stop attacks and threats against schools, students, teachers, and other school personnel in West and Central Africa – and to support quality learning for every child in the region, governments, armed forces, and other parties to conflict and the international community must take concerted action.

Some of such actions include:

Health And Education, ‘Best Asset To Give’ The People – Buhari

Minimum Wage: Buhari Meets With Implementation Committee, To Receive Report
(FILE) President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting at the State House in Abuja.

 

 

The President has highlighted the importance of health and education to the well-being of the people and the development of the nation.

He said his administration would maintain focus on them but would require the support of well-to-do individuals in Nigeria to achieve success in these areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the attainment of three years without a recorded polio incident in the country.

He noted that the feat was achieved by his administration with local and international support, saying it was something not only to cherish but one that also requires sustained vigilance.

“The best asset to give to the people is health and education,” the President was quoted as saying on Friday in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

“You free them from the tendencies of under-development, especially religious and ethnic manipulations which are challenges facing us at this stage of our development,” said President Buhari who received former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Andrew Young, and board members of Emeka Offor Foundation in Nigeria.

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He, however, expressed optimism that the challenges would wither away with time, saying, “We have to march gradually.”

“It is impossible to be in a hurry. We are seeking inclusive development without leaving a majority of our people behind,” the President added.

He commended the social and humanitarian activities of Sir Emeka Offor, especially in the areas of education and health.

President Buhari said, “You are translating the success you achieved into social service. This is what the government is doing, so you are helping us in many ways.

“I commend your activities in the area of health and education to other successful Nigerians.”

In his address, Ambassador Young expressed happiness with the Buhari administration’s effort toward polio eradication.

He also commended the President’s leadership of the country, saying, “At a time when nations of the world are pulling apart, we are happy that Nigeria is stable and secure under you.

“We will continue working with Nigeria because we consider ourselves as part of the family.”

Education, The Way To Overcome Poverty – Buhari

The President Needs To Rejig His Kitchen Cabinet – Oyebode
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

The President believes quality education is very important to the development of every nation, as it is the way people can be lifted out of poverty.

President Muhammadu Buhari stated this on Thursday while commissioning the Post Graduate Centre of Excellence built by the Central Bank of Nigeria at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State.

“Let me reiterate here that this administration places much premium on education at all levels, as it is the bedrock of society’s progress, and the way to overcome poverty,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Mr Femi Adesina.

The President was worried about the state of facilities in Nigerian universities, due to long years of perennial funding challenges.

He, however, promised that his administration would continue to place a premium on education at all levels.

According to President Buhari, the state of facilities in the universities and other institutions of higher learning has not kept pace with the requirements of the ever-growing population of students and other stakeholders, as well as with modern methods of learning.

He stressed that his administration was committed and determined to continue to fund vital institutions, even in the face of limited financial resources.

The President assured Nigerians that his administration would not rest until it delivers on its commitments on quality education, including investing more resources in the sector and providing a conducive learning environment in academia.

He also expressed confidence that efforts at improving access to quality education in tertiary institutions would enable young Nigerians to make meaningful contributions towards the nation’s development.

President Buhari said, “The wealth of nations today is being shaped by investment in education rather than emphasis on mineral resources.

“Investment in education is a critical factor in driving innovation, technological advancements and employment opportunities in advanced economies.”

The President disclosed that the Federal Government has invested close to N1.3 trillion towards the development of the education sector in the past four years, excluding funds spent on overhead and personnel costs.

Commending the CBN for providing the centre, sited at the Samaru campus of the institution, the he said, “By this exercise, we are building on the vision of the founder of this great institution, Late and great Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, who, as Premier of Northern Nigeria, established this institution almost six decades ago.”

“It is on record that this University has made giant contributions towards the development of our nation and we remain grateful to the Founder of this vision,” President Buhari added.

Obasanjo Calls For Development In Education Sector

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged the government at all levels to give maximum attention to education development in the country.

According to him, 50% of the jobs currently being done today would be irrelevant in the near future, so long term planning needs to be done in regards to changes in the education sector.

