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Children‘s Participation rights in the universal basic education

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Education is vital to the all-round development of the child. It enables a child to develop skills and knowledge, which will improve his/her livelihood and earning potential during later stages of his/her life. Education also contributes significantly to improved health. Education of parents particularly the mother, has a significant effect on the quality of care provided for the child. Otaala (2004), reports that a study in Africa found that a 10 percent increase in female education which also implied 10 percent decline in child mortality. Furthermore, education assumes a prominent position in the development of many nations. As Anthony (2001), submits, education in the hands of government can be used to give direction to national development. This is probably why the Nigerian government has increasingly become very involved in education in the last few decades. Successive governments in Nigeria have come up with various policies that are rights-based. The attainment of political independence in 1960, therefore signalled increased awareness of the indispensability of education as an instrument for national development (Fafunwa, 1986). Various human rights instruments have provided for education as a fundamental human right. Specifically, these include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples‘ Rights 1981. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 states that ―all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights‖ (UNESCO, 1995). In the same vein, Igbuzor (2006) contends that education is a ―right‖ that should be accorded to all human beings solely by reason of being ―human‖. Nigeria, being member of the United 2 Nations, ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991. The Convention, which held in 1989, is comprehensive, universal, unconditional and holistic (Owen-Ibie, 1999). It recognises that, irrespective of place of origin, children have fundamental rights and freedom like other human beings. They have the right to life, to good health, education, a caring family environment, play, protection from exploitation and abuse of all kinds, among others. Since the adoption of the CRC in 1989, virtually all the countries of the world have accepted to implement the standards recommended in the treaty. The CRC being adopted in 1989, came into force in 1990 (UNESCO, 2001). Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that ―a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier‖ (CRC, 1989). The implication is that a child, in the face of the law, is meek and innocent and needs the protection of the parents and the law in order to survive and grow properly into a complete being. Despite article 1 allowing a lower age of majority, there are rights in the convention that continue to apply to all those under eighteen years, regardless of the age of majority. These included the prohibition of the application of the death penalty for people under 18 years and, in an optional protocol to the convention, the prohibition of recruitment of those under 18 years into the armed forces. The 1999 Constitution, which is the apex law in Nigeria, has no direct provisions on the rights of children. Chapter II on ‗Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy‘ spanning sections 13 to 24 contain principles to guide and direct the Nigerian state in the formulation and execution of policies on child survival development and protection. Section 17 espouses the ideals of freedom, equality, justice, human dignity and the sanctity of the human person; the provision of adequate infrastructure for leisure, social, religious and cultural life; medical and health facilities for all persons; protection for children and young 3 persons from all exploitation, and from moral and material neglect. Similarly, Section 21(a) directs the state to protect, preserve and promote Nigerian culture, which enhances human dignity and is consistent with the fundamental objectives. By implication, all harmful traditional practices against children ought to be outlawed.

Statement of the Problem

The family is a vehicle of protection for children. A child in the African culture is precious. As prospective leaders, emphasis is placed on bringing them up properly. Osifeso (2009) emphasizes the need for the society to be informed, parents mobilised and teachers and children instructed. In most societies, traditional attitudes towards children are warm. In fact, Nigerians can be said to value children. The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) in 2008 reiterated that 10 million Nigerian children of school age were not in school and that most of them were either hawking goods on the streets or doing some menial labour to make ends meet. The study showed that 6.8 million of these children were girls while 3.8 million were boys. In addition 53 percent were of secondary school age while 47 percent were of primary school age. It is worrisome that such a huge number of Nigerian youths will enter into the competitive world without the knowledge of the social, political and economic realities of life. According to Soyinka (2007), referring to a study by the Federal Ministry of Education (2009) ―State of Nigerian Public Schools,‖ 140 million Nigerians, of which 45 percent were children from 0 to 15 years, and of these 63 million, 42.1 million were eligible for primary school education but only 22.3 million were in primary schools with the public school system catering for percent 85 percent. In essence, 47 percent of Nigerian children that should be in primary school were out of school. The question of the impact of parental awareness of government policies on education and the children‘s participation in the process is of particular interest since the observed decreased access to education. It is of particular interest therefore to assess the way in which parental level of awareness of the Child Rights‘ Act affects children‘s participation in the Universal Basic Education programme

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Updated: 7th July 2019 — 6:55 am

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