No state schooling for pregnant pupils
NAIROBI: Tanzanian President John Magufuli rejected activists’ calls for the government to allow pregnant students to attend state schools, saying it was immoral for young girls to be sexually active.
Tanzania’s ban on pregnant girls attending state primary and secondary schools dates back to 1961, when the country secured its independence from Britain, though it does not extend to private schools.
Activists have stepped up calls in recent years for the ban to be scrapped, saying expelled teenagers face widespread stigma, the possibility of being forced into early marriage and the challenge of providing for themselves and their babies.
Tanzanian politicians are divided on the issue, but Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for pushing his policies through, reaffirmed the existing policy during a public rally on Thursday in the town of Bagamoyo.
“In my administration, as long as I am president… no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school. We can’t allow immoral behaviour to permeate primary and secondary schools,” he said.
Magufuli ordered police to arrest and prosecute men who impregnate students, saying convicted offenders could get 30 years in jail under the country’s sexual offences laws.
“Non-governmental organisations campaigning for pregnant girls to be allowed to continue with their studies at government schools should open private schools and enrol teenage mothers,” he said.
More than 55 000 Tanzanian schoolgirls were expelled from school over the last decade for being pregnant, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) said in a report in 2013.
Wealthier families are able to send daughters to private schools but the majority end up looking for casual work. – Reuters
We can’t allow immoral behaviour