Tanzania: 'Revisit Marriage Act to Allow Girl-Child Resume Studies'

THE government deserves praise for funding and promoting free education in the country that in turn has raised the number of children going to school as well as those vulnerable and living with disabilities.

Making the revelation in Dar es Salaam during the International Day of the Girl Child on Wednesday, HakiElimu Executive Director John Kalage further said as they strive to help to transform education, in and out of schools and influence policy making and effective implementation, it is high time the government also revisited some policies, which block the girl-child from fully realising her dream.

"A case study of Tanzania's Marriage Act of 1971 that sets the minimum marriage age for girls to be 15 with parental consent and 18 for boys, I suggest it should be repealed.

Though the government allows any girl-child who drops out of school to go for alternative studies in colleges like Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) for further studies, why not allow her to continue with studies in primary and secondary School if it is her choice?" he posed.

Equally, Mr Kalage, who is also the Chairman of Tanzania Education Network (TEN/MET) noted that HakiElimu will continue advocating for the government to develop and implement evidence-based policies, which promote accessibility, equity, and inclusive education in a friendly and protective environment for all children, regardless of one's sex and physical disability.

In response, the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, presiding over the event, said the government will address any policy and cultures, which still block the girl-child from realizing her education dreams.

"Tanzania is proud of the first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who is delivering and a good role model to the girl-child that if a girl-child is educated and barriers on her way are removed, her future is bright," she pointed out amid applause from the participants.

Thanking the British Council, Save the Children, CAMFED, Accountability in Tanzania Programme (AcT), the British High Commission and UK aid from the British people for supporting the country's education sector and organising the event with the theme-'Digital Generation, Our Generation', she said the government will play its role to see into it that all children are in school.

"With the theme of 'Digital Generation, Our Generation' that reminds the society on the right of digital technology to both girls and boys, the government will not leave any group behind, be marginalized... students living with disabilities and girls because of their sex," she added.

To successfully enroll more children in school - especially girls and children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the government has been getting support also from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), for instance in January last year, when it was approved a grant totaling 112 million US dollars.

Shedding light on the support, the British High Commissioner David Concar said: "This year's theme - Digital Generation, Our Generation- is a reflection of the increased demand for technology as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"And in light with that the UK has additional £55 million (about 172.9bn/-) to support Tanzania's education sector, besides an already released £400 allocated for girl's education this year (2021/2022) and this affirms the UK's ambition to get more girls to school, improve the quality of pre-primary, primary and non-formal education by strengthening teacher-training and professional development, distributing more quality teaching and learning materials to underserved areas and improving education planning and management."

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