The 10th Senate, led by Godswill Akpabio, has recently passed a bill for the first reading that recommends a significant increase in fines for parents who fail to provide their children with primary and secondary school education.
The bill, titled ‘Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2,’ also includes a proposal for providing free meals to all children in the country.
This legislative initiative, introduced by Senator Orji Kalu, outlines that every government in Nigeria is obligated to offer free, mandatory, and universal basic education to every child of primary and junior secondary school age. It further emphasizes that every parent must ensure their child or ward attends and completes their primary and junior secondary school education by sending them to these schools.
The Act also stipulates that stakeholders in education at the local government level are responsible for ensuring that parents or guardians fulfill this duty. Parents who fail to do so face penalties as prescribed by the law.
According to the Act, parents who contravene these obligations should, upon their first conviction, receive a reprimand. For a second conviction, the fine is set at N2,000, with the option of a one-month imprisonment or both. Subsequent convictions would result in a N5,000 fine, a two-month prison term, or both.
However, in a recent amendment, the Senate has proposed significantly higher fines. The revised bill now recommends a N50,000 fine, replacing the previous N5,000 for subsequent convictions. The amendment also includes a N20,000 fine, replacing the earlier N2,000, and a N100,000 fine, replacing the initial N10,000 for other related offenses.
The bill underscores that anyone who receives or obtains any fee contrary to the provisions of this section will be considered to have committed an offense and will be liable on conviction to penalties not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for up to three months, or both.
The Act also reaffirms the requirement that every parent ensures their child receives full-time education suitable to their age, ability, and aptitude through regular attendance at schools.
This legislative move by the Nigerian Senate aims to strengthen compulsory education laws and encourage parents to prioritize their children’s access to primary and junior secondary education. It remains to be seen how this proposed amendment will progress through the legislative process and potentially impact the education landscape in the country.