from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – AFRICAN countries have been lauded for taking important steps to protect the right to education of pregnant students and adolescent mothers.
Over the past two years, at least five sub-Saharan African countries have either revoked restrictive or discriminatory policies or adopted laws or policies that allowed pregnant students and adolescent mothers to stay in school under certain conditions.
These are Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
At least 30 African Union (AU) countries now have laws, policies, or strategies to protect pregnant students and adolescent mothers’ right to education.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) welcomed the progress.
More African governments are taking stronger actions to support the rights of girls to education,” Elin Martinez, senior children’s rights researcher at HRW, said from Nairobi.
However, she mentioned many girls still had to fight against enormous government-imposed barriers denying them their right to education and made schools reject them when they most need support.
The COVID-19 pandemic is blamed for an increase in teenage pregnancies in many African countries.
This increase could be linked to prolonged school closures as all 54 African countries closed their schools in 2020.
Some countries such as Tanzania still adhere to policies that bar pregnant girls and teenage mothers from going to school.
The World Bank estimates that 5 500 pregnant students stop going to school every year in Tanzania.
Previous estimates indicated that close to 8 000 students have been forced to drop out of school yearly.
HRW has appealed to AU to press all African countries to adopt measures to revoke the expulsion of pregnant scholars.
– CAJ News