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Ignorance or ill-motives on pregnant school girls in Tanzania?

YET again, media outlets from the West have continued with the mudslinging campaign against the government of Tanzania through publication of articles full of blatant lies.

These articles are penned down by people who are either ignorant of Tanzanian affairs or just choose to be liars for the sake of saving the interests of their masters.

The latest round of such falsehoods comes from BBC News Africa with an article titled; “Five things Tanzania’s President ‘Bulldozer’ Magufuli has banned,” authored by one Athuman Mtulya. 

Among other lies contained in the article, the author claims that pregnant girls have been expelled from schools. Had he conducted a fair and balanced research, he would understand that Tanzania has in place special arrangement for girls who conceive while studying.

After delivering, the girls are allowed to continue with their studies under a different formal arrangement while the men found to have impregnated them are subjected to stern jail terms of up to 30 years in prison. 

Guidelines on enabling pregnant school girls to continue with studies after delivery were formulated by the Ministry of Education in 2009 through the Cross Cutting Issues Technical Working Group (CCITWG).

Some stakeholders in the education sector have however expressed concerns that re-admission of the teenage mothers into schools would increase sexual activity among students which will eventually worsen the situation.

It is also true that the government is alarmed at the rate in which the number of school girls who have been forced to terminate or being expelled from schools, just because of early marriages and/or pregnancies. 

The Education and Training Policy (ETP) of 1995 which is currently under review, among others things emphasizes on access and equality to quality education to all so as to have Tanzanians who are highly educated, knowledgeable, and skilled and culturally mature.

This is aimed at enabling them to handle national and international challenges in various political and social economic fields as well as empowering them to contribute in the growth of the national economy. 

Thus, the policy acknowledges, promotes and advocates deliberate moves which aim at assuring that girls are not denied the right of access to quality education. This is due to the fact that they are among the disadvantaged groups due to customary and cultural constraints and stereotypes.

Arrangements put in place by the government of Tanzania include the MEMKWA (Mpango wa Elimu Maalum kwa Watoto Waliokosa) programme, which reintegrate pupils, whether girls or boys, into formal education system but through a special arrangement. 

As most children had missed out on schooling in primary schools, the MEMKWA system was developed. This system consists of studying the material accredited centres and carrying out national exams to access primary and secondary schools. 

It is thus apparent that the author missed that point or chose to write lies for saving the interests of whoever is behind the mudsling campaign against the government of Tanzania and many other African countries. 

In spite of the efforts being taken by the government to ensure provision of quality education to girls, there are obstacles which hinder girls to fully benefit from these efforts. One of the obstacles is expulsion from school because of pregnancy. 

It is true that this situation greatly affects the girls themselves, borne babies, parents/guardians and the nation at large, since available statistics of 2008 show that about six per cent of girls in primary schools ended up being expelled from school due to pregnancy. Secondary school girls face similar plight. 

As such, MEMKWA and other provisions put in place by the government and education stakeholders aimed at ensuring re-entry of young mothers into the education system under a special arrangement.

The Primary Education Development Plan (I) 2002 - 2006, the Primary Guidelines on how to enable pregnant girls to continue with their studies as well as the Secondary Education Development Plan 2004 – 2009, stresses on gender equality and access to education.

President John Magufuli is on record for clearly stating that; “It would be against African norms and morals to mix up young mothers and other pupils who have not gone through pregnancy in the same class.”

As I am writing this, I am ...

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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