Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Education policy to allow pregnant school girls to continue learning

Pregnant school girls who were being discontinued from learning in both public primary and secondary schools in the country after having given births, will now be required to continue with their learning as usual,  an official from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) has said. The ministry’s gender Coordinator Chimpaye Marango, said on Friday last week in Dar es Salaam that, this is a new change which has been introduced by the government with a view to save large number of girls’ dropouts in the country which is increasing at an alarming rate due to various reasons including early pregnancy being the leading cause. Marango was contributing to a debate at a breakfast meeting organized By the Policy Forum to discuss the subject titled, “Should pregnant girls return to school after giving births”? In her presentation she said that, the ministry has realised the need to allow such girls who in one way or another were seen to be poor and hence were not able to cope life after being suspended from continuing with their lessons after giving births. She said that, the ministry’s officials and the education stakeholders in the country determined the process to develop guidelines to implement the back to school component after delivery to the ETP policy programme. The long awaited education policy was being prepared by the ministry with a view to amend some  provisions in it so as it could bring a relief to some extent and at the same time to strengthen the education standards in the country, she noted. “It is a shame as the number of girls’ illiteracy was growing at an alarming rate in the country”, she said adding that in this way the stranded girls would get easy access of their life in future. Earlier Dr.  Rebecca Balira of the National Institute of the Medical Research (AMREF) said that pregnancy among school girls is a problem in most parts in the country. 

In her research study she conducted on behalf of the NIRM team and the Pamoja Tunaweza programme in the country in four purposely selected districts of Kilindi, Mkalama, Iringa rural and Same found out that, about 55,000 girls were expelled from schools between 2003 and 2011. However, she said that, the available official data suggest that rte problem is not big. In 2012 dropped cases in primary schools due to truancy were 52,086 which is about 75 percent. She further noted that, between 2007 and 2011 dropouts in secondary schools due to pregnancy decreased from 21 percent to 6.7 percent. According to her, the research carried out in 125 primary schools and 48 secondary schools located in 67 villages in Southern Highland regions in 2011, the study survey showed that 90 percent of the 101 girls dropped out were not refused to return to continue with their studies. One discussant to the topic, Paul Nyiti of the World Conservation Society noted that, the problem need to be addressed at grass root level up to the top. However, he said that, parents and government has to take serious actions in order to prevent the menace. Dr. Majaliwa Marwa said in his presentation titled, “Teenage pregnancies and provision among youth people in schools and out of school”, that, about 23 percent of young women aged between 15 and 19 have already began child bearing as most of them do not have education. He said teenage pregnancies may result for different reasons like customs and traditions that lead to early marriage, lack of education or information and access to basic health knowledge and sometimes due to poverty stricken situation. Contributing to a debate, Mariam Asha on the civil organization said that, there is a needed to introduce reproductive health education at a primary level teachings as this is one way which could make girls be aware of they are supposed to behave while in school. She said that, such lessons should be focused on the awareness of the diseases such as the education on HIV/AIDS infections, which though this awareness girls might be able to know what precautions should they have to undergo once they reach maturity stage.

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