THIS week the government came up with good news to parents, students and of course, the whole nation when it announced that teen mothers who had been stopped from returning to classes will now be allowed back to school.
The government announcement was made mid this week by Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako in Dodoma when she recounted the achievements the country has so recorded in the past 60 years ahead of the country’s 60th independence anniversary.
According to the government, the new policy will also ap- ply to students once stopped from classes due to truancy and family problems.
Showing how important President Samia’s decision is to girls, some Non-governmental organisations and international entities have hailed the decision, cognisant of the fact that hundreds of girls have so far dropped out of school due to pregnancy.
On Friday, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation ( SDC) and the World Bank praised President Samia for her decision, which will now revive the hopes of teen mothers.
Globally, an estimated 15 per cent of young women give birth before age 18. Early childbearing, or pregnancy and delivery during adolescence, can derail girls’ otherwise healthy development into adulthood and have negative impacts on their education, livelihoods and health.
Many girls who are pregnant are pressured or forced to drop out of school, which can impact their educational and employment prospects and opportunities.
Early pregnancy and childbearing can also have social consequences for girls, including reduced status in the home and community, stigmatisation, rejection and violence by family members, peers and partners, and early and forced marriage.
The prevalence of adolescent pregnancy in sub-Saharan African countries is high. Understanding the predictors of first adolescent pregnancy can facilitate the development of effective social policies.
UNFPA, about five years ago, said Tanzania had the 17th highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa.
The adolescent fertility rate increased from 116 to 132 between the 2010 and 2015/16. Teenage pregnancy also increased by four per cent in Tanzania since 2010; by 2016 one in four adolescents aged 15-19 had begun childbearing.
The decision by President Samia on teen mothers must be supported by the general public simply because locking them out of formal education will thwart efforts in fighting poverty.
While we support President Samia on the decision she made strategies must be crafted to fight adolescent pregnancy.
Family planning and comprehensive sex and relationship education can help ensure healthy lives and promotion of well-being for adolescents and their families and communities.