Senate President Bukola Saraki and his colleagues on Friday earned commendation from Pakistani child education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai, for a recent amendment to the Universal Basic Education Act 2004.
The amendment seeks to guarante free basic primary and secondary education to every child in the country. It also hiked budgetary allocation to the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, from its current two per cent to three per cent.
The 2004 UBEC Act prescribed free and compulsory primary education for Nigerian child from primary through junior secondary school level and earmarked two per cent of the country’s budget for basic education funding, measures senators now say did not go far enough.
Aliyu Wamakko, chairman of Senate Committee on UBEC, announced passage of the amendment late last month.
He said the current 50 per cent counterpart funding requirements for UBEC which have made it difficult for many states to access the education grant had been reviewed downward to 10 per cent.
”This is aimed at reducing the current situation where most states are unable to access the grant owing to their inability to contribute the 50 per cent of the total cost of projects as its commitment in its execution,” Mr. Wamakko said in the July 28 statement signed by his media aide, Bashir Mani.
The amendment could help curb the alarming rate of out of school children in the country, which Unicef estimated at 10.5 million —the highest in the world.
On Friday, Ms. Yousafzai, 20, welcomed the development on Twitter, describing it as “good news from Nigeria” and hailed Mr. Saraki and his colleagues for it.
The approval came less than a month after Ms. Yousafzai decried the state of education in Nigeria during a visit to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
During the July 17 meeting, which held at the State House, Ms. Yousafzai urged Mr. Osinbajo to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
She also lamented the non-implementation of Child Rights Act by many states in the country.
The youngest Nobel Peace prize winner barely escaped assassination in Pakistan in 2012, for leading campaign for child education.
She was shot by Pakistani Taliban on October 9, 2012, when she was 15.
She now runs the Malala Fund, a child education non-profit she founded.