In the past, Tanzania's pregnant girls of school-going age were banned from accessing an education. However, things are about to change!
If a young girl of school-going age happened to fall pregnant in Tanzania, it usually spelled the end of her schooling career — and the death of any prospects she may have had for a bright future. In Tanzania currently, an estimated 5 500 girls are forced to leave school each year due to pregnancy, according to the World Bank.
The Tanzanian government has announced a new programme aimed at addressing the plight of young girls who have been impacted by this discriminatory ban. Tanzania's Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Leonard Akwilapo said young girls will now be offered an opportunity to further their schooling at alternative colleges.
The plan, he explained, was to offer all secondary school dropouts a chance to continue with their education. "We are offering an alternative path to education to all children who missed their education for any reason, including those girls who got pregnant while in school, through our Folk Development Colleges (FDCs)," said Akwilapo.
These 54 alternative colleges are expected to start working by the end of the year. A staggering 49 million girls are out of primary and secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa — with 31 million of them out of secondary education, undermining their rights and limiting their opportunities," reports Human Rights Watch.
Without an education, a girl's future prospects are limited. Tanzania currently has one of the highest incidences of teenage pregnancy with the United Nations estimating that about 27% of girls aged 15 to 19 are pregnant.
However, under the tenure of the country's new leader President Samia Suluhu Hassan, things are slowly changing. President Hassan took over the reins following the passing of President John Magufuli in March.
Unlike the former President who was a COVID-19 denialist, Hassan is actively promoting awareness of the virus and encouraging civilians to protect themselves. She has also requested COVID-19 vaccines from Covax, the global vaccine programme.