The International Day of the Girl Child provides a global platform for organizations like the Malala Fund and it’s partners Centre for Girls Education and Youth Hub Africa, to engage the public and to join forces with other organizations and individuals to put the welfare and empowerment of girls in the forefront of their affairs. It is a time when our girls talk about their rights to free, safe, and quality education.
With over 10 million out of school children in Nigeria, it is strange to hear that 46.2 billion in unspent funds sit idly at the central Bank of Nigeria as unacessed funding for Universal Basic Education (UBE )in Nigeria.
On the eve of the International Day of the Girl, the Malala Fund, lead by Country Representative Crystal Ikanih-Musa, convened a civil society strategy meeting to develop ideas on how to push for the passage of the UBE Act amendment by increasing the urgency for lawmakers to consider 12 years of quality education for boys and girls a priority and a matter of urgency. Stakeholders at the meeting agreed this is essential and quite important in order to deliver quality education to more children in Nigeria.
The UBE Act sets aside 2% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to support Universal Basic Education (first 9 years of schooling) in Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. To access these funds, all state Government needs to do is to develop a costed work plan on what is needed for basic education in their states, commit to financing 50% of the plan and show evidence of this, and they will access close to a billion Naira in financial resources to support education for children in their state. Sounds like easy financing!
However, in 2016, only 2 states, Nassarawa and Borno, have accessed the UBE financing. Other states have not.
To find a solution to these challenges, the Senate recently passed 2 bills, one was aimed at reducing the counterpart funding of states from 50 to 10% as well as increasing the contribution from the consolidated revenue fund from 2% to 3%, the other bill focused on increasing the coverage of the Universal Basic Education act from the first 9 years of schooling to 12 years as recommended in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4, which Nigeria signed at the United Nations in September 2015.
To get these bills passed into law, we need the House of Assembly to pass a similar bill. The two chambers (House and Senate) sit down and harmonize the bills and send to the president for his signature. Until the President assents to these bills, they remain mere proposals and millions of children are not guaranteed an education up to the senior secondary level.
Malala Fund is asking the Nigerian Government to:
- Amend the UBE Act to make 12 years of education mandatory
- Provide greater and more transparent investment in education at federal and state level
- Invest in training teachers and building schools
- A plan to get child victims of conflict and violence back into school
Time is running out, if the bills are not signed into law by June 2018, there are strong concerns that the election cycle which will begin in mid 2018 will sweep other important issues away from the front burner of National Discourse. By next year’s International Day of the Girl, we hope we will see real progress from Nigeria’s leaders in keeping their commitment to girls.
The time to act is now!
Youth Hub Africa
Centre for Girls Education