Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
Relief as Tanzania lifts ban on pregnant students
Minister of Education Prof Joyce Ndalichako announced on Wednesday that the government was finally lifting a ban previously imposed on girls who get pregnant while at school that prevented them from continuing with studies in government-funded schools.
The announcement will be music in the ears of gender and human rights activists who since 2017 when the late President John Magufuli imposed the ban have been pressuring the government to lift it, noting that it was hurting girls more than it was helping them.
“I’ll today [November 24, 2021], issue a document highlighting when exactly should a student who drops from school because of pregnancy and other factors return to school,” Prof Ndalichako was quoted as saying. She was speaking in the capital Dodoma on a forum to improve Tanzania’s education. “I’ll do that today. There is no sleeping.”
Tanzania’s Education Act, and its education expulsion regulations of 2002, permit expulsion when a student has “committed an offence against morality” or if a student has “entered into wedlock.” Although the regulations are not explicit about pregnancy, ministry officials and school officials interpret pregnancy as constituting an offence against morality.
While the regulations have been in place since 2002, their enforcement has been lax with less expulsion on grounds of pregnancy taking place in many schools across Tanzania Mainland. But that changed in 2017, when Mr Magufuli, who died on March 17, 2021, said he does not want to see pregnant girls continuing studies at public schools.
“As long as I’m president, no pregnant students will be allowed to return to school,” President Magufuli gave the directive on June 22, 2017. He would repeat the words oftentimes in future. “The warranty to go to school be it secondary or primary is forbidden.”
Following the directive, school administrators started undertaking mandatory pregnancy testing for students and those found pregnant were immediately dismissed from schools. Many criticised the arrangement, calling it humiliating to students who are taken through the process without their consent.
Other students just decided not to go on with their studies upon learning that they were pregnant because they knew the country’s education system would not take them in.
In 2020, the Magufuli Administration announced that it would allow students who were pregnant or were mothers to enrol in a parallel-accelerated education program, described as “alternative education pathways” under a World Bank-funded Tanzania’s Secondary Education Quality Improvement Program (SEQUIP) project.
Activists, however, criticised the arrangement, saying it was not only expensive but also students often have to travel long distances to the centres. According to Human Rights Watch, for example: “This perpetuates the same financial and access barriers that many girls face in secondary schools. Many centres don’t offer additional support for adolescent mothers, including child care.”
“My heartfelt congratulations to all who campaigned for this,” Zitto Kabwe, ACT-Wazalendo party leader and one of the loudest voices in the movement against the ban on pregnant girls, said in a Twitter post following Prof Ndalichako’s announcement. “All activists stood firm [on this] during a very tough time.”
Kids’ edutainment Ubongo wins 2021 Rotman Innovation of the Year Award
Africa’s leading producer of kids’ edutainment Ubongo on Wednesday won Rotman Innovation of the Year Award, a statement released yesterday stated.
The not-for-profit social enterprise based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania won the award for its transformative innovation of offering evidence-based programming that improves developmental outcomes for children, while using broadcast technology to reach a wide breadth of children across Sub-Saharan Africa, according to organizers.
Ubongo, which creates fun, localised and multi-platform educational content that helps kids learn, took home a total of 10,000 Canadian dollars, which is the equivalent of Sh19 million.
Founded in 2013, exploit the power of entertainment, the reach of mass media, and the interactivity of mobile devices in delivering effective, localized learning to African families at a low cost and massive scale.
“We are so honoured to receive this award,” said Ubongo co-founder and CEO Nisha Ligon in a statement. “[Grand Challenges Canada] CCC’s support over the past three years has enabled us to expand our reach into many new markets and languages to reach millions of more kids.”
CCC is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that invests in local innovations that address critical global health, humanitarian and Indigenous community challenges in Canada and low-resource countries. It is the organizer of the Rotman Innovation of the Year Award
Created in honour of the late Joseph Rotman, Founding Chair of Grand Challenges Canada, and his family, the award honours innovation that has had the largest sustainable increase in lives saved or lives improved over the past year.
Grand Challenges Canada Co-CEO Jocelyn Mackie further said that Ubongo brought a science-backed early childhood development model into homes of children.
“Many of whom otherwise don’t have access to quality education, through fun, localised and multi-platform educational content, to date, we have proudly financed Ubongo for a total of 1 million Canadian dollars under our Saving Brains program,” she added.
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