Written by Godfrey AKON

UBE: UNICEF seeks active role by state legislators

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has initiated moves to equip State Houses of Assembly to play a more active role in the implementation of the Universal Basic Education programme of Nigeria.

A representative of UNICEF, Dr Rosemary Nwaungwu, said the Fund wants to equip the legislators with the knowledge and skills they require to conduct their oversight functions and have required information on what is happening in the sector.

Nwaungwu stated this at a 4–day training workshop for North-Central and South-West State Houses of Assembly Members in Education Committees organised by the UNICEF in Abuja.

According to her, the workshop was to build the capacity of the lawmakers for better understanding of the physical process around the Universal Basic Education, UBE Act 2004.

“We want to equip them with the knowledge and skills they require to conduct their oversight functions and help them to provide information on what is happening in the education sector, which only the education sector people will know,” she said.

The UBE Act of 2004 mandates every state government to provide free and compulsory basic education to its citizens. However, despite the law, Nigeria currently has over 10.5 million out of school children.

Meanwhile, a communique issued by the state assembly members at the end of the training described basic education as a “critical phase of Nigeria’s quest for quality education and national development,” which “should be given more attention by the three tiers of government.”

The communique, which was signed by Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Hon Mohammed Boriya from Kwara, and 7 other members, also noted that the legislative arm needs to play a more active role in monitoring, evaluation, fund tracking and implementation of the UBE Act.

The legislators also resolved to ensure that annual and accurate data is obtained for basic education management and budget oversight.

“That basic education is a right therefore federal and state governments should strengthen their efforts to provide adequate security to the Nigerian populace so as not to hinder access to basic education,” the communique said.

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