Enrol your children in schools or go to jail – Senate bill

The Senate has passed for first reading a bill that recommends a fine of N50,000 to parents who default in providing their children with primary and secondary school education.

The Red Chamber also recommended free meals for every child in the country.

The bill proposed by Senator Orji Kalu titled, ‘Compulsory free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2’ states that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.”

The act further states that “Every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary school education and junior secondary school education by endeavouring to send the child to primary and junior secondary schools.”

“The Act further states that stakeholders in education in a local government area shall ensure that every parent or person who has the care and custody of a child performs the duty imposed on him under section 2(2) of this Act.”

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The act further noted that a parent who contravenes the earlier prescription should be liable, on the first conviction, to be reprimanded.

“On a second conviction, a fine of N2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both; and on subsequent conviction, to a fine of N5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months or to both.”

The Senate, however, in its amendment, proposed N50,000 fines, instead of the N5,000 previously stated in the Act.

It stated, “A person who receives or obtains any fee contrary to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or to both.

“Every parent shall ensure that his child receives full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude by regular attendance at schools.”

However, the Senate proposes, N100,000 in replacement of the N10,000.

The Senate proposed, “Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N10,000 and inserting N100,000.”

Responding to this development, the Programme Coordinator for Basic Education at Reform Education, Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, in an interview with reporters, noted that while the move by the lawmakers seems commendable, there should be an investigation into the additional charges by the public schools across the country.

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