The Senate yesterday urged the Judiciary in the 36 states to set up mobile courts for the enforcement of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act.

The Upper Chamber noted that such enforcement would curb the growing menace of out-of-school children across the country.

The Senate mandated its Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) to engage the Federal Ministry of Education with a view to paying special attention to the phenomenon to reduce the number of such children in the country.

It urged the Ministry of Education, its related parastatals and agencies, such as the UBE, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to: “severally and jointly bring up new strategy to effectively deal with out-of-school children problem as well as rekindle the national consciousness through sensitisation and advocacy on the importance of education to the growth and development of our country and the benefits of having majority educated population.”

The Senate urged them to “set a time limit of two years for the diligent implementation of the UBE Act, as stipulated in Section 2 (2)”.

The Red Chamber also urged government at all levels to implement targeted intervention programmes that would address all the factors militating against free access to quality and basic education, particularly multidimensional poverty and insecurity.

The resolutions of the Senate followed its consideration and adoption of a motion, titled: Compelling need to tackle the challenge of Out of School Children in Nigeria, during plenary yesterday.

The motion was sponsored by Senator Idiat Oluranti Adebule (APC, Lagos West).

In her lead debate, Adebule urged the Senate to note that the issue of out-of-school children had become worrisome, based on the 2022 Report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The senator said the report showed that about 20 million Nigerian children were out of school, representing 10 per cent of the estimated Nigerian population of 200 million people.

She said this was the highest number of out-of-school children in any country in the world today.

“Also notes that though the Ministry of Education disputed the figure, it is generally agreed that whatever the real figures, the issue of out-of-school children has become an albatross on the neck of the Nigerian state that must be dealt with as a matter of urgency,” Adebule said.

Senators Mohammed Monguno, Ahmad Lawan, Adams Oshiomhole, Simon Lalong, and Jibrin Barau supported the motion.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio urged the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to adopt the measures he adopted in Akwa Ibom State when he was governor.

Akpabio said his administration, back then, stipulated six months imprisonment for parents or guardians of school aged children found on the streets or in the farm during school hours.

He said: “Since education is the bedrock of all good things in any society, government at all levels should ensure that no child of school age stays out of school in Nigeria.

“We did it in Akwa Ibom State when I was governor by enforcing compliance to the UBE Act. All parents or guardians were made to know that anybody caught not sending his or her child to school risked six months imprisonment…”

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