In its efforts to reach its peak, HELP Foundation, an advocacy group for sustainable transformation of higher education in Nigeria and West Africa, has on Wednesday 9th of December 2020 sent a memo to the Constitution Review Committee of the Federal House of Representatives headed by Rt. Hon. Ahmed Wase.
The caption of the bill bears “A BILL FOR AN ACT TO DECLARE AND PROTECT THE RIGHTS AND SAFETY OF STUDENTS IN HIGHER INSTITUTIONS OF LEARNING, PROMOTE CAMPUS ETHICS, AND OTHER MATTERS INCIDENTAL THERETO, 2020.”
The memo, which was signed by the founders of HELP Foundation, contained proposals on the amendment of section four of the nation’s 1999 constitution, alongside the adoption of the foundation students’ bill; Student Bill of Rights (SBOR). This is a bill created mainly to cater for moral and standard higher education for the students in all services.
The memo reads: “We are pleased to announce to the student community, relevant stakeholders and the general public that the foundation on Wednesday 9th of December 2020, submitted a memo to the Constitution Review Committee of the Federal House of Representatives headed by Rt. Hon. Ahmed Wase.”
Stating the message incorporated in the proposal, the memo recommends “alteration of the fourth section of the 1999 Nigeria’s Constitution to reflect an accessible, inclusive and quality education as a fundamental human right for all citizens of Nigeria. And, adoption of the Nigeria Student Bill of Rights (SBOR) as a means of ensuring quality higher education services delivery to all Nigerians.”
Speaking on the importance of memorandum sent to the National Assembly, Mr Olympus Adebanjo, one of the founders, said that the memo will help in creating a good atmosphere for the citizens in their right to education.
“The Memorandum was submitted to the Constitution Review Committee of the House of Representatives to take advantage of the constitution review process in our agenda to ensure that the right to a quality, inclusive and accessible education is made a fundamental human right for all Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, the memo also calls the attention of the government, at all levels, to make education an ultimate priority in the country.
“This idea will not only enforce the legitimacy of the demands of the Student Bill of Rights but will impact all the levels of education in the country. In the end, the goal is to ensure that governments at all levels change their attitude to education from show of goodwill to actually fulfilling fundamental demands of the constitution,” he said.
In furtherance of the advocacy, the foundation has embarked on a legislative consultation to Hon. Bamidele Salam representing Ede-North Federal Constituency who is also a member of the House Committee in Tertiary Institutions and TETFund.
“In our meeting, after the presentation of the state of our higher education system and the prospects of the SBOR to start the process of reform, the Honorable lamented the situation of higher education in the country and showed dedicated belief and support for the Nigeria Student Bill of Rights as proposed by HELP Foundation for Students,” said Olympus.
He also noted that the foundation will continue its legislative and civil consultations with appropriate individuals and bodies in the country.
“Further consultations are ongoing with the legislative team and other stakeholders including legislators, civil society organizations, relevant government agencies, international organizations especially the UNESCO that has played huge roles in the advocacy for education reforms in Nigeria,” he summarised.
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