30 March 2017

Tanzania: Same District Leads in Student Pregnancies - Officer Says

DESPITE constant government officials' war against early pregnancies in schools, Same District has not done much to address the situation in comparison to the recent past.

The observation was reached with latest data that about 40 Secondary School students in the district have fallen pregnant in January and February this year, with March statistics yet to be disclosed soon. Same District Council Vice- Chairman, Mr Yusto Mapande expressed his concern at the situation, saying the number is big and wondered why it has reached that height.

He said they have done a lot of public awareness campaigns especially to the girls, but the number has not scaled down. Mr Mapande, who is also Msindo Ward Councilor, said the situation has forced them to conduct regular pregnancy tests once schools are opened after holidays, and repeat it once they are in the course of their studies. He said they are doing the exercise in line with the directive of Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Saidi Meck Sadiki, adding that it spreads into all the districts within the region.

"By February this year, about 38 students were found to be expecting babies while in schools and that is why we are continuing with the same in March, and we do not know what the situation will be like by the end of the year. It is really alarming," the Councillor stressed.

However, he hinted that majority of the ones who fall pregnant are always the very students who are academically poor in their class work and spend most of their valuable times in social life. He said later on they become psychologically affected once they realise that they are also pregnant.

Mr Mapande in another development, appealed to parents and guardians of students in the schools, particularly girls to spend time with them and educate them on dangers of early pregnancies and marriages. He said the parents should also enlighten the students on consequences of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as well as complications which arise during deliveries.

"With such pregnancies, it goes without saying that academic dreams of these students become shuttered and partly parents and guardians are to be blamed," he added.

Same District Commissioner (DC), Ms Rosemary Senyamule admitted that her district really faces the challenge, saying that between 2016 and this time, about 97 students have interrupted their studies because of early pregnancies.

She pointed out that many of them are truants who are not attending their classes regularly, adding that some are highly indiscipline students who are in wrong age groups as friends. She said teachers should not be blamed because they can not manage them alone, and partly blamed their parents and guardians for the weakness.

However, Same District Education Officer (Secondary), Ms Happiness Laiser attributed the situation to cases where the students are left to walk long distances to and from school, to the extent that some have to cover about 10 kilometres daily and become 'waylaid' by men.

She said to address the situation, the district has put in place some strategies including motivating the residents to participate in building them hostels in the schools, besides creating more awareness on having sex with students as being illegal.

Records from Kilimanjaro Regional Education Office show that in 2016, about 225 students failed to continue with studies as a result of being pregnant. Rombo and Same led with 63 cases respectively. Mwanga had 29 cases, Moshi Urban 21, Hai 26 and Moshi Rural District 14.

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