Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says Nigeria’s out-of-school children increased because states have failed to access the N67bn Universal Basic Education (UBE) fund.
In a statement on Tuesday, the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the fund was lying fallow at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as at April 30.
Hammid Bobboyi, executive secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), had announced last week that the number of out-of-school children rose from 10.5 million in 2010 to 13.2 million in 2015.
According to Falana, only Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Lagos, Rivers and Federal Capital Territory have utilised the fund up to 2017.
He said the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is the highest in the world because education is not a priority of state governments.
“Having failed to fund public education, the children of the poor are roaming the streets, hawking goods while the rich are educating their children in private schools at home and abroad. But to the detriment of the society, the abandoned children of the poor are being recruited to criminality by terrorists, kidnappers and other criminal gangs,” he said.
“The irony of the crisis is that a government, which claims that it lacks money to fund education is spending several billions of naira to fight insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.
“To arrest the dangerous trend, it is high time the Nigeria Police Force embarked on the arrest and prosecution of parents and guardians, who refuse to allow their children and wards to acquire basic education.”