By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives has hinted at a plan to amend the UBE Act (2004) and accommodate free education for the girl child to the senior secondary school level.
The House made the via its Committees on Women in Parliament and Universal Basic Education (UBE) in a meeting with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the Malala Fund on Monday in Abuja
The meeting was part of the activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day titled “Choose to Challenge.”
Chairman, House Committee on Women in Parliament, Rep. Taiwo Oluga who made the disclosure on free education for the girl child said legislative processes were already ongoing to realize the objective, adding that all hands were on deck.
Oluga who put the number of women in the country at 100 million out of about 200 million of Nigeria’s total population underscored the need to give the female gender an opportunity to contribute to national development.
She expressed gratitude to the development partners working with the committee for their support.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Committee on Basic Education, Rep. Julius Ihonvbere said lack of political will by the National Assembly was a major constraint in getting the girl-child back to the classroom, urging the government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
“We need to change the narration and the structure. On our side as the legislature, we are ready to work with you to expand the scope of UBEC.
“For me, the fundamental thing here as regards the out of school children has to do with the political will by the National Assembly.
“We cannot continue to talk about more funds rather we need to focus on the expenditure of what we have on the ground.
“For instance, two billion was removed and yet UBE cannot pay grants at State level. I think it is an embarrassment that in this 2021, we build schools without perimeter fencing”, he said.
Earlier, the Country Representative of Malala Foundation, Mrs Crystal Ikanih-Musa said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic increased gender-based violence.
According to her, research conducted by the foundation indicated a drastic drop in the education of the girl child.
Musa said that children in rural areas were mostly affected because of a lack of access to basic equipment that could facilitate e-learning.
She, therefore, called for an amendment of the Universal Basic Education Act to help the girl-child.
Similarly, the Programme Manager, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mrs Omolara Akinyemi emphasized the need to give attention to the education of girl child which she said would give social and economic opportunities to the girl child in the country.