The Lagos State Government has been charged to review its policy which mandates parents to present Tax Clearance certificate before their children can be enrolled in Public Schools in the state.
The charge was made by Education Stakeholders at a forum on Tax Justice and Gender Responsive Services,organized by Human Development Initiative, HDI in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria. The Stakeholders comprises of Parents, Media Practitioners, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Tax Justice & Governance Platform, School Based Management Committee and Nigerian Union of Teachers, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, CSACEFA.
The stakeholders unanimously agreed that the payment of tax is a civic obligation by every eligible persons in the state including persons with disabilities, however, ensuring compliance should not infringe on the rights of any child to access education.
It was also stressed that the presentation of the tax clearance certificate before enrollment is one of the barriers to accessing education, especially for those whose parents cannot afford to pay tax genuinely.
While speaking, Mr. Celestine Okwudili, Governance Manager, ActionAid Nigeria said the actions of the government contradicts the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, the UBE Act and other existing laws and policies which promote access to inclusive basic education.
He said, granted the good intention of the Lagos State Government to widen its tax net to include the informal sector and generate more revenue to fund essential social services including the education sector, this efforts should not infringe on the rights of children to access free, quality, equitable and inclusive public education.
On his part, Mr. Felix Obanubi, a Representative of the Tax Justice Platform in Lagos explained that the platform is seeking to partner with Lagos State Internal Revenue Service to engage the informal sector and support initiatives that would increase voluntary tax compliance in the sector.
He also explained the need for the Lagos State Government to review its policies to ensure that children are not denied access to education while it is trying to generate more revenue.
The other stakeholders include representatives from the Lagos State Ministries of Education, Finance, Economic Planning and Budget, Office of the \Sustainable Development Goals and Investment.