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No, Samia Hasn’t Reversed Magufuli’s Policy on Teen Mothers

Samia’s Administration still maintains that teen mothers will have to depend on alternative pathways to proceed with their education.

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Dar es Salaam. The news circulating on social media, particularly Twitter, that President Samia Suluhu Hassan has reversed her predecessor’s policy on teen mothers by allowing the girls to go back to state-funded schools is fake, The Chanzo confirms.

Several people reported on their Twitter timelines on Tuesday that President Samia has allowed teenage girls who get pregnant while at schools to continue with their education, reversing the late John Magufuli’s policy which prevented them from doing so.

The Chanzo understands that many of those who circulated the story online, which include journalists based outside of Tanzania, used this BBC Swahili story as a reference point.

In the story, a BBC Swahili reporter interviews the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Dr Leonard Akwilapo about his recent directive to Folks Development Colleges (FDCs), asking them to have strategies in place that would enable students who drop out of schools for various reasons, including pregnancy, are provided with alternative pathways to proceed with their education.

FDCs include vocational training centres, adult education institutions and colleges established for the purpose of contributing to the social and economic development of the nation as well as local communities.

But nowhere in the story, Dr Akwilapo hints at the policy change as far as the government’s position on teen mothers and education is concerned.

“We have been talking about [the question of teen mothers] since last year [2020] and we will continue talking about it [by pointing out] that due to [the government of Tanzania’s] procedures, [the government] is planning to bring [teen mothers] back to the education system through [FDCs],” said Dr Akwilapo during the audio interview. “We are creating alternative pathways that will enable [teen mothers] to go back to school.”

Responding to the question if people now can expect teen mothers to go back to state-funded schools and proceed with their education, Dr Akwilapo responded: “[If] it is going back to the [FDCs] centres that we have established and continue to establish [the answer is yes]. Because you have to remember that the step [the government] is taking goes hand in hand with our agreement with the World Bank in relation to the education project it currently funds that requires the government to provide teen mothers with alternative pathways to education.”

The $500-million “Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project” aiming at strengthening government-run schools, while “establishing stronger educational pathways for students who leave the formal school system,” was approved by the World Bank board of executive directors in April 2020 despite protests from activists that wanted it scraped on the basis that the government was discriminating teen mothers.

“Taking the teen mother back to the very school she studied [before getting pregancy] will be a problem even to herself and I do not think if [we extend that opportunity to teen mothers] they will be willing to do so based on our traditions as Tanzanians,” Dr Akwilapo emphasised. “So it is better to provide them with alternative ways through which they can go back to the formal educational system.”

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