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Senate bill proposes jail term for parents who refuse to enrol children in schools

The new Senate bill makes provision for free education for students from primary to junior secondary school levels.

Nigerian senators with Senate President Godswill Akpabio (left) [Tope Brown]

Proposed by Senator Orji Kalu (APC-Abia North), the bill titled, ‘Compulsory free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2,’ mandates governments at every level to provide free, compulsory, and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

The proposed piece of legislature, which has already passed the first reading on the floor of the Red Chamber, also recommended free meals should be provided for every child in the country.

According to the act, “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.

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It 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.”

The act specified that any parents found contravening the earlier prescription should be liable, on the first conviction, to be reprimanded.

Reading further, the act says, “On a second conviction, a fine of 2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both; and on subsequent conviction, to a fine of 5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months or to both.”

However, the Senate has amended the proposed fines previously stated in the act and introduced stiffer financial penalties for any defaulter.

The amendment states that “Section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 2,000 and inserting 20,000. Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 5,000 and inserting 50,000.

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“Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 10,000 and inserting 100,000.

In addition, it noted that “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.”

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