Childs Right To Education And Freedom Of Religion: Two Constitutional Rights At Odds With Each Other In A Secular State – Ewere ESQ


In the modern concept of rights which is quite different from philosophy, human rights today are those rules contained in instruments like International Bill of Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other Regional Human Right instruments like the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

The concept of human rights is closely linked to the modern state, and refers to the relationship between the individual and the State.

The Rights Of A Child To Education In Nigeria:

The Human Rights Chapter of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) (Chapter 4) does not expressly provide for the rights of the child to education.

However the chapter on socio-economic rights (Chapter II) does.The Child Rights Act 2003, came to the rescue.

The Child Rights Act 2003 primarily as contained in Section 15(1) (2) and (3) has Sections 3, 5, and 6 as the exception which still falls short of the extant provisions of the enforcement of the Childs’ Rights.

Section 38(1-3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guarantees the freedom of religion for a child.
Of note is the fact that the Child Rights Act 2003 is in tandem with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

The Child Rights Act cannot be more valid than the Constitution. It only accentuates the Constitution.

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Is Nigeria truly a  Secular State?

The word ‘secularism’ is derived from a latin word ‘saeculo’ which an English scholar traced to mean a state of no religion.

From the historical concept of secular state, Nigeria cannot claim to be a secular state with its tacit support of two major religions in the country.

For example, government’s support of pilgrimages, allowing persons to hold prayers in public offices, observance of public holidays, etc.  of the two major religions to the exclusion of others as contrary to the provisions of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution(as amended).

Constitutional rights as enshrined in Section 38(1-3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on the right to freedom of religion which copiously made reference to the educational aspect of religious worship of Nigerian citizen, puts the two constitutional rights as complimentarily important rights to every Nigerian child rather than being at odds with each other in a secular state like Nigeria.

Nigeria acknowledges religion and has provisions for any religion.
Under the 1999 Constitution everyone has a right to apply to the Court if aggrieved.

Every Nigerian has the right to subscribe to any religion of his or her choice provided such religion and its instruments will not contravene the provisions of the Constitution.

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At what point does a child have the right to choose any particular religion?

Under the Child Rights Act 2003, a child is defined to be between the ages of 1- 17 years. A child from a Christian/Muslim background must follow the religion of his parents, he cannot choose.

The problem arises in cross-marriages where the child begins to choose either of the religions of the parents.
A child finds it difficult to make a decision until attainment of majority. However, the law allows the child to change his/her religion but is it practicable?

Nigeria is not a secular state though it was designed to be so by Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution.
The paradox, like the child’s rights to freedom of religion and education if you try to separate them then where are the missionary schools?
Nigerians should make the best use of our diversities and differences.

Should religion occupy public space at the expense of national development?

Section 45(1) places restriction on the right to practice certain religious rites as enshrined in section 37 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution.
The practice of the use of hijab is religious and should be kept in the private space and not public space in view of the security threat.


  1. We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.

    • I just think d part when u said where are d missionary schools is important but I feel one should also note that in as much as d missionary schools is not common in our country hasn’t stop d promotion of the Christian religion in d sense that CRK OR CRS as some school will call it is still one of d Compulsory subject in schools and as even gone beyond d shores of Nigeria to b noted in WAEC which is applicable to all West Africa States and even d global village.. So d absents of the missionary schools hasn’t negate religious spreading ..

      2ndly, d issue of d hijab should b kept in private places due to d security threat d nation is going tru is one I tend to disagree with u on dat in d sense Dat the Hijab is one of d regalia for d Muslims ladies n if u saying d constitution gives one d right to religion and u still saying it should b restrict d wearing of one of d religion regalia in public is a fallacy

      I will like to also note here Dat if u saying d Muslim ladies should wear d hijab in private, U should also consider that d Reverend Sisters from the Christian faith should also do away with their also due to d security threat or what is d name of d one they put on to cover their hair????

      Th hijab is mostly meant to b wore in public cause d Muslims believe the beauty of a woman should b showcased to her husband in private only dats y they put on d hijab in public n this issue has been flogged extensively by courts of higher power in our land like In Lagos where the Muslim association took a certain organisation to court for restricting d students put on their hijab n d court ruled that its should b allowed in public not in private n even in Ogun state

      If u saying the security of d nation is been tried, I feel the best approach Is for d personnel to do d one on one check which they have been doing n d security of d nation is now better Dan before.

      U hear of shooting in d USA, bombing in Paris…. Was any other is attacks carried by pipo putting on hijab????

  2. very clever observation learned one but i will let to draw your attention to the fact that law, morals and religion are three separate entities that should never be merged or used in exchange of another.there for in our so acclaimed practice of secularism we should sever all and use them appropriately.

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