9 February 2017

Tanzania: Critical Reprieve for Pregnant Schoolgirls If...

Dodoma — The government is currently pushing a draft legislation which, if approved, could allow pregnant girls to remain in schools, the National Assembly heard yesterday.

On mainland Tanzania, when a girl gets pregnant her parents are called in, before she gets flushed out of class; the offending partner is then taken to court where he faces up to 30 years in prison. Zanzibar provides such leeway now, allowing the girls school after childbirth.

But Deputy Minister for Education Science, Technology and Vocational Training Engineer Stella Manyanya told the national assembly Wednesday draft is ready, only that it needs to be approved by all relevant stakeholders.

In a heated debate in the Parliament floor, the deputy minister maintained the government stand that a pending legislation does not allow the victim gain admission into school, so there's still need for a corrective approach to review the legislation.

"All stakeholders including parliamentarians must come together. Its hard but that's the legislation which was approved by this same house ... the school girls will be readmitted in classes but those responsible will face the law," she said, in response to supplementary question by former education minister and Urambo MP Ms Magreth Sitta (CCM).

The MP had questioned government insistence on keeping girls away from school when several other countries, such as Zambia (and Union partners Zanzibar), had okayed a reprieve.

However, Eng Manyanya said the matter was still undergoing due consultations among key stakeholders. Even then, she had earlier said in response to a question by Special Seats MP Zaynab Vullu (CCM) that the Education and Vocational Training Policy 2014 advocates for inclusive education.

"The policy has clearly outlined the need to eliminate all barriers hindering a student from continuing with classes. The policy also promotes equity on access to education," she said. She insisted the draft guidelines could be adopted by different stakeholders, among others, parents, teachers, religious leaders and the community - all in the interest of Eng Manyanya Ms Sitta the girl child.

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