President John Pombe Magufuli probably didn’t see it coming when he uttered the unfortunate words that are likely to seal the fate for many girls all over Tanzania. On 22n June 2017, while addressing the public at Bagamoyo District, he said that all pregnant school girls from primary schools to secondary schools should not continue their education at all meaning that once you get pregnant it was an end to your education.
”They are many things that girls who are impregnated can do after delivery, they can join VETA ( Vocational Educational Training Authority centers), they can learn sewing but they cannot go back to school” – said President J.P Magufuli.
The outrage came in thick and fast all over East Africa and the world with Kenya leading the pack with a Twitter hashtag #StopMagufuli. While some saw it saw it as the case of people wailing louder than the bereaved, we saw it as an injustice that needed to be stopped immediately.
Here are some of the online reactions,
”I feel President Magufuli is not only reneging on a fundamental human right but is killing the dreams and aspirations of young girls in that nation.Acquiring a pregnancy is not a terminal illness and neither can it be contagious. We must also consider the fact that some of the girls may have become pregnant owing to heinous sexual violations or compromising family set-ups that expose them to early pregnancies. TUPE JAWABU RAIS!!.”
”Has the President considered that his own female kin could fall into the same predicament? LET OUR GIRLS ACCESS EDUCATION, PREGNANT OR NOT!! The President, s he rises in power needs to uplift those young girls! It is his sworn mandate to do so,” said Dan Mathews in an emotional Facebook post.
It was not long before reactions from other parts of the world came in given the immediate nature of the internet. Right now there is an online petition that will be presented to Dr. Magufuli, a move that will hopefully make him rescind his decision. The online petition titled President John .P.Magufuli Let Pregnant Students complete their education has so far attracted 1953 people drawn from all over the world.Only 547 signatures are needed to get the required 2500.
Have you signed the petition? If not, here are some reasons that should make you sign it and let the president know how his decision could affect the lives of many young girls.
1.Education may not guarantee everybody the best life has to offer but it will give you a fighting chance for a career and also go to the next level.
2.The President argued that if such girls were to be allowed back to school, they would encourage other girls to engage in sex. This is not necessarily true because they might just use the opportunity to warn other students of pre-marital sex because they will have learnt their lesson.
- If these girls are not allowed to go back to school they will most likely get married to older men who might mistreat them and take advantage of their ages. Besides, marriage has its own dynamics that teenage mothers do not understand or are not equipped to handle leading to very miserable lives.
- Self-actualization is among the Maslow hierarchy of needs for any human being to be completely fulfilled. It is important that all human beings have a chance to live through all the stages of their lives which are very important for their self-actualization and if they miss one then it creates unfortunate scenarios.
- The president has also forgotten that it takes two to tango and his decree is punishing one side and many people are asking what about the boys and men who are impregnating girls left, right and centre. What is being done to them? It seems that they just get away with a slap on the wrist. If they are allowed in class and given a second chance then I don’t see why the girls should also not be allowed back in school.
- He also made a blanket statement about all teen mothers but what about those who got the pregnancies through rape? Wouldn’t this be a double punishment for them?
- Punishing the girls because of pregnancies, in my opinion, is treating the symptom rather than the cause of the problem which may be lack of adequate sex education in the country. It might also be adult men taking advantage of young girls and they should be punished by the law to discourage other men. Poverty could also be another reason why the girls are engaging in pre-marital sex and it needs to be addressed to prevent such incidents where they have to use their bodies to get basic needs.
- Tanzania RATIFIED the MaputoProtocol in 2007 & CEDAW in 1986 and in both documents it is provided that ALL Girls have a RIGHT to Education.
- In Kenya we say that kuvunjika kwa mwiko si mwisho wa kupika ugali that means in the course of life we might fall off the wagon once or twice but that does not mean that that is our end. As human beings we know this, as parents we know this as well.
10. Pregnant girls face a lot of stigma at home and in school, sending them out of school is just adding salt to injury. School may be a welcome distraction for them and they may want to use the opportunity to show their parents and teachers how sorry they are at the turn of events. Those of us that had children out of wedlock know how bad it feels to let our parents down.
President Magufuli if you are a parent and if you are listening, kindly rescind your decision.