Senate Bill Proposes Jail Term for Parents Who Refuse to Enroll Children in Schools

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By Daniel Edu

A new bill, introduced by Senator Orji Kalu (APC-Abia North) and titled the ‘Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2,’ is making waves in the Nigerian Senate. This proposed legislation calls for governments at all levels to provide free, compulsory, and universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age.

The bill, which has successfully passed its first reading on the floor of the Red Chamber, goes even further by recommending that free meals be provided for every child across the country.

According to the proposed act, “Every parent is required to ensure that their child or ward attends and completes their primary and junior secondary school education by taking the necessary steps to enroll the child in these institutions.”

Furthermore, the act stipulates that “stakeholders in education within a local government area are responsible for ensuring that every parent or guardian complies with the duty imposed upon them under section 2(2) of this Act.”

The proposed legislation is not without teeth. It states that parents who are found in violation of the above obligations will face consequences. On a first conviction, the penalty would be a reprimand. However, the act continues to specify that “on a second conviction, the offender would be subject to a fine of ₦2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month, or both; and for subsequent convictions, the penalty increases to a fine of ₦5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months, or both.”

The Senate has taken the proposed fines a step further by amending them to introduce even more stringent financial penalties for those who fail to comply. The amendment increases the fines significantly, stating, “Section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting ₦2,000 and inserting ₦20,000. Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting ₦5,000 and inserting ₦50,000.

“Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting ₦10,000 and inserting ₦100,000.”

In addition to these penalties, the bill makes it clear that anyone who collects or charges fees contrary to the provisions of the act commits an offense and is subject to a fine not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months, or both.

The proposed legislation underscores the importance of ensuring that every child receives full-time education that is suitable for their age, ability, and aptitude, emphasizing the importance of regular school attendance.


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