No state school­ing for preg­nant pupils

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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