Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: We Say It Again - All Girls Must Go to School

EDUCATION is one of the most powerful tools to lift people out of poverty anywhere in the world, Tanzania being no exception. Education is also the principal means through which the poor and the marginalised can break the vicious cycle of poverty and participate in society.

It is an instrumental tool for economic growth. It is a fundamental human right. It is more so vital for girl children in particular and female members of societies in general to get access to education and excel. Such old beliefs -- warped at that -- that the woman's best place is the kitchen have no place in this era of advanced science and technology.

The philosophy that if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a girl child you have educated the whole family needs no emphasis. It is for this reason that our government, in all its phases, has left no stone unturned in its quest to improve education facilities and enhance quality at all levels with astounding success. The effort has included a special emphasis on deliberate campaigns to enrol all girls who have attained school-going age.

It has paid dividends. The ever-increasing number of women in higher decision making positions, including the Cabinet, is testimony to this. And don't we see more and more women occupying senior positions in the corporate world? This feat would not have been achieved had the government and parents not shown high resolve to cater and answer to the education call.

Yet it is saddening and annoying to note that despite such effort to enhance both quantity and quality in the provision of education, some parents have preferred to marry off their school-going girl children when a 'suitor' came calling.

President Jakaya Kikwete, on a tour of Lindi Regions, reportedly one of the 'problem' areas as far as such habit of forcing schoolgirls into marriage is concerned, has repeated his calls to parents to ensure their girl children go to school - and stay there.

We hate to say this but the real best place for parents who pull their unfortunate girl children out of school and hand them over for marriage out of greed for quick riches, thus contributing to more poverty is the prison.

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