He made the call while addressing some youths and students from selected schools in Abeokuta, the state capital during a Youths Governance Dialogue mentorship programme organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.

The former president believes that the current situation in the education sector and the growing population could be an asset if adequately addressed but if not it could spell doom for the country.

He, however, said he was optimistic that despite the current challenges facing the country, greatness can be achieved if the youth play active roles.

We Need A Re-orientation Of Nigeria’s Education Sector, Says Professor

A Professor of Philosophy, Godwin Sogolo, has said that the education sector in Nigeria needs a re-orientation.

According to him, many of the courses taught in Nigerian institutions only equip students with technical skills but lack the moral education that is required for the society to thrive.

Mr Sogolo said this during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.

Read Also: International Youth Day: Gbajabiamila Seeks Transformation Of Educational System

He believes more attention should be paid to such courses in order to help in developing the minds and characters of young graduates.

“We need an orientation in education, the education that merely impacts skills and techniques into students and then they graduate with these techniques, it’s not sufficient.

“Today, the rush is for courses that have technical skills such as technology, medicine, law and journalism. But there are disciplines like philosophy, moral education that are made to train the human mind,” he said.

“There needs to be a reorientation…how many students study philosophy in this country.

“The University of Ibadan, which is the premiere university was established in 1948 and it did not start the teaching of philosophy until 1973.

“In most of the north until recently, there was no university in the northern part of this country had a philosophy department.

“This is the kind of thing I’m trying to say.

“Think about those disciplines that humanise and teach the individual the art of being human, it is important because no matter what skills you have, until you begin to behave like a human, you are not a human and so, society cannot survive without that aspect of education”.

International Youth Day: Gbajabiamila Seeks Transformation Of Educational System

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has urged governments at all levels to fashion out ways of transforming the Nigerian educational system to strengthen the capacity of the youth.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, in which he was commemorating the International Youth Day, the Speaker noted that the government has the primary responsibility of ensuring that every Nigerian is given access to basic and qualitative education.

According to him, the essence of education is to proffer solutions to challenges confronting humanity.

The Speaker further stated that democracy and good governance would thrive in an atmosphere where a sizeable proportion of the populace is educated and well enlightened about their civic responsibilities.

While assuring that the 9th House of Representatives under his leadership would prioritise issues concerning the education sector, Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila emphasized that revamping the sector has become imperative.

The Speaker had in 2016 during his tenure as the House Majority Leader sponsored a bill to provide access to higher education for Nigerians through interest-free loans.

The Bill, which has been reintroduced in this Assembly and has gone through its first reading, proposes a Nigeria Education Bank, which will be established by law to provide education for all Nigerians without any discrimination.

He said: “As we celebrate the International Youth Day, I intend to use the office of the Speaker and the instrumentality of the law to fast-track the passage of this and others Bills that are capable of restoring hope to our youth to reposition them for the tasks of nation-building and global competitiveness.

“It is indisputable that the global economy is knowledge-driven, while the private sector has continued to play a leading and pivotal role in the economic development of states and nations.

“This is why we need to transform the Nigerian Educational System and why the youth should be encouraged to broaden their skills,” the Speaker said.
Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila added, “I wish all Nigerian youths a happy International Youth Day”.

Technical And Vocational Education, ‘Remedy’ To Unemployment – Ganduje

 

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, believes acquiring entrepreneurship skills will go a long way to address unemployment in the country.

He made the remark at the 17th Combined Convocation ceremony of the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti held on Saturday in Ekiti State.

Governor Ganduje spoke shortly after he was honoured at the event with an Award of Fellowship of the institution.

“With rising trends in unemployment predicaments in our society for both skilled and unskilled individuals, technical and vocational education provides the necessary remedy to this disturbing scenario of unemployability of graduates of tertiary institutions,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar.

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The governor, therefore, urged polytechnics across the country to continue providing the leading steps towards entrepreneurship education for self-employment and job creation.

He highlighted some of the successes recorded by his administration in primary and post-primary education.

