Tanzania To Allow Students To Return To School After Giving Birth
The Tanzanian government has resolved to reverse the controversial 2017 policy instituted by the country’s former autocratic leader, the late John Magufuli. According to Al Jazeera News, the Tanzanian government has said it will allow teenage mothers to continue with their studies after giving birth.
Human rights campaigners have been accusing Tanzania of discrimination after Magufuli in 2017 endorsed the policy to expel pregnant girls and block their return to school even after giving birth. However, the tide turned after Magufuli’s death earlier this year, with his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan seeking to break away from some of his policies.
On Wednesday, Tanzania’s Education Minister Joyce Ndalichako said:
"The government has decided that all students who drop out of school for various reasons will be given an opportunity to return to school.
"This opportunity involves all girls who got pregnant while studying in primary and secondary schools. These students will be allowed to continue with studies in formal education systems after giving birth.
"I will issue a circular later today. No time to wait," she said at a ceremony in the capital, Dodoma.
Magufuli had pledged zero tolerance against students who fell pregnant before finishing their studies as he considered it immoral for young girls to be sexually active.
"I give money for a student to study for free. And then, she gets pregnant, gives birth and after that, returns to school. No, not under my mandate," he said in 2017.
The decision didn’t sit well with human rights groups and international donors, who withdrew their funding to the country in response to the policy. World Bank froze a $300m loan for girls’ education in protest and more than 120,000 girls drop out of school annually in Tanzania, with 6,500 due to pregnancy.
"This important decision underscores the country’s commitment to support girls and young women and improve their chances at receiving a better education," the World Bank said in a statement later on Wednesday.
Sweden, which had also cut its funding to Tanzania last year in protest to the policy, hailed the Tanzanian government for "allowing girls to unlock their full potential".
"This is a welcome step for many girls, allowing them to unlock their full potential,” the Swedish embassy in Dar es Salaam said on Twitter.
Opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) celebrated the reversal of the decision.
"We did it! A clear example of one struggle, many fronts. Everyone who was involved did something towards this achievement," said ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe.
However, some activitists are still skeptical of Wednesday’s announcement.
"To be clear, let us wait (for) details from the government notice on the matter," Rebeca Gyumi, a renowned Tanzanian girls rights activist, said on Twitter.
Magufuli, nicknamed the "Bulldozer" for his uncompromising autocratic leadership style, and also a COVID-sceptic, died of a heart condition on March 17 after a mysterious three-week absence but his political opponents insists that he succumbed to Covid-19.
Source Al Jazeera News