Finally, a new law has been put into effect in Tanzania that will allow the education of one of the most important segments of society, mothers. Previously, when a student at any stage of schooling became pregnant, she would be expelled and any hope of a further education all but erased. The only way she could get back to school was through back-door channels, often involving bribes and cover-ups or private school. Therefore, the only ones who could take advantage of such a system were those whose families could afford it.
The new law will allow young mothers to return to their schooling after they have given birth. While students in countries like the U.S. can attend school even while pregnant, this law does not allow for that, but does give them some chance in the future. How many new mothers will take advantage of this is another question. First, they have had a long gap of several months in their education. Second, once they have given birth, care must be provided for the child. If there is no cooperation on the part of the mother’s family, going back to school will not even be an option, as she must now provide for her child. All the same, at least the option is now available where it once was not. After all, to educate a woman is to educate a nation. If the mothers are not educated, where will their children end up?
(full article here in The Citizen)
IPP Media: Giving up on school to get married
Too many girls, especially in the South of Tanzania are forced to leave school, due to pregnancy. In Tanzania, the law requires pregnant girls to leave school, although there has been much debate in Parliament about changing the law so they may return after giving birth. Of course, most times the girls are not in a position to return to school, as they have the new responsibilities of childcare to deal with.
The article focuses particularly on the impact of traditional initiation rites that, it claims, lead to more girls getting married at a young age or getting pregnant. There are a few good points made in the article.
First, there is definitely a correlation between teen pregnancies and local drum circles, which many teens attend at night.
Second, the practice of bride prices in Tanzania does sometimes lead parents to try to marry off their daughters too early in order to receive some income.
Third, there is often too much focus by parents on initiation rites. While I think it is great to keep traditions alive, parents will often spend most of their cash earnings for the year on the ceremonies surrounding initiations, while forsaking the school fees and other supplies needed for their children’s education. It is not unusual to hear of a parent who has “mortgaged” their house in order to get cash for the ngoma
rites are an important part of tribal culture, and many parts of the country have given them up completely. They should, however, be conducted in such a way that will still allow the children to get the education they deserve.