MORE than 200 students in Mbeya City Council who dropped out of school due to various reasons, including truancy and pregnancy have benefited from the re-entry policy issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 2022.
The re-entry policy came a year after President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted the ban that prohibited pregnant girls from returning to school after childbirth.
Besides giving the teen mothers a second chance to return to school two years after giving birth, the policy also allows students who dropped out of school due to truancy and other family problems to return to classrooms.
Commenting on the status of the re-entry policy for secondary school students during an exclusive interview with the ‘Sunday News’ yesterday, Acting Education Officer for Mbeya City Council, Mr Job Msemwa said since the re-entry guidelines were formulated in 2022, the number of students who returned to school reached approximately 230 in the region.
“Since President Samia’s announcement to lift the ban which prohibited teenage mothers from returning to school and issuance of the re-entry guidelines of 2022 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of students has reached about 230,” Mr Msemwa underlined.
According to National Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania (BEST) in 2020, at the secondary level, a total of 57,544 boys dropped out of school and 55,940 girls were reported to have cut short their studies for various reasons, including absenteeism, pregnancy, early marriages and other environmental factors such as extreme poverty.
In particular, Mr Msemwa highlighted three means by which the city uses to transfer knowledge to the returned students, including through formal and alternative pathways.
“For the students who returned to school, their education provision falls under various systems of education, including formal and alternative pathways such as the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Programme (SEQUIP) and adult education,” he pointed out.
A survey conducted in only two secondary schools (Sinde and LEGICO) in the regions revealed that a total of 56 teen mothers had benefited from the President’s announcement by returning to schools.
Moreover, he said despite the existence of various education systems, there are still many challenges facing re-entry students, especially those who dropped out of school due to pregnancy, including lack of support from their families.
Coupled with that, Mr Msemwa encouraged parents and guardians across the country to actively cooperate with teachers in upbringing of children to protect them from temptations that cause the students to drop out of school.
“Parents need to cooperate with teachers in the upbringing of children in order to prevent them from dropping out of school. The partnership will automatically mitigate the rate of dropouts,” he emphasised.
Adding: “Parents need to encourage their children to return to school instead of being angered by the mistakes they committed,” he said.
For her part, Mbeya City Council Academic Officer, Ms Joyce Kaguo advised parents and guardians to continue helping their children (teen mothers who returned to school) so that they can fulfil their life dreams, stressing that them becoming pregnant doesn’t make them independent as they got pregnant at a younger age.