Gbajabiamila seeks amendment of National Youths Service Act

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said he will seek legislation to amend the National Youth Service Act to allow the corps to establish a “Teaching for Nigeria” pathway.

Making his remark at the Special Plenary Session of the House to consider the matter of Nigeria’s millions of out of school children in the House Chamber, Abuja on Thursday.

He said the amendment will allow the identification, recruitment and deployment of willing, capable and promising young Nigerians to serve as teachers in underserved areas during their service year and for a number of years after, in exchange for a Federal Government commitment to fund their post-graduate education in addition to whatever allowances they might receive during their deployment.

“House is to consider the matter of the millions of children in our country who are out of school, and who as a result are denied their fundamental right to receive the training and skills acquisition opportunities that will allow them to have better lives than their parents before them, and provide a better future for their offspring.

He added that over the last twenty years, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has committed to a programme of educational reform that has resulted in the allocation of significant sums of money to fund basic education access in our country. “These reforms have been intended mostly to address the availability gap by building new schools and providing teachers in previously underserved areas. These investments have not yielded the desired outcomes.

In too many parts of the country, the school attendance rates have not improved, and the quality of education being received by those who enroll and attend still falls far short of our most fundamental expectations. “We must consider that perhaps the time for a massive course correction has come.

That process of course correction must begin first with a critical assessment of everything we have done so far, so that we can objectively determine for ourselves what works and what doesn’t, what can be learned from reform efforts and what is necessary to ensure that no Nigerian child, born in this age will ever be denied the benefits of an empowering education”, he said. He noted that education excellence also calls for administrative accountability and a fair admissions process across the board.

“We cannot continue to relegate huge swathes of our national population to second class citizenship through the operation of an affirmative action system that is rooted in outdated ideas about our nationhood. “Lifting our ambitions to the consideration of bigger things requires of us that we commit ourselves to a determined and sustained effort to confront the cultural and religious beliefs and practices that influence decisions about education.

A child’s gender should never determine whether they get an education or not”, he added. Furthermore, he said the constitution guarantees all children a right to basic education. “We must now act to live up to that obligation. All our nation’s children are God’s children and we owe to each of them the same responsibilities regardless of their gender, the location or circumstances of their birth.

If we do nothing else today, let us all take advantage of this special session to tell ourselves the reality, so that we may liberate ourselves from the shackles of limited thought and through our collective efforts, achieve the vision of a nation where no child is left behind, where no child is forgotten and all God’s children have the opportunity to fulfill the highest achievements of which they are inherently capable”, he said.

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