Girls dropping out of school because of pregnancy and various other reasons are uncertain about ever living their education dreams in East Africa’s largest country Tanzania.
Arguments and counter arguments are ongoing in East Africa’s second largest economy on whether the Tanzanian government will actually allow teenage mothers and school dropouts back to school.
In October 2015 after John Pombe Magufuli won the elections, he declared that his government would not allow teenage mothers back into mainstream education. This prompted the World Bank to withhold an education loan of $300 million to Tanzania, demanding the country change its policy.
However, on Monday April 6, his government released a statement saying he had approved the Secondary, Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQUIP) on March 20, making a u-turn to his pre-election stance.
His government said it was concerned some statements and discussions are going around and sometimes creating confusion about the project.
The Ministry of Education Science and Technology, said SEQUIP is worth $500 million and has been financed by the World Bank to improve access and quality of Secondary education in Tanzania.
“Our target is to reach more than 6.5 million secondary school students across the country without discrimination and shall include girls who drop out of school for various reasons, including pregnancy,” government said in a communiqué signed by Education Minister Prof. Joyce Ndalichako.
Prof. Ndalichako said government is committed to ensuring that school dropouts continue with their education as prescribed in the project.
“We also want to make it clear that children who pass the national examinations will be provided with the same opportunity to continue with their education in public schools, colleges and universities regardless of education institutions they attended,” she said.
Fatma Karume a social commentator wonders why the government defaulted on the ruling party CCM manifesto which clearly included provision of education to school dropouts.
“As a matter of curiosity are we now supposed to trust that Tanzania will provide pregnant girls with equal opportunity to education? I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you! You reneged on the CCM party manifesto en mass without shame,” Karume said.
In comparison, opposition political party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), which leads an alliance known as Ukawa, or Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution) has a different view on education.
Chadema considers adopting the tenets of economic liberalism and as such cites private schools, universities, as the solution to Tanzania’s challenges on education.