TANZANIAN government, national and international organisations have vowed to jointly spearhead quality education of adolescent girls in conducive environment.
Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu launched a nationwide campaign against child pregnancies here yesterday, ordering creation of special desks for defence and security of children at all schools.
Addressing an International Day of the Girl Child at Tarime Teachers’ College, Ms Mwalimu issued a six-month ultimatum to schools to establish the special desks, with one or two teachers picked to attend to child concerns at each school.
“Six months from today I want to see the desks established at all schools to cater for the children …by desks, I don’t mean buildings or Stakeholders team up for girl education offices, but teachers capable of handling issues like gender violence or any other affecting children in their studies.
We can have up to two teachers handling these desks and children should be informed of whom to consult in case of need,” said Ms Mwalimu amid applause from children and stakeholders who thronged the college’s grounds.
The minister said after picking the teachers, the government will train them on how to man the desks. Ms Mwalimu, launching the campaign against child pregnancies and early marriages, challenged the young girls have full understanding of themselves, first.
“It has to start with you, the children ... understand yourself and vow never to be wooed by crooks out there to cut short your educational dreams and success in life. Instead, make education your top priority,” said the minister.
She urged parents, guardians and teachers as well as girl children, education stakeholders and the community to take care of the adolescents, reaffirming the government support. She directed all school heads to report to their respective district education officers every three months of status of pregnancies at their schools, even if no girl has conceived.
The district councils in turn will notify the ministry through regional hierarchies. The Minister said stern action will be taken against people impregnating, marrying or marrying off school girls as well as government officials who will not adhere to the Education Act 2016 that provides for actions to guide the girl child.
She pledged full support to organisations working for the welfare of the girl child. Among those present at the ceremony were UN officials, World Education Inc, which execute the United States Agency for Development (USAID) supported ‘Waache Wasome’ project in collaboration with Tanzanian government towards increased adolescent girls’ enrolment and retention in secondary schools.
In another development, the government, religious and traditional leaders in Mara Region have vowed to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and ensure girls are at school. In events preceding the climax of the International Day of the Girl Child, the leaders pledged to raise awareness in remote rural areas and empower women engaged in FGM to switch to other economic activities.
While Tarime District Commissioner (DC) Glorious Luoga said over 60 ngaribas have quit the job, the World Education Inc Country Director, Ms Lilian Badi who met some of them at Nyamuhonda and Sirari villages on the border with Kenya, said her organisation will liaise with partners on the ngaribas’ future.
Secretary of Tarime District Kurya Clans Mwita Nyasibirwa and his Vice-Chairman Mwikwabe Makabe, said they have ordered stoppage of the ‘cut’ to enable girls attend schools.
Tarime District Sheikh Abdulhakim Sudi and African Inland Church’s Rev Joseph Mangwija, said they will work closely with the government and traditional elders to attain the goals for girl education.