Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

The government is reversing controversial 2017 policies put in place by the country’s late leader, John Magufuli.

The Tanzanian government has said it will allow teenage mothers to continue their studies after giving birth, reversing a heavily criticized policy implemented by the late former president John Magufuli.

Human rights activists have accused Tanzania of discrimination after Magufuli endorsed the suspension of pregnant girls from public schools in 2017 and their prevention of returning to class after birth – a policy dating back to 1961.

After Magufuli’s death earlier this year, his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan tried to break away from some of his policies. Education Minister Joyce Ndalichako said on Wednesday that “pregnant schoolgirls will be allowed to continue formal education after giving birth”.

“I will issue a circular later today. No time to wait, ”she said during a ceremony in the capital, Dodoma.

Magufuli promised that no student who becomes pregnant will complete their studies under his supervision, saying it is immoral for young girls to be sexually active.

“I give money to a student to study for free. And then she gets pregnant, gives birth and then goes back to school. No, not under my mandate, ”he said in mid-2017.

The decision has been widely criticized by human rights groups and international donors, who have cut their money to the country in response to Magufuli’s policies.

At the time, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report stating that school officials in Tanzania were conducting pregnancy tests to expel pregnant students, depriving them of their right to education.

World Bank has frozen a $ 300 million loan for girls’ education in protest of the ban.

The decision to lift the ban was welcomed by the Swedish embassy in Dar es Salaam, which also cut its funding to Tanzania last year, citing shrinking freedoms.

“This is a welcome step for many girls, enabling them to unlock their full potential,” the embassy said on Twitter.

Opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) said their attempt to reverse the policy had paid off.

“We did it! A clear example of one battle, many fronts. Everyone involved did something for this achievement,” said Zitto Kabwe, leader of ACT Wazalendo.

Magufuli, a COVID skeptic, died of a heart condition on March 17 after a mysterious three-week absence. His political opponents insisted he had coronavirus.

In the weeks following her swearing-in, her successor Hassan reached out to Tanzania’s political opposition, promising to defend democracy and basic freedoms, and reopen banned media outlets.

But hopes that Hassan would usher in a new era were shattered by the arrest of a high-profile opposition leader on terrorism charges and the suppression of independent newspapers.

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