Tanzania: ban on studying for teenage mothers lifted

Tanzania: ban on studying for teenage mothers lifted
Tanzania: ban on studying for teenage mothers lifted

Other countries : Tanzania announced on Wednesday its decision to allow pregnant students and teenage mothers to continue their education, sweeping aside a much-criticized ban put in place by its late autocratic leader, John Magufuli.

In 2017, the East African country began expelling pregnant girls from state schools and barring them from returning to school after giving birth, a move criticized by human rights activists who called to the repeal of the law.

After Magufuli’s death this year, Samia Suluhu Hassan who succeeded him as head of state sought to break with some of the policies pursued by the autocrat.

Education Minister Joyce Ndalichako said on Wednesday that “pregnant schoolgirls will be allowed to continue their education after childbirth.”

“I will issue a circular later today. There is no time to waste,” she said at a ceremony in the capital Dodoma.

Magufuli had vowed that no student who became pregnant would complete their studies under her tenure, saying it was immoral for young girls to be sexually active.

>>> READ ALSO: Tanzania: the president announces the exclusion of any pregnant student from school

“I give money for a student to study for free. And then she gets pregnant, gives birth and after that, goes back to school. No, not under my mandate,” he said in 2017.

The move was widely criticized by human rights groups and international donors, who cut funding to the country in response to Magufuli’s policies.

At the time, Human Rights Watch published a report in which the NGO said school officials in Tanzania were performing pregnancy tests with a view to expelling pregnant students.

The World Bank had frozen a loan of 300 million dollars (265 million euros) for girls’ education to protest against this ban.

“The World Bank welcomes the announcement of the Tanzanian government on the lifting of barriers to access education,” the organization reacted on Wednesday.

>>> READ ALSO: Sierra Leone: the school ban for pregnant girls will be lifted after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic

The opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) welcomed its successful efforts: “We have succeeded! A clear example of a struggle on many fronts,” said the party leader Zitto Kabwe.

President from 2015, nicknamed the “Bulldozzer” for his strong leadership, John Magufuli, 61, officially died on March 18 of heart problems. But his main opponent says the leader, who has consistently downplayed the impact of the coronavirus and refused to take action to stem the pandemic, died of Covid-19.

In succeeding John Magufuli, the new president has significantly revised the policies of the late president, pledging to defend democracy and fundamental freedoms, and to re-allow banned media.

But the arrest at the end of July of the leader of the main opposition party Freeman Mbowe, denounced by associations for the defense of rights and Western countries, qualified this rupture. Mbowe is currently on trial for “terrorism”.

 
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