Court backs free schooling in Nigeria
01 December 2010, 13:26
Lagos - The west African court based in Abuja on Tuesday gave a ruling in support of the right of a Nigerian child to free education, a spokesperson of the court and a human rights group said.
The ruling by Ecowas Court of Justice judge Hansine Donli came after the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (Serap) filed a suit against the federal government, alleging that its failure to guarantee children an education was in breach of a regional charter of fundamental rights.
Donli said that the Nigerian government did not "contest the fact that every Nigerian child is entitled to free and compulsory basic education".
Millions of children in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, are denied even a basic education as a result of the embezzlement of education funds by corrupt officials and parental poverty, the rights body said.
The judge said while government is taking steps to recover the stolen funds, efforts should be made "to ensure a smooth implementation of the education programme, lest a section of the people be denied a right to education".
Serap, in a statement, described the ruling as "ground-breaking" and a "landmark".
The federal government, through its agency the Universal Basic Education Commission, had earlier told the court that education was "a mere directive policy of the government and not a legal entitlement of the citizens".