Child’s rights act (CRA) was adopted in Nigeria in 2003. Subsequently, Lagos state adopted the instrument in 2007 as child’s rights law (CRL). This law ushered in a new legal framework, it stated that every child has the right to life, survival and social development. Hence the importance of children education in any given society is very critical to the social and economic development of that society particularly for its future attainment, advancement and development. To deny the child its right to education is to deny the society its critical development economically, socially and otherwise. The children, because of their vulnerability they cannot cater for themselves hence they must be provided guidance, training and care for meaningful contribution in the society. This task of educating the child for critical thinking and development lies on the society. It was in recognition of this, that the right of children to formal education has been entrenched in several international and domestic legal instruments. However, there is the problem of implementation and enforcement of these laws as there are still so many uneducated and tattered children in the street engaging in hawking, child labour, begging and so on. And the resultant effect of this is that the social and economic landscape of the future generation in the state cannot be guaranteed. In this regard therefore the objective of this paper is to bridge information gap by advocating adequate grassroots sensitization on the existence of this laws, make case for reforms of these enabling laws, and provide research for further research in the knowledge area. The methodology of the research adopted is both doctrinal and empirical research methods. In the course of this research it would be part of my recommendation that the various constitutive instruments though adequate however, may be used as mechanism for effective enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the instruments through basic education. This research work will recommends the provision of machinery that will ensure implementation, adequate grassroots sensitization on the childrens’ right to education and the need to address the issue of poverty which affect society and empowering the rural and partial urban poor through financial assistance.
- Background to the Study
The childhood years is the most vulnerable years of a man’s life, as children depends largely on their parents or guardians for survival. Any omission or commission on the part of the parents or guardian can make or mar the child for the rest of their life. Under Public International law, a child is recognized as among the vulnerable people whose rights requires adequate protection and of which such rights must be promoted and protected even the right to education.. It has been said that education and enlightenment are two nuclei to a proper understanding of what human rights are and the modus operandi in their enjoyment. So for a person to understand and appreciate the entirety of his rights as a human being he must be educated first. To deny a person education especially in his early years is akin to denial of life. Therefore, education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty.
WHO IS A CHILD?
A child can be described as any person under the age of 18 years.
According to Article 1 of the Convention on the Right of the Child 1989 as well as Child Right Act states that a child is a person under 18 years. Teenagers are included.
WHAT IS EDUCATION?
Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty; supporting child survival, growth, development and well-being; and closing the gap in social inequality. The Right to an Education is one of the most important principles in becoming a good and responsible citizen. Education is a key social and cultural right and plays an important role in reducing poverty.
It is also said that education is the greatest force that can be used to bring about change and also the greatest investment that a nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources. A nation whose citizenry are majorly uneducated is sure to be under developed and stagnated. Illiteracy has been traced as the major root cause of poverty and education is identified as the surest route out of poverty especially for most citizens in the developing countries.
Public international law recognizes children’s right to education as a fundamental human right which guarantees the full enjoyment of all other rights as contained in international legal instruments. In facts under international law every individual, irrespective of race, gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religious or political preference, age or disability is entitled to a free elementary education. This right was explicitly enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 which stated thus, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages, Elementary education shall be compulsory.
Article 1 UDHR 1948 Ibid, This instrument recognized the critical importance of education especially at the rudimentary and foundational stages of human life. It is believed that the UNDR actually set the pace for the development and the recognition of the right to education under International law.
In compliance with the declaration, an excerpt from the Lagos state Child’s Right Law 2007, states in S14(1) Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and that it shall be the duty of the Lagos state government to provide such comprehensive education.
Also, the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child among other things enjoins state parties to recognize the right of the Child to Education with a view to achieving the Right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity by making primary education compulsory, available and free for all.
The various Legal Instruments that contain this right have gained universal acceptance at both regional and domestic levels and It is expected that Countries which have ratified and domesticated these Conventions, Treaties, Covenants etc should incorporate them into their local Laws and ensure adequate implementation.
However, in reality these Laws have become mere paper expression little or no practical relevance. For instance, Nigeria as a Nation has at both the Federal and State level domesticated, incorporated and enacted into laws the Convention on the Right of the Child which embodies the children right to education. There is the Child Right’s Act of 2003 and the various State Edicts on the Child’s Right. However not much have been done to achieved the goal from the grassroot.
Article I of the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) 1989. Note that the Declaration on the Right of the Child 1924 and 1959 were precursor to the Convention on the Right of the Child.
Yet, there are no visible effects of implementation in the society. In fact there are no clear cut legal mechanisms set up to ensure implementation of these laws nor is there any such provision in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is a truism that the Constitution of every state is the fundamental law of the country, reflecting the underlying and unifying values of the society, spelling out the basic rights of each person; it also serves as a frame work for all other laws and policies in any given state. In order words the constitution of any country places the limit to which values and rights can be respected, promoted and protected in any given society thus where a lacuna is created by the constitution itself no other law can effectively fill that gap. The state on the other hand is the central actor to any claim that borders on the rights of its citizens; it is the prime duty-bearer and the prime implementer of the Constitution. It is the guarantor of the rights provided in the Constitution and it is the state’s signature vis-à-vis the international norms and standards which binds it to respect, protect and fulfill these rights, particularly the right to education. So, where the state lacks the political will to implement and enforce its own laws, the society is helpless.
