Tanzania allows students to go to school after childbirth | Education News

The government overturned the controversial 2017 policy formulated by the country’s late leader John Magufuli.

The Tanzanian government said it would allow teenage mothers to continue their studies after giving birth, reversing the criticized policies implemented by the late former President John Magufuli.

After Magufuli supported the expulsion of pregnant girls from public schools in 2017 and prevented them from returning to class after childbirth, human rights activists accused Tanzania of discrimination — a policy that dates back to 1961.

After Magufuli’s death earlier this year, his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan tried to get rid of some of his policies. On Wednesday, Education Minister Joyce Ndalichak said that “pregnant female students will be allowed to continue their formal education after giving birth”.

“I will make an announcement later today. There is no time to wait,” she said at a ceremony in the capital Dodoma.

Magufuli promised that no pregnant students would complete their studies under his supervision, saying that it is immoral for young girls to be sexually active.

“I give a student money for free study. Then, she becomes pregnant, gives birth, and then returns to school. No, it is not within my authorization,” he said in mid-2017.

This decision has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and international donors, who have cut funding to the country because of the policies of Magufuli.

At that time, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report saying that school officials in Tanzania were conducting pregnancy tests to expel pregnant students and deprive them of their right to education.

The World Bank froze US$300 million in loans for girls’ education to protest the ban.

The Swedish Embassy in Dar es Salaam welcomed the decision to lift the ban. The embassy also cut funding to Tanzania last year on the grounds of free reduction.

The embassy said on Twitter: “This is a welcome step for many girls, allowing them to realize their full potential.”

The opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) stated that their efforts to reverse the policy have paid off.

“We did it! A clear example of struggle, many fronts. Everyone involved contributed to this achievement,” said Zitto Kabwe, ACT Wazalendo leader.

Magufuli, who was skeptical of COVID, died of a heart attack on March 17 after a mysterious absence for three weeks. His political opponents insist that he has the coronavirus.

Within a few weeks after she was sworn in, his successor Hassan reached out to Tanzania’s political opposition, promising to defend democracy and fundamental freedoms, and to reopen the banned media.

But the hope that Hassan will usher in a new era was frustrated by the arrest of a high-profile opposition leader on terror charges and the suppression of independent newspapers.

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