In Nigeria, the governor of Rivers State is set to implement a measure that will jail parents who keep their children out of school. Governor Chibuike Amaechi says it’s necessary because of the large number of children not attending school. Critics say the measure is too extreme but the governor says it’s necessary to train the next generation of leaders. The governor has promised that primary and secondary education will be free.
Ibim Semenitari is the state information commissioner. She says that Governor Amaechi takes the future of the youths seriously.
“The truth of the matter is that development is consequent upon education and if people do not have an appropriate foundation they cannot even be participants in their own development," she said. "Democracy means that the people must know, but how will they know if they don’t have the basic tool by which they know. Societies are enhanced because people have knowledge and because people are empowered to earn an income. It is that that drives the administration of Gov. Amaechi to ensure that Rivers people have access to free, qualitative and compulsory education.”
“Gov. Amaech is only obeying the law”, she says to critics who suggest he is being too extreme in his plans to keep children in schools.
“Indeed the Child Rights Act of Nigeria makes it a crime as a parent not to make sure your child is in school. He is someone who takes the law very seriously. So it is a crime if your child is not in school. That is the only way we can protect the most venerable of our population,” she said.
She says government is targeting the most important phase of a child’s life in implementing the free education program.
“We are talking about the primary and secondary level because the Nigerian and Africa charter insist that all children must be educated up to that age, they must have basic education,” she said.