“For example, in our eight tertiary institutions of learning, we have over 279 programmes that are accredited by agencies responsible for such exercise.

“For instance, Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, has 27 programmes; Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano has 32 programmes and Kano Polytechnic has 72 programmes,” Governor Ganduje added.

Others according to him are Audu Bako College of Agriculture, Dambatta – 27; Kano State College of Education and Preliminary Studies – 15 programmes; College of Arts and Remedial Studies, Tudun Wada has – 18; Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies – 10 programmes; and Sa’Adatu Rimi College of Education, Kumbotso – 78, all accredited programmes.

In their remarks, the Chairman of the Governing Council and the Rector of the polytechnic, Austin Edeze and Dr Dayo Oladebeye, commended the governor for his commitment to the development of education in Kano.

They recalled the Governor Ganduje was a one-time Chairman of the institution’s Governing Council, saying the polytechnic witnessed tremendous academic excellence during his time.

Ganduje was accompanied by the Rector of Kano State Polytechnic, Professor Mukhtar Kurawa; and the Vice-Chancellor of the Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Professor Shehu Musa.

Others are the Provost of Kano College of Education and Preliminary Studies, Dr Sunusi Ahmad, and the Provost of Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, Kumbotso, Dr Yahaya Isah Bunkure.

Crime Against Humanity? SERAP Asks ICC To Investigate Problem Of Out-Of-School Children

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC), to investigate the problem of millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

It also asked the ICC to determine whether or not the “failure of the Nigerian authorities over the years to address it”, amounts to violence against children and crimes against humanity.

In a petition dated July 19, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation says “investigating and prosecuting high-ranking Nigerian officials and providing reparations to victims will contribute to serving the best interests of Nigerian children, and are, therefore, complicit in the crime to be tried by the ICC”.

The organisation also wants the ICC to bring to justice, those suspected to be responsible for the widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

Read the full statement below.

SERAP drags senior Nigerian officials to ICC ‘for leaving 13.2 million children out of school’
 
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a petition to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to use her “good offices to investigate whether the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria, and the failure of the Nigerian authorities over the years to address it amount to violence against children and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
 
The organization urged Mrs Bensouda to: “push for those suspected to be responsible for this problem, including current and former presidents and state governors since 1999, who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively breached their special duty toward children, and are therefore complicit in the crime, to be tried by the ICC.”
 
In the petition dated 19 July 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Investigating and prosecuting high-ranking Nigerian officials and providing reparations to victims will contribute to serving the best interests of Nigerian children, the most vulnerable citizens in our country, and ending the impunity that is denying them their right to education and a life free of violence and fear.”
 
SERAP said: “These out-of-school Nigerian children have been exposed to real danger, violence and even untimely death. Senior Nigerian politicians since 1999 have failed to understand the seriousness of the crime of leaving millions of children out of school, and have made an essential contribution to the commission of the crime.”
 
SERAP also said: “The ICC has stated in the Lubanga case that the interruption, delay and denial of the right of children to education is a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court. SERAP believes that the reality for children living in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is similar to the reality faced by millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria, as the situation is depriving an entire generation of children of their right to education and human dignity.”
 
The petition read in part: “There is no immunity for crimes under the Rome Statute. The crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school is an opportunity for your Office to show the Court’s commitment to effectively enforce its Policy on Children and other important statements of international criminal justice.”
 
“Putting millions of Nigerian children that should be in school on the street exposes them to violence, including sexual violence, gender violence, abduction, and other forms of exploitation and violence against children, and implicitly amounts to enslavement, trafficking of children, and ill-treatment, three of the eleven acts that may amount to a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.”
 
Unless the ICC declares the problem of over 13 million out-of-school Nigerian children as violence against children and crime against humanity, and hold those suspected to be responsible since 1999 to account, the number of out-of-school children will continue to rise, and these children may never receive any formal education at all.”
 
Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001. According to Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.
 
“This figure is based on a joint survey conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government. Data by the UNICEF also shows that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. However, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education Mr Adamu Adamu has suggested the figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria to be 10,193,918, citing a recent ‘National Personnel Audit’ of both public and private schools in the country.”
 
According to the former Minister of Education, all of the 36 states in Nigeria are affected by the problem of out-of-school children but the problem is more widespread and systematic in the following states: Kano, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Oyo, Benue, Jigawa and Ebonyi states.”
 
Girls are disproportionately represented among out-of-school children. In north-eastern Nigeria alone, 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three conflict-affected States (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). In these States, at least 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.”
 
Under Nigerian law and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, the Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels have a legally binding obligation to immediately provide free, universal quality primary education for all Nigerian children, and to progressively provide education at all other levels without discrimination.”
 
Nigerian authorities over the years have restricted educational opportunities for children with disabilities including by failing to provide equipment such as hearing aids, ramps to school buildings, wheelchairs, crutches, glasses and surgery to children in need, and failing to address educational challenges facing children with disabilities, in general.
 
SERAP notes the launch by your Office in 2016 of the Policy on Children, which aims to send ‘a firm and consistent message that humanity stands united in its resolve that crimes against children will not be tolerated and that their perpetrators will not go unpunished.’ The Policy aims to assist your Office in its efforts to robustly address these crimes, bearing in mind the rights and best interests of children.”
SERAP notes also that at the launch of the Policy you stated among others that, ‘a crime against a child is an offence against all of humanity; it is an affront to our basic tenets of human decency. Children are our greatest resource, and must be protected from harm so as to reach their full potential.  We, at the ICC, intend to play our part through the legal framework of the Rome Statute’.”
 
“This statement is entirely consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nigeria is a state party and shows that children will not be invisible in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the ICC, and that your Office will extend its work to ensure the well-being of children, including millions of out-of-school Nigerian children.”
 
“The Rome Statute’s sensitivity towards children’s issues is clearly demonstrated in Article 68(1) to the effect that the Court must ‘have regard to all relevant factors, including gender and the nature of the crime, in particular, where the crime involves sexual or gender violence or violence against children.’ Under Article 54(1), ‘the Prosecutor shall take into account the nature of the crime, in particular where it involves violence against children.’”
 
“SERAP is seriously concerned that the problem of out-of-school children is widespread and systematic, cutting across the 36 states of the country and Abuja, and spanning many years since 1999. The problem of out-of-school children has had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of children, their families and communities, akin to violence against children under the Court’s Policy, and crimes against humanity as contemplated under the Rome Statue.” 
 
“The Rome Statute in article 7 defines “crime against humanity” to include “inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,” committed in a widespread or systematic manner against a civilian population. The common denominator of crimes against humanity is that they are grave affronts to human security and dignity.”
 
“The consequences of throwing millions of Nigerian children that should be in school out on the street are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute. Senior government officials know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent millions of Nigerian children from roaming the street will expose the children to violence, deny them their human dignity and exacerbate the growing insecurity in the country.”
 
“SERAP considers the apparent failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute.”
 
“This crime against Nigerian children has continued to rob our children of their innocence, childhood, and often, tragically, resulted in their untimely deaths, denying Nigeria of its future potential and of its greatest resource.”
 
“The national authorities of the Court’s States Parties form the first line of defense in addressing the crimes against children, as they shoulder the primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of the crimes. But successive governments in Nigeria have been unwilling or unable to address the problem of out-of-school children, and end the crime against humanity.”
 
“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has power to intervene in a situation under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation or if the information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.
 
SERAP, therefore, urged the ICC Prosecutor to:
 
  1. Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999, with a view to determining whether these amount to violence against children and crime against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction. In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude since available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation;
  2. Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria; 
  3. Urge the Nigerian government to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of the widespread and systematic crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school, testimony, and provide other support to the ICC
  4. Compel the Nigerian authorities at the Federal and State levels to ensure that millions of out-of-school children are afforded their right to education, access to justice, and ensure reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition
 
Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
21/07/2019
Lagos, Nigeria