Kudos for Tanzanian government as pupils dropping out of school following pregnancy and childbirth will now be facilitated to resume studies in the formal school system, the government has declared.

Prof Joyce Ndalichako, the Education, Science and Technology minister made this observation when addressing a press conference on achievements in the sector during the 60 years of independence.

The government will provide better ways on how students who dropped out of school especially for pregnancy and childbirth will go back to school, an initiative targeting primary and secondary school girls as well. They will be allowed to continue their studies in the formal system after giving birth, the minister affirmed.

“This will also involve students who are found cheating in the primary school leaving examination and their results being canceled,” she stated, citing another group of targeted students as those who fail exams or who experience problems during examinations.

They will be given the chance to repeat exams the following year where NECTA (the National Examinations Council of Tanzania) will issue the procedure for re-sitting such exams, she stated.

Students who pass the re-examination will similarly be eligible for selection to continue with secondary education in public schools, she elaborated.

The policy recalibration has taken into account that Form Four and Form Six candidates whose results are canceled and those who experience problems need to be given an opportunity to repeat those exams, the minister underlined.

Given the situation, the government has seen the need to give a second place to primary school leavers as is the case with secondary school students, she stated, noting that this measure involves rectifying provisions of the law passed in 2002 and reinforced in 2017, barring pregnant pupils from being part of regular schooling.

This policy has been observed for most of the time since independence, as pregnancy has usually being held as a deterrent against mischief among pupils. Schoolgirls were often subjected to mandatory pregnancy tests and studies stopped if pregnant.

Local and international non-governmental organizations have been at pains to bring the government to rectify these rules and President Samia Suluhu Hassan faced huge pressure in her visits to the United Nations system for image building and policy assurance for stakeholders at the global level.

Bringing the change for girls as part of wider consideration for those whose dreams were dashed for one reason or another is seen by observers as justified, not as a special consideration for those becoming pregnant, and not pursuing a vendetta against their inclusion either.

Meanwhile the law on sending to court men who impregnate schoolgirls remains in place and if convicted they serve lengthy jail terms but critics often say the law.

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