Female Tanzania President Reverse Law Preventing Teenage Nursing Mothers To Attend School

After the death of former Tanzania president John Magufuli nicknamed “The Bulldozer” earlier this year, who lost his life to covid19 after suggesting the virus has little or no effect in his province.

In 2017, a constitutional policy was in place that no nursing mother who is an underage should be allowed within the premises of educational facilities until they are through with the paternity period. The controversial law drew a lot of reaction from activists across the country and worldwide as people see it as an act to curb girls’ education.

In a latest press briefing, the new Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed that the government will use a delicate approach to ensure everyone gets the education they desire irrespective of their gender. Hence, the federal law that prevents teenage mothers from attending schools needs attention. “Although we don’t mean to undermine the decision of our predecessor, the aim is to ensure gender does not limit anyone from getting a quality education,” she said.

Sixty-one-year-old Samia Suluhu Hassan is a member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and the first female leader of Tanzania. She took the office of the president on 21 March 2021 after the death of ex-President Magufuli.

Before the announcement, Suluhu served as a minister during President Amani Karume’s administration and was appointed State Minister in the VP’s Office for Union Affairs between 2010 and 2015. In 2014, Samia Hassan gained appointment as the Constituent Assembly vice-chairperson, which is a sensitive role that determines amendment of the country’s constitution.

The policy of not allowing pregnant girls back at school dates as far back as 1961 and has drawn criticism from Human rights campaigners. The law states that pregnant girls must be exempted from school and not be allowed in the classroom after birth.

After the demise of Magufuli earlier this year, Samia made it clear that there will be an immense change in some of the government policies to ensure better governance for her people. Joyce Ndalichako, during a press briefing this week, said the new directive by the president would ensure that pregnant school girls can attend class and continue with their learning after delivery.

“I will send a circular before the end of the day; the new directive starts with immediate effect,” Joyce said at the capital city Dodoma.

Ex-leader Magufuli pledged that under his watch, sexually active young girls would not be allowed to finish their studies if they became pregnant. In his words, mid-2017, “If I sponsor a female child to school and she gets pregnant during learning, not on my watch will she return to the learning environment.”

The controversial policy made numerous international donors cut funding in Tanzania during Magufuli’s tenure. In addition, there were reports that school officials conduct pregnancy tests on female students and expel those that test positive. Human Rights Watch(HRW) published this report.

Statistics show more than 120,000 girls dropped out of school after the policy implementation, with 6,500 having children. In another report, the World Bank froze $300m meant for girls’ education to protest against segregated learning.

A World Bank representative responding to the new development said this new approach is a positive development that the government committed to supporting female education, which will promote economic stability.

Sweden also cut a considerable amount meant for Tanzania because of the lack of female education freedom. Sweden embassy Posted on Twitter saying the new step will enable girls to achieve their dream and unlock potential.

Opposition party leader Zitto Kabwe said, “Our struggle yielded positive results, everyone fought for this development, and we achieved it.”

7 Comments

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