President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has reiterated the importance of education in ensuring peace, security and rule of law in any society.
Saraki, stated this while contributing to the General Debate on the theme: “Parliaments as Platforms to Enhance Education for Peace, Security and the Rule of Law” at the ongoing 140th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Doha, Qatar.
A statement on Monday by Sani Onogu, Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, said Saraki noted that “education is a fundamental human right – central to the development of citizens as well as what contributions they make to society”.
He added that the National Assembly holds strongly that with the right education, Nigerian youths would be less susceptible to the radicalising influence of terrorist groups and other societal ills, thereby “helping to birth a more peaceful, secure and just society.”
The lawmaker, however, regretted that the security challenges confronting the country today are traceable to – or exacerbated by – challenges in the nation’s education sector.
He however stated that even though Nigeria has about 13.2 million Out-of-School-Children – the highest in the world – according to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the 8th National Assembly has and would continue to work with the Federal Government to address the shortfall with combined strategies to enhance peace, security and the rule of law in the country.
Saraki said: “De-radicalisation programmes for former militants or insurgents have a strong education component, and these have proven very effective for peace-building and security.
“The Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-Niger Delta militants involved free local and international tertiary education for former combatants. This is in recognition of the fact that education reduces youth restiveness, which in turn promotes peace.
“As part of parliament’s effort to ensure that education is built on solid foundation, we passed The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Amendment Act which guarantees free and compulsory education for all Nigerians up to secondary school level; while also increasing from 2% to 3% the budgetary allocation to universal basic education.
“The law also makes it easier for states to access UBEC intervention funds, as the benchmark for counterpart funding has been reduced from 50% to 10%. This and other legislative interventions will make all the difference, we believe, in basic education in Nigeria.
“The 8th Senate is looking to amend the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Act 2011 to include Colleges of Agriculture as beneficiaries of the fund, to improve the quality of education in those institutions. We amended the Federal Polytechnics Act to enhance the quality of learning as well as prospects of graduates in the job market.
“The Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institution Bill, which we have also passed, aims to protect female students from gender-based violations.
“We have acted decisively in the terrorism situation in the North with the passage of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) Act, which is all about bringing people back from internally displaced camps back to normal life in the region. Children will go back into the school system and peace will return to those areas.
“We do affirm that the rule of law is crucial to viable democracy, and for a successful and peaceful society. Education is necessary in order for people to appreciate where a society is, and where it should be headed.
“No society develops without sustained democracy and the rule of law, which leads to economic development. Even those who are going to invest in a country will only do so when we have sustainable democracy that guarantees stability; that also requires the rule of law.
“Parliament’s actions must therefore be guided by these considerations when we tackle the education needs of our societies. It is only then that we can truly say that we have been able to use education for the enhancement of peace, security and the rule of law,” he stated.
He insisted that it is important for the General Assembly of the IPU to work for sustainable democracy through Parliaments and for better oversight by parliamentarians to ensure that set targets are met.
“Education is not a choice but a compulsory act that must be taken seriously by all citizens, as I am sure you all agree,” he stated.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja