The compulsory free universal basic education act was enacted in 2004, to provide a legal framework for the provision of compulsory universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age in the country, and also stipulates a penalty for parents who fail to comply with its provision.
Thirteen years after the enactment of the act ,the country is still bedeviled with large number of out of school children .
According to UNESCO data ,the rate of out of school children of primary school age in Nigeria is 33.4% for both sex.
The situation is particularly worse for the female children as 40% of girls of primary school age are out of school ,while that of the male counter part is 28.9%.
Some analysts are of the opinion that cultural factor are responsible for the high rate of out of school children ,while some are saying lack of adequate funding for public schools,is responsible for this trend .
Studies have shown that a number of African countries such as Malawi,Uganda,Kenya,Sierra Leone ,and Ghana have adopted free education with similar policies for expanding opportunities for basic education .
The outcomes are different in terms of enrollment ratio,survival rates ,and achievement learning .Studies have shown that if policies are similar ,implementation will still make the difference .
Experts in the education sector is therefore calling for extension of universal basic education to twelve years ,
The Nigeria country director ,ONE campaign,Mrs Sarah Ugbabe said the education sector is sitting on a time bomb,and calls for strong commitment from the leaders ,as the country is a signatory to the SDG goals .
While stating that goal 4 specifically addressed the need for quality education for all children up to 12 years .
She stressed the need for commitment from state governors ,to change the state of education in Nigeria .
“We are calling on each state governor to bring the counterpart funding to support education .We want to finance restructuring in the sector .We want funding that will enable children access free education for 12 years “
“We cannot afford to sit on comfort zones any longer ,we all need to lift our voices and ensure that all children in Nigeria is educated .We are the change that the world is looking for,and need to deviate from all forms of complacency “
In the same vein, she called on state governors to improve the quality of education given to students at the state level, especially those in the public schools.
“Several years back, people get high quality of education from public school, but the reverse is the case now, as the private schools have taken the shine.
The state government should provide funding, that will provide necessary infrastructure”.she added.
The education finance campaign consultant of Malala fund, Mr. Femi Aderibigbe, is calling on the House of Representative’s parliamentarians to amend the UBE act, so as to give all children the right to 12 years of education and enable the states to access federal funding more easily.
According to him, “in July 2017 the Senate passed a bill amending the current UBE act to include 12 years of education, and currently, the bill is in the house awaiting passage.
“We are soliciting for the cause of education in Nigeria, and demand that no child is left behind in the country”
Speaking further, he said Nigeria is a signatory to the sustainable development goals and charged the leaders to ensure the attainment of the goals.
According to him, Goal 4 specifically addressed the need for quality education for all children up to 12 years.
He said the Universal basic education act grants children up to nine years of education, which excludes senior secondary education.
The chief operating officer of Connected development, Ojonwa Mianchi called on state governors to invest in education, by empowering the teachers, so as to improve on the quality of education.
“Countries that have invested in the education sector, have a low level of maternal mortality, the human development index is high, and the health indices is improved.
We need to ensure that the student has access to the best education, so they will be able to contribute to the growth of their families, and the country at large”
She stressed the need for state governors to ensure that children in each state of the country have a high quality of education.
“The house of representative legislators should amend the universal basic act to 12years before passing to the presidency” she added.