Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege which can be taken away at someone’s whim. These rights are there for our protection against people who might want to harm us. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace. Following the atrocities and enormous loss of life during the WWar II, the Universal declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in a resolution of the general assembly of the United Nations on the 10th of December 1948 as the “common statement of achievement for all peoples in all nations” in respect for human rights. The declaration lists 30 rights under articles – civil, political, economic, social and cultural to which people everywhere is entitled to. As much as these 30 articles are needed in every human society, article 26 which gives all “the right to education” is perhaps the most critical in my society
My country, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the tenth largest country by population in the world. Nigeria harbors about 20% of the total African population. In this and other respects, it is arguably the most important country on the continent and also a country whose most valuable resource is its human resource. For the past few years Nigeria has faced a lot of social problems which has affected the security of her citizens, first was the rampant kidnap of oil workers and destruction of oil installations in the Oil rich South-South geopolitical zone by Niger- Delta militants majority of who were youths who resorted to criminality as a means of making their voice heard by the government. No sooner had the Niger Delta been addressed at least to some extent through the Amnesty Programme that the issue of Kidnapping for ransom began in the South East region by youths as a means of making a living. Of late, the challenge has become the destruction of lives and properties by the Boko Haram sect who claim to be against western education and have in the past months carried out wanton destruction of several lives and properties including churches, police stations and the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria through bomb blasts and armed attacks. In all three cases highlighted above, the youths involved in these activities have something in common, they all have not enjoyed the liberation and exposure which comes through education and their actions are largely due to ignorance and indoctrination from wrong sources of education.
The proper exercise of education as a fundamental human right is therefore imperative for the growth and development of our society especially the present security challenges because education will help Nigeria to manage its most valuable resources through human capital development which is a way of fulfilling the potential of the people by enlarging their capabilities and this necessarily implies empowerment of people, enabling them to participate actively in their own development to enhance their skills, knowledge, productivity and inventiveness as well as equipping them to be able to make informed choices about their lives and their future. Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan captures the overwhelming need for education for development in these words; “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society in every familiarity.”
Education produces citizens of good character. “The function of education is to teach on how to think intensively and to think critically…intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education’’ Martin Luther King Jnr. The curriculum of the school, the extracurricular activities and the informal relationships amongst students and teachers communicate social skills and values. Through various activities a school impacts value such as co-operation or atmospheric obedience, fair play. Education aims at reformation of attitudes wrongly developed by children. For some reasons the child may have absorbed a host of attitude, disbelief and loyalties these can be reformed through education. It is the function of education to see that unfounded beliefs, illogical prejudices and unreasoned loyalties are removed from the child’s mind.
Katrina Tomasevski, former United Nations special rapporteur on the right of education points out that “there is a large number of human right problems, which cannot be solved unless the right of education is addressed as the key to unlock other human rights. Where education is guaranteed it operates as multiplier, enhancing the enjoyment of all other human rights and freedom but where it is violated or denied it deprives people of enjoyment of many rights and freedom” it provides a means through which all people become aware of their rights and responsibilities which is an essential tool for achieving the goals of the Declaration of the Universal Human right. In this and other respect I opine that education is the cornerstone of every other Human right and if well exercised in my society our current challenges would be a thing of the past.