Burundi reverses school ban for pregnant girls, expectant fathers

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Burundi has reversed a policy banning pregnant girls and expectant fathers from school, a month after introducing the controversial bill.

Burundi’s