October 17, 2017

"Not returning to school after childbirth will have a huge impact on the future of girls' education"

Many girls are told to stay away from school while they are pregnant

Petrider Paul

Global Youth Ambassador from Tanzania

Teenage mothers should be allowed to return to education after having their child, argues a Global Youth Ambassador from Tanzania.

President John P. Magufuli of Tanzania was wrong when he said that girls who get pregnant should stay away from school, even after giving birth. 

This means that a number of girls will remain uneducated and a recent report by Human Rights Watch shows that over 15,000 girls dropped out of school in 2015 due to pregnancy.

According to a report by Twaweza, 62% of Tanzanians want teen mothers to resume schooling after giving birth - and yet the government is turning a deaf ear to the majority voice. 

Most children in school are not receiving any sexual health education, especially in rural communities. 

Girls in primary and secondary school need sexual reproductive health information and education so they can make informed decisions and refrain from engaging in early sexual relationships. 

I want to tell the people of Tanzania, especially mothers who support the president’s ban, that not returning to school after childbirth will have a huge impact on the future of girls' education. 

Tanzania should follow the example of other countries and allow young mothers to return to school

Photo credit: UNICEF

It is already difficult for some girls to get to school due to lack of access or even violence en route. We need to remove barriers for girls accessing and remaining in school. 

In most other countries there is a government legislative policy that allows girls to resume schooling and Tanzania needs to follow this example. 

One good and nearby example is Zanzibar’s Spinsters and Single Parent Children Protection Act No 4 of 2005. This act ensures protection of the rights of education for both male and female students. 

It provides opportunities for those girl students who get pregnant during school attendance to continue with their studies after delivery. 

Section 4 (1&2) states that “where a girl is found to be pregnant while still at school she may immediately be suspended from school. The suspended girl may be reinstated to the school in the next academic year following her delivery or at anytime deemed most appropriate by the Educational Authority provided that suspension shall not exceed two academic years”.

The government of Tanzania needs to formulate a legal framework that would allow teenage mothers to resume schooling after giving birth.

Please join me to make a call for action and urge President John P. Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania to change his statement and #ProtectGirls. Sign the petition.

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