Rate of schoolgirl pregnancies shocks JPM

08Oct 2019
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Rate of schoolgirl pregnancies shocks JPM

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday expressed his shock over the high rates of pregnancies for school girls in Rukwa Region where more than 200 girls became pregnant in 2018 alone, directing security organs and social welfare groups to come up with a proper strategy to address the situation.

Speaking at a rally at Sumbawanga, the president said it was shameful to see Rukwa on top of the list of regions with the highest number of school girls who were impregnated, where it last year alone had 229 girls becoming pregnant.

“I call upon religious leaders and local authorities to take time out and sensitize surrounding communities on the matter, otherwise efforts to educate these girls will be in vain,” he said.

 The mentioned number was only for girls that were reported, in which case the actual number might be higher than this, he said.

In 2017, President Magufuli announced that secondary school students who get pregnant will not be allowed back to school after giving birth. That would not happen under his leadership, he had famously declared.

The move sparked reactions from various NGOs in empowerment for girls drive, saying it was tantamount to shattering their dreams.

Discussion on the ban exposed how the subject was divisive  and the gap that women and rights organizations needed to cover to bridge the gender sensitivity gap.

Data shows that 69,067 primary and secondary school girls dropped from school for reasons like pregnancy, absenteeism, deaths and other challenges in 2017.

In February 2016, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training issued guidelines on how to enable pregnant schoolgirls resume their studies.

The move was part of efforts to implement the Education and Training Policy (ETP) of 2014, which emphasised access and equity to quality education for all.

Chapter three of the guidelines, made a provision that affected girls would be accorded one re-entry opportunity per school cycle and will be required to resume schooling within the year.

The guidelines allow that a young mother will have the choice to go back to the same or another school and be free to choose formal or non-formal learning. Zanzibar has also an elaborate policy on the matter.

President Magufuli launched a 35bn/- water project for Sumbawanga town funded by the European Union (EU) and the government of Germany through KfW development bank.

In his remarks EU, the Acting Head of Delegation Charles Stuart said about 51.26 million euros has been set aside for water development in various towns and cities in the country.