For perambulating the streets of Asaba, Delta State capital during school hours, scores of children of school age were yesterday arrested by officials of the state government.
The truants, who were over 40, aged between eight and 14, were detained while their parents and guardians were told to show their school uniforms in order to re-unite them with their colleagues in the classrooms.
One of the erring children who carried jerrycans to source for petrol at a filling station was led by the officials to his home where his uncle who he lives with was forced to provide his school uniform.
The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Child Rights Advocacy, Mrs. Bridget Anyafulu, explained that schools resumed for the new term after the Yuletide holidays on Monday. Anyafulu lamented that attendance has been very poor on the part of the pupils.
She defended the action, saying the state government is simply implementing the provisions of the Child Rights Law by ensuring that children of school age, irrespective of social, economic and physical status, are in classrooms during school hours.
She insisted that every child is owned by the state government, and that they must be in school as early as 7:30a.m. while those found in the streets a minute past 8:00a.m. will be arrested.
Anyafulu maintained that education at the basic level is free and that the state government has provided schools, adding that parents and guardians who continue to restrain their children from attending school will be charged to the family court, in accordance with the provisions of Child Right Law.
“By 7:30a.m. they are supposed to be in the classrooms, and if anyone is found roaming or hawking a minute past 8:00a.m. they will be arrested while their parents will be taken to the family court. Parents have failed in their responsibility, hence government has taken over.
Schools have been provided, and no fee is charged in the schools. The duty of the child is simply to be in the classroom during school hours. If teachers are not teaching, they should report them to the authorities,” she added.
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