MBEYA: 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 later, after President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted ban that prohibit 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 allowed students who dropped out of school due to truancy and other family problems to return to school.
Commenting on the status of the re-entry policy for secondary school students during an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily 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 has reached approximately 230 in the region.
“Since President Samia’s announcement to lift the ban which prohibited teenage mothers from returning to school and the re-entry guidelines of 2022 issued 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 two secondary schools (Sinde and LEGICO) found in the regions revealed that a total of 56 teen mothers have benefited from the president’s announcement by returning to school.
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, and some of them are facing difficulties due to lack of support from the family level.
Coupled with that, Mr Msemwa encouraged parents and guardians across the country to actively cooperate with teachers in upbringing of children in order to protect them from temptations that cause the students to drop out of school.
“Parents need to cooperate with teachers in upbringing the children in order to prevent them from dropping out of school. The move will automatically mitigate the rate of dropouts,” he emphasised.
Adding: “Parents need to encourage their children to return to school instead of being angry of mistakes done by their children,” he said.
For her part, the Academic Officer for Mbeya City Council, 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, while stressing that for them to become pregnant is not the criteria to be independent as they got pregnant at younger age.