APPRAISAL OF THE LAGOS STATE LAWS AND THE RIGHT OF A CHILD TO EDUCATION
- Background to the Study
The childhood years have been identified as the most vulnerable years of one’s life, as the child1to a very large extent depends on its parents or guardians for survival. Any omission or commission on the part of the parents or guardian can make or mar the child for life. Under Public International law, the child is recognized as among the vulnerable persons whose rights must be protected and one of such rights that must be promoted and protected is the right to education2.
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 he must be educated first. To deny a person education especially in his early years is akin to denial of life.
- A child has been defined by the Article 1 of the Convention on the Right of the Child 1989 as well as Child Right Act as a person under 18 years. So teenagers are
- Article 1 of the World Declaration on the Right of the Child to Education 1990
- Arinze – Umobi, D. C., The Nigeria Girl – Child, Right to Education and the Nexus with National Development. http//www.right-to- education in Nigeria.co.org/html accessed 21/11/12
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 resources4. 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 children 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 instruments5.
In fact 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 education6. 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…7’
- International law and the Right to Education/Report to education right-to-education.org/nude/234 accessed 13/2/13
- International legal investment for example:Universal Declaration on Human Right 1948 (UDHR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right ( ICESCR) 1966, International Covenant on Cultural and political Right ( ICCPR) 1966
- Article 1 UDHR 1948
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.
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 all8.
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 tigers with 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.
- 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 thefundamental law of the country, reflecting the underlying and unifying values of thesociety, spelling out the basic rights of each person; it also serves as a frameworkfor all other laws and policies in any given state9. 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 gap10.
The state on the other hand is thecentral actor to any claim that borders on the rights of its citizens; it is the primeduty-bearer and the prime implementer of the Constitution. It is the guarantor of the rights provided in the Constitution and it is thestate’s signature vis-à-vis the international norms and standards which binds itto respect, protect and fulfill these rights, particularly the right to education11. So where the state lacks the political will to implement and enforce its own laws, the society is helpless.
- United Nation on right to education Unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/ leading – the intl accessed 13/2/13
- Section 1 (1 & 3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap C 23 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
- International law and the Right to Education/Right-to-education. Project right-to-education.org 13/2/13
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 justiciable12.
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 relevance13.
Herein lays the bone of contention which this research work is set to find a solution. Indeed there are plethoras 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 abuses14. Governments 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.
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