14 May 2017

Tanzania: Pregnant Schoolgirls for Second Chance

Photo: The Citizen
Schoolgirls (file photo).

Dodoma — Members of Parliament (MPs) debating the budget estimates for the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, have pushed the government to set a specific timeframe to allow a pregnant schoolgirl resume classes after delivery.

The Parliamentary Committee on Social Services and Community Development and the Opposition Camp pointed out the government was moving slow to enact a law enforcing the new developments. Presenting the Committee report on the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology budget for 2017/18 fiscal year, Mr Hussein Bashe (Nzega Urban-CCM) said the committee is aware that the ministry was working on a new circular to reintroduce the girls back to school but still no decision has been made.

"The committee advises that the government should make official announcement on the commencement of the execution of the circular so as to allow them back to school. That way, the country will achieve a great milestone in educating our girls," said Mr Bashe who is also committee member.

The committee noted that by reintroducing the girls back to education system the country would be ending the vicious cycle of poverty of having uneducated mothers who wouldn't properly steer their families in terms of education as well.

Shadow Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Ms Susan Lyimo, said when presenting her alternative budget speech that according to a 2016 Human Rights Watch report about 8,000 students in Tanzania are dropping their studies due to pregnancy.

She noted that already some of the neighbouring countries like Zambia, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia are giving the girls a second chance to education after delivery. Even in Zanzibar the re-entry system is allowed.

"In February, this year, the Deputy Minister for Education, Eng Stella Manyanya, assured the Parliament that the re-entry circular would be ready by March.

The Opposition Camp would like to know what happened to the circular and when would it be tabled in Parliament for the MPs to deliberate on it and possibly enact a legislation on it," she said. Debating the matter, Mr Japhet Hasunga (Vwawa-CCM) asked why was the government dragging its feet on the matter. "I don't understand why this issue takes time to be resolved. What is so hard about it?

These girls deserve a second chance to education, it is their right." Ms Margaret Sitta (Urambo-CCM) rallied her colleagues to ensure the government implements the circular. "We went to Kenya to learn about this issue.

They were shocked to hear that we're still locking out the girls. "We should bear in mind that it is only the girls who are coming from poor background who are suffering. The girls of the rich and even MPs will definitely go back to school no matter what."

Ms Cecilia Paresso (Special Seats-Chadema) called on all MPs to block the budget if the government will not give a concrete commitment. Earlier, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, on Saturday tabled in Parliament a Sh 1.36 trillion proposed budget estimates for the 2017/18 fiscal year.

According to Prof Ndalichako, 916bn/- or 68.6 per cent is earmarked for development projects and 419bn/- or 31.4 per cent is for recurrent expenditure. The proposed budget however is 4.2 per cent smaller than the current one (2016/17) which stands at 1.39 trn/-. However, it is the recurrent expenditures that has received the cuts, from 499bn/- (2016/17) to 419 bn/- (2017/18).

The proposed budget for development projects jumped from 897bn/- for 2016/17 to 916bn/- for 2017/18. It is also worth noting that as other Ministries have had a difficult financial year, the Ministry of Education of education by last month had received 629 bn/- or 70.2 per cent of the allocations for development funds.

The minister said the government in the next financial year plans to construct 2,000 classrooms for both primary and secondary schools across the country and renovate 17 old secondary schools.

It also plans to construct and renovate water and sanitation infrastructure including pit latrines in 1,000 primary schools and 200 secondary schools across the country.

Prof Ndalichako also told the Parliament that plans are afoot in the 2017/18 financial year to renovate six Teachers Colleges namely Kleruu, Mpwapwa, Dakawa, Tabora, Butimba and Marangu.


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