The House of Representatives Committees on Women in Parliament and Universal Basic Education (UBE) has pledged to work with all stakeholders to ensure free education for the girl-child up to senior secondary school level.
The Chairmen of the committees made the pledge in a meeting with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the Malala Fund on Monday in Abuja.
The meeting was part of the activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day titled “Choose to Challenge.”
The Chairman, Committee on Women in Parliament, Rep. Taiwo Oluga said that all hands are on deck to make sure the number of out of school girls is brought down to zero.
She said legislative processes were ongoing to amend the UBE Act (2004) to ensure free education for the girl child to senior secondary school level.
She thanked development partners working with the committee and pledged that the lawmakers will ensure the matter is brought to a logical conclusion.
The legislator said that of the total population of the country, women are about 100 million saying that such huge number cannot be ignored or deprived the chance of contributing to nation building.
On his part, the Chairman, Committee on Basic Education, Rep. Julius Ihonvbere identified lack of political will on the part of the National Assembly as a major constraint in getting the girl-child back to the classroom.
He said that there need to declare a state of emergency in the education sector as Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children.
The rep said that the solving the issues around the condition of women generally and the girl child boils down to constitutional approach.
“We need to change the narration and the structure. On our side as legislature, we are ready to work with you to expand the scope of UBEC.
“For me, the foundamental thing here as regards the out of school children has to do with the political will by the National Assembly.
“We cannot continue to talk about more funds rather we need to focus on the expenditure of of what we have on ground.
“For instance, two billion was removed and yet UBE cannot pay grants at State level. I think it is an embarrassment that in this 2021, we build schools without paremeter fencing.
Earlier, Mrs Crystal Ikanih-Musa, Country Representative – Nigeria , Malala Foundation said the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic increased gender based violence.
She noted that a research conducted by the foundation showed a regression in learning by the girl-child, adding that alternative learning was not provided.
Ikanih-Musa said that children in the rural areas were mostly affected because of lack of access to basic equipment that could facilitate e-learning.
She called for an amendment of Universal Basic Education Act to help the girl-child, adding that this would help the girl-child to attend school.
Mrs Omolara Akinyemi, Programme Manager, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) said that there was need for the girl-child to be educated.
This according to her, this will help them to stand up to any inequality in the polity.