World Bank scraps $300m education loan to Tanzania over school ban on pregnant girls
The money was due to help improve the school system in a country where thousands of girls expecting a baby have been expelled.
A $300 million loan to help Tanzania improve its education system has been scrapped after the country refused to change its policy of banning pregnant girls from school.
The World Bank confirmed it has scrapped a plan to lend the money – and that the expulsion of pregnant girls was one of the reasons. The loan was due to be part of a $500 million funding package awarded last year.
Tanzania is one of several African countries that still ban pregnant girls and young mothers from government schools.
President John Magufuli said last year that female students who become mothers would “never” be allowed back in school – reaffirming a ban dating back to the 1960s.
Then in June he also said girls who gave birth would not be allowed back into school.
More than 55,000 Tanzanian schoolgirls were expelled from school over a decade for being pregnant, the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a report in 2013.
A World Bank official told Reuters news agency that another factor in the decision to scrap the loan was Tanzania making it a crime to question official government statistics.
An official statement yesterday said: “The World Bank supports policies that encourage girls’ education and make it possible for young women to stay in school until they reach their full potential.
“Working with other partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate for girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government.”
The Tanzanian government has not commented on the withdrawal of the loan.
Meanwhile, Tanzania’s second-biggest donor Denmark said yesterday it would withhold $10 million worth of aid money. It cited concerns over human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” made by a government official who announced an anti-gay crackdown in the capital Dar es Salaam.