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

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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.

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

Nigeria Commits To Reducing Number Of Out-Of-School Children

Nigeria On Out Of School ChildrenThe Federal Government says Nigeria is committed to reducing the number of out of school children by the year 2030.

The declaration follows prediction by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that Nigeria may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education by 2030.

This was revealed in a report launched on Monday in Abuja by the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, at a gathering of experts, government officials and other key players in the education sector.

The Global Education Monitoring Report for 2016, prepared by UNESCO, stated that Nigeria might not achieve universal primary education until 2070.

The report examined how countries would achieve the target and also checked the present status of countries on education globally and where they would be by 2030.

The Director at UNESCO’s Abuja Regional Office, Benoit Sossou, called for increased access to quality basic education as a way of addressing the problem.

Mr Adamu, however, reaffirmed that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring Nigeria meets the 2030 target by reducing the number of out of school children.

On his part, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukiah, also insisted that the 2030 education agenda is achievable with the concerted efforts of all Nigerians.

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) had in August expressed worry over the number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, raised the concern at a meeting with Heads of State Universal Basic Commissions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He said that increasing the number of children in schools was a priority for the Federal Government, stressing that there was no justification for any child not to be enrolled into the basic education scheme.

UBEC Boss Decries Number Of Out Of School Children

UBEC Decries Number Of Out Of School ChildrenThe Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has expressed worry over the number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, raised the concern on Wednesday at a meeting with Heads of State Universal Basic Commissions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He stressed that increasing the number of children in schools was a priority for the Federal Government.

Dr. Bobboyi stated that there was no justification for any child not to be enrolled into Nigeria’s basic education scheme.

He called on state governments to bridge the gap by ensuring the enrollment of children, adding that the basic education funds must be used judiciously.

Malala Questions Nigerian Government’s Education Strategy

Malala-WikeOfficials of the Malala Foundation have decried Nigeria’s ranking as one of the countries with the worst figure of out-of-school children in the world.

The officials expressed their views during the visit of Pakistan girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafsai, to the Minister of Education in Abuja.

Members of the foundation, officials from the United Nations and the Department for State Services were on a fact-finding mission to the Ministry of Education as part of activities to mark the Malala Day in Abuja.

The team questioned the Federal Government’s strategies on education and sought to know why it was yet to achieve significant success in tackling the challenge of access to education and enrolment of the 10.5 million out-of-school children in the country.

The Minister of State was swift to reel out the various projects by the Federal Government to support the states to enrol the millions of out-of-school children across the country but the team appeared unimpressed.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, then explained that the Federal Government was not to blame for the challenge but the states. He revealed that 139 billion naira had already been given to states to improve support.

He, however, promised that the Government would ensure an additional enrolment of at least 2 million children by 2015.

The Malala Foundation officials advised the Federal Government to co-operate better with the states to alleviate the crisis.

The group’s visit to Nigeria takes place almost three months after the abduction of the Chibok girls on April 14.

The renewed pledge by the Government to up the enrolment figures is one Nigerians hope would reduce the education crisis in the country.