Group Drags Nigerian Govt To UN Over Student Compulsory Insurance SchemeLatest News, News Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an urgent appeal to four UN Special Rapporteurs and the Special Envoy on Global Education over the imposition of compulsory insurance scheme for students of the Federal Government Colleges.
The organization is asking them to use their good offices and positions to urgently request the Nigerian government to immediately and unconditionally withdraw exploitative insurance scheme imposed on the students on the excuse of protection against attack and violence by Boko Haram.
Those petitioned are: Mr. Kishore Singh, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Mr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Mr. Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, and Mr Gordon Brown, Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
In the urgent appeal dated 24 February, 2015 and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that it considered this insurance scheme to constitute an abusive practice and renouncement of the obligation by the government to provide education as a public good.
“The insurance scheme also flies into face of prohibited grounds of discrimination and amounts to exploitation of the students and parents involved, and a shocking attack on the right of access to education.
“Rather than expanding public educational opportunities for all Nigerian children especially children from poor families, the government is restricting them, and commercialising education. In its response to the Boko Haram, the government has not prioritised the right of children to quality education. Many Nigerian children are driven to Cameroon as refugees and made to recite Cameroon national anthem as a precondition for attending school,” SERAP said.
“Imposing a mandatory insurance scheme on students and their parents will also not contribute to better security for the children. Inequalities in opportunities for education will be exacerbated if this insurance scheme is allowed to continue. The government is simply failing in its international human rights obligation to ensure the right to education in a safe and protected environment,” it added.
According to the organization, “Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party the government has legal obligation to outlaw discrimination in education based on “social origin”, “economic condition”, or “property”.
SERAP also said that Nigerian children have the right to safety in school establishments that are conducive to a positive learning environment, saying that the right to education as a matter of access and quality means that all children have a right to access school and be provided with quality education regardless of the circumstances they live under.
The organization expressed “serious concern about the government’s policy asking 125,000 pupils in the 104 Federal Government Colleges to pay a mandatory insurance premium of N5000 per annum to cover supposed risks against violence and attack by the Boko Haram insurgency. The measure is expected to generate N625 million for NICON Insurance Plc, which the government chose to underwrite the ‘risk’.”
“SERAP is in possession of a circular to this effect which was sent to the schools. According to the circular, “In view of the current security challenges in the country which has impacted seriously on the safety of our students and teachers in Federal Unity Colleges, the Ministry of Education has decided to engage the services of NICON Insurance Company to insure our students. To this end, an Insurance Premium of N5000 (Five Thousand Naira Only) is to be paid once in a year. Students are hereby expected to pay the above amount through the college upon resumption for third term,” it stated.
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