from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – TANZANIAN authorities have been urged to adopt policies to protect students who are pregnant or are mothers.
This is after the country lifted a ban on such students.
Tanzania’s has pledged to adopt guidelines to ensure that schools ensure adolescent mothers can return to schools by June 2022.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Accountability Counsel hailed the move as a milestone but are advocating for robust policies to support this pledge.
“The authorities should now expedite the adoption of robust rights-compliant guidelines and include in both its law and its policy protections for students who are pregnant or are mothers,” said Elin Martinez, senior children’s rights researcher at HRW.
Last November, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology published a circular that states that pregnancy and motherhood are not grounds for expulsion from government schools.
On March 8, the Tanzanian government and the World Bank published their agreement to restructure Tanzania’s Secondary Education Quality Improvement Program (SEQUIP), financed by a US$500 million loan from the World Bank.
This is to adopt new measures to effectively end a school ban against students who are pregnant or are mothers.
The restructure agreement specifies how long pregnant girls are allowed to remain in school before taking a leave of absence to give birth and how soon after giving birth a student is allowed to return.
The government has also pledged to forbid “involuntary pregnancy testing.”
“It is imperative for the government to ensure that all engagement channels are effectively functioning,” Teresa Mutua, senior communities associate at Accountability Counsel, said.
The previous ban had disastrous consequences.
The World Bank estimates that 6 500 pregnant students stop going to school every year.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have previously estimated that close to 8 000 students have been forced to drop out yearly.
In power since March 2021, Samia Suluhu Hassan is the third female head of government in Tanzania.
– CAJ News