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SERAP petitions UN over insurance levy in federal schools



THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written a petition to the United Nation (UN) to prevail on the Nigerian government to immediately withdraw what it described as “exploitative insurance scheme” imposed on students of the Federal Government Colleges.

   The petition dated Wednesday and signed by the Group Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, states that the scheme initiated by the Federal Government for Unity Colleges in the country, on the excuse of protecting the students against attack and other forms of violence by Boko Haram insurgency, is considered “ 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,” he said.

   He said it will amount to restricting indigent Nigerians who may not be able to meet up with the financial obligation, noting that “ rather than expanding public educational opportunities for all Nigerian children especially children from poor families, the government is restricting them, and commercializing education.”

   The petition copied to the UN Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, Kishore Singh Special Rapporteurs on the Right to education, Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

   Expatiating on the concern of the group, Mumuni explained that “the government’s policy is asking 125, 000 pupils in the 104 Federal Government Colleges to pay a mandatory insurance premium of N5, 000 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.”

   The Federal Government had said the serious security challenge in the country had impacted on the students and teachers in the Unity Colleges, got NICON Insurance to insure the students for an annual premium of N5, 000.

   SERAP therefore, appealed to the UN to compel the government to “Immediately and unconditionally withdraw the mandatory insurance scheme for students in Federal Unity Colleges throughout the country, return any premium that may have been paid. Make every effort to ensure that school children are fully protected throughout Nigeria, to ensure that the Boko Haram and any other extremist groups do not restrict the ability of Nigerian children to realize their human rights and pursue their dreams.”

 Among other conditions mentioned in the petition are that the “UN should ensure that resources for providing quality education to Nigerian children are not diverted and directed towards military expenditure, Publicly support and commit to the right of all children to attend school in all parts of Nigeria without fear of violence or attack and without being forced to take a mandatory insurance scheme. 

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