Five teenagers from the northern town of Tandahimba have been arrested for “wasting the government’s efforts to provide them with education by getting pregnant while still in school.”
District official, Mohammed Azizi, confirmed the arrests of the five girls, who were arrested alongside their parents’ and said that the move is part of the government’s effort to curb teenage pregnancies.
Authorities are said to be hunting down the men responsible for making the school girls pregnant.
In June last year, president John Magufuli outlawed the re-admission of teenage girls in primary schools who get pregnant back to school, saying encouraging such girls to go back to school will corrupt the morals of the rest of the students and encourage the vice.
“There are many things that the girls can do after delivery; they can join VETA (Vocational Education Training Authority centers) and learn sewing or farming,” Magufuli said at the time.
Tanzania’s education policies do not have provisions for girls who drop out of schools due to early pregnancies to resume studies and the civil society has been mounting pressure on the government to formulate a legal framework that would allow schoolgirls resume studies after giving birth.
High rates of teen pregnancy
Adolescent pregnancy is a worldwide problem. According to Unicef, about one in 20 girls in Tanzania have begun child-bearing when they are only 15 years old, and this rises sharply to one in four among 17-year-olds and more than one in three among 18-year-olds.
More than half of girls with no education are mothers or pregnant before they reach 19 years, compared with about 25 per cent of those who completed primary school and less than five per cent of girls who attended secondary school.