Section 1 (1 & 3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap C 23 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
The drafters of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order not to over burden the Government, cleverly exonerated the State from enforcing certain rights which are recognized in international Law (right to education inclusive) by including it in Chapter II on Fundamental Objectives and directive Principles of State Policy which are essentially not justiciable.
Paradoxically, section 6 (6) (c) of the same Constitution ousted the powers of the Court to question Government on any act or omissions relating to Chapter 11. Consequently, chapter 11 are clearly non-justiciable and thus the practicality of the provision that ‘Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy ‘as provided in section 18 has been termed as mere rhetoric with no legal relevance.
Herein lays the bone of contention which this research work is set to find a solution. Indeed, there are plethora’s of international documents guaranteeing and protecting children and their rights especially to education which the Nigeria Government is signatory to that are just dormant and in operative in the face of glaring abuses. Governments at various level have come and gone yet none has mustered enough political will to implement these laws, thus it is the objective of this research work to unravel the seeming challenges and proffer achievable solutions as to the way forward.
Section 18, Constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 as amended directs the government to ensure equal and adequate educational opportunity at all levels. It specifically encourages the promotion of Science and Technology. Of particular importance is section 18(3) which states thus: ‘Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy, and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide:-
Free, compulsory and universal primary education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of this research work is principally centered on how to ensure implementation of these relevant international and domestic instruments on the subject matter. Although lack of political will on the part of the government to enforce the implementation of enacted laws has been identified as a major hindrance yet several other issues constitute obstacles to effective implementation in Nigeria.
Secondly, religious dogmas is also a major concern, although there is no religion that forbid education yet the misinformed always hide under the cloak of religion to deny their wards the right to education. Also lack of adequate grass root sensitization on the right of the child to education further buttress this fact.
The third concern is the patriarchal nature of most societies in Nigeria that discriminates against the girl-child. The major worry here is that the boy – child is b preferred to the girl – child. It is believed that the boy – child is there to preserve the family line while the girl – child’s education will eventually end in her husband’s kitchen. The following are identified as the factors that further encumber the position of the Girl – Child:
Traditionally ingrained negative and obnoxious practices, for example: early marriage.
Girls are often pawned and used for unremunerated and invisible jobs.
- Girls are channeled towards informal courses for home keeping and child rearing and bearing. Girls’ training is regarded as bad investment as they would eventually be married off. Thus a greater number of the girl- child are illiterate, uneducated, vulnerable, disadvantaged in the labour market and invariably poor and unempowered economically.
The fourth concern, is the provision in the constitution that captured the obligation of Government towards education as chapter 2 on fundamental objective and directive principles of state policy which are not fundamental and inalienable rights.
Fifthly, is the fact that although international instruments are recognized by the Nigeria constitution yet its applicability is not automatic as in some country’s constitution where the constitution has recognized and made public international law part of it’s constitution but has to be subjected through the rigors of the National Assembly.
In Nigeria’s situation these instrument has to be incorporated and enacted as national laws first before it can be implemented. But the problem which this research work is set to provide some answers is that after these laws have been enacted and domesticated to local laws, actual implementation by some institution becomes another story entirely. Government officials who are responsible for its enforcement are not adequately informed of their duties and responsibility.
Besides all these, is the lack of appropriate economic mechanism for enforcement. Although this Right has been provided for in the enabling laws there is no mechanism for enforcement, thus violations and abuses go unchecked.
1.3 Scope of the Research
This research shall be confined to the following areas of study:
- A critical analysis on the right of children to education with focus on domestic implementation at the local government level under Lagos state in Nigeria.
- The analysis of the nature and extent of the legal framework for the provision and promotion of the Right of the Child at domestic level.
1.4 Objectives of the Research
The objectives of this study, is to examine the right of children to education under international, federal, states and local instruments vis a vis the adequacies or otherwise of such Laws with a view to identifying the challenges of the institutions and to proffer practical measures, where possible, needed to enhance enforcement in various jurisdiction in international Law with particular reference to domestic implementation in Lagos through the study of the following issues:
- To bridge information gap
- To make case for reforms.
- To provide foundation research for further research in the knowledge area,
1.5 Justification of the Study
The justification for this study is that the concept of the right of children to education is yet to receive wide publicity; most people are ignorant of the existence of the international and domestic instruments containing this right. So there is the need to sensitize the people on the existence of the right and the need for an enforcement mechanism, all of these shall be addressed in this project.
Also, this project will serve as a medium to persuade the Government especially the Legislature and the Judiciary to step up actions toward making these laws enforceable as well as creating awareness for the need to create a platform for the enactment of laws abolishing all forms of violation against children’s right particularly, the right to education.
This project will serve as a medium to sensitize the society on the need to uphold these laws and to protect the Nigeria child from all forms of violations regarding his or her right to education. Moreover, this project will serve as a medium to sensitize the children themselves that they have a right to be protected by the State. For example this will encourage the participation of children in policies making, programme and decisions which is affecting them. Furthermore, it is expected that this study will foster further collaboration between researchers, policy makers, enforcement and practitioners working on areas related to the wellbeing of children.
1.6 Research Methodology
The methodology of the research to be adopted here shall be both doctrinal and empirical research methods. The doctrinal research method otherwise known as the library based research sees law as a normative science and humanity requiring the analysis of cases and statutory provision by the use of the power of reasons. It also means theorizing without considering the practical consequences, which means in this study I shall wade through both primary and secondary sources.