By Asma’u Ahmad
The Malala Fund has called on Nigeria to invest more on the girl-child education to improve public health and promote economic growth.
The Country Representative of Malala Fund, Crystal Ikanih-Musa, who spoke to the newsmen on Friday in Lagos, said that educating the girl-child would also reduce conflicts and mitigate climate change in Nigeria.
Ikanih-Musa admonition followed calls by 30 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including the Malala Foundation to the 8th Senate to extend free, and compulsory education up to senior secondary school level to females.The CSOs said that the National Assembly had in July 2017, passed an amendment to the Universal Basic Education Act.
Newsmen report that before the amendment can become law, it must also pass through the House of Representatives and receive presidential assent. However, the Bill (SB 324 & 307), passed by the Senate has neither been presented on the floor of the House nor scheduled for any further action.
According to the CSOs, the act will extend the right to free education from nine years to 12 years for all children in Nigeria. It will also ease financial pressure on parents and resource constraints on the states, and help them access federal funds allocated through the Universal Basic Education Commission.
“Presently, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act provides for nine years of free and compulsory education for every Nigerian child. “Yet 10.5 million primary and secondary school aged children (girls) are still missing out on education, the highest number of any country in the world.
“The number of children missing senior secondary education not yet mandatory is unknown. Girls’ participation in school falls below boys at all levels. “Malala Fund’s mission is to see all girls complete 12 years of free, safe, and quality education.
“With over half of the 10.5 million children out of school being girls, passing the Universal Basic Education Act amendment will ensure that more girls complete 12 years of school. “So, we join other CSOs to urge the senate to make education up to secondary school level free, so that more girls will have opportunity for an extended education and empowerment,’’ the Malala Fund country representative said.
Newsmen report that the CSO’s, including the Malala Fund and ONE Campaign, had urged the Dogara-led House of Representatives to support the Bill.