17 February 2019

Tanzania: 'Boys Lead in School Dropout'

Photo: Daily News
(file photo).

While society believes that girls lead in school dropouts, the government has said the situation on the ground is different.

This was said by Deputy Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Ave Maria Semakafu (pictured), when closing a two-day meeting of the end of Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Girl Inspire project in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

"We often get a wrong impression. It is true that education opportunities for girls may be hard to access, but when we look at statistics we note that there are more boy dropouts than girl dropouts," she noted.

Enrolment statistics also show that often in primary schools most girls are enrolled than boys. According to her, statistics obtained in 2016/17 revealed that boy dropouts were 49,000, while girl dropouts were 38,000.

"However, the ministry has laid more emphasis on girls because most of the time they are the victims of infrastructural challenges, including travelling long distances to school," she commented.

Dr Semakafu added that: "Another challenge facing girls is biological.

Once a girl misses four to five days of school per month for three to four months, they start lagging behind, which affects their confidence and may lead them to leave school."

According to her, girl dropouts are more challenging than boy dropouts because the majority of girls end up being impregnated and even forced to marry at early age. "When you walk down the streets you will find girls suffering most after school dropout.

Boys normally end up engaging themselves in economic activities in sectors like mining, fishing, cashew nut farming and the like, which help them earn a living," said the deputy PS.

She noted that there was a need to include children with special needs because they were often forgotten in development projects.

"Most of us talk about girls, early pregnancy, outmoded traditions and forget that children with special needs are most needy as they are already stigmatised from their childhood," she explained.

Dr Semakafu also reiterated the government's directive to all schools to have user-friendly infrastructure to accommodate children with special needs. "The government cannot wait them to fail so that we start picking them up.

There is a need do something about it and ensure they got help," she commented. Earlier, COL Girl Inspire president, Prof Asha Kanwar, said they were committed to ensuring all girls got an education opportunity and bright future and were free from early marriage and pregnancy.

"The project has been successful as it has slightly exceeded the goal of touching the lives of 3,000 girls, with 12 centres in the three regions of Lindi, Dodoma and Rukwa," she said.

For the project to be sustainable she challenged government and religious leaders not to threaten communities rather educate and raise public awareness. "A business as usual approach will not work for this.

It needs creative and innovative ideas that are realistic and implementable."

Tanzania was among the five regions that participated in the project, including India, Bangladesh, Mozambique and Pakistan and four more partners in the Commonwealth are expected to join the project.

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