Nigerian parents and guardians who fail to take a child of school age to school under the nine-year Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme stand the risk of being sanctioned, a government official said over the weekend.
Gidado Tahir, executive secretary of the UBE Commission, told the official News Agency of Nigeria that the difference between the present UBE program and the former Universal Primary Education Program (UPE) introduced by the defunct military regime was the element of compulsion.
"One major difference between UBE and the former UPE is that this one is compulsory. Any child who is between the ages of 6 and 15 must be in school," Tahir said.
"In the former UPE, there was no compulsion, but now if a parent or guardian fails to take a child to school there are certain sanctions to be applied," he said. The executive secretary did not give details about the sanctions.
Tahir had said at the end of 2005 that about eight children in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with some 130 million people, are out of school. About 4.3 million, representing 62 percent of the yet to be enrolled children, are girls.
Nigeria launched the UBE program in 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo took office and enacted a UBE act in 2004 aimed at achieving the UN Millennium Development goals of Education for All by 2015.