Photograph — UNICEF

For the first time in Nigeria, the Right to Education Bill has been passed, and Sokoto state is leading as the first state in the country to achieve this monumental feat. By passing this bill, Sokoto state recognises the legal and civil importance of protecting the rights of Nigerian children aged 6-18 years by making education a fundamental provision for them.

The bill, which was passed yesterday, comes off the back of a state of emergency that was declared in the Nigerian education sector in December of 2015. According to Sokoto state’s Justice Commissioner Suleiman Usman, passing the bill in the state would consolidate the declaration, and is also in line with the fundamental objective and direct principle of state policy under chapter two of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

Although education has been recognised as a basic human right in Nigeria since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, around 10 million children in Nigeria do not have access to primary or secondary education. Issues with the cost and quality of education, as well as adequate infrastructure in the country, contribute to the current unfortunate situation in the education sector.

At the commemoration of World Teachers’ Day earlier this month, Professor Olu Akeusola, provost at the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), observed that the problem with education in Nigeria, particularly at the primary level, is its poor quality. Therefore, suggestions were made towards improving teachers’ training in order to develop and promote an acceptable learning environment for early childhood education.

If the suggestions of stakeholders in the education sector such as Prof. Akeusola are taken into consideration by the federal and state governments in Nigeria, they would definitely go a long way to serve the target beneficiaries of the bill.

A right to education bill in any country provides children with access to free, basic elementary education, thus preparing them for higher levels of education. The provisions of the bill see to it that primary education is compulsory and free for every child without discrimination or prejudice. For a state in the northern part of Nigeria, passing such a bill shows that progress is being made towards addressing the stereotypes about the educational standards of the region – especially as affects girls – in addition to a dedication to improving the national standard.

The bill has been deemed a major achievement for the administration of Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal which is committed to transforming the rural areas by delivering social services to the people living in those areas. The Sokoto state government has also initiated the Social and Community Development Agency Bill 2016.


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