Tanzanians oppose state on teen mums — report

DAR ES SALAAM. – The recent statement made by President John Magufuli on the government’s stand on teenage mothers’ return to school is contrary to what most Tanzanians want, The Citizen has learnt.

According to a Twaweza 2016 report dubbed “Reality Check: Citizens’ views on education in a fee free era”, 62 per cent of the citizens prefer that girls be allowed to resume school after giving birth. Only 21 per cent want girls to be expelled and not allowed back to school. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.

The findings are based on data collected from 1,806 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) between August 7 and 14, 2016.

While critics have campaigned against this policy on the basis that expelling teenage mother from schools punishes them and exacerbates the already poor state of girls’ education in Tanzania, President John Magufuli has made it clear that during his reign, no impregnated school girl will be allowed back to school after giving birth.

He went on further to accuse non-governmental organisations, which have been urging the government to permit teen mothers to re-enter the education system, of being used by foreign agents for their own agenda.

In the Twaweza survey, another seven per cent want legal action to be taken against those who impregnate girls, another seven per cent want girls to be allowed to continue with their studies while still pregnant and two per cent want girls to be allowed to continue with their studies, but in another school. A report by Human Rights Watch says about 8,000 girls who drop out of school every year due to pregnancy.

“This should persuade the government to reconsider its position about this issue given its commitment to improve girls’ education. This is particularly important now given the increasing trend in school dropouts. The Uwezo assessment report indicates that the school dropout rate for 2014 was 18 per cent,” Twaweza’s report concludes. – The Citizen.

June 2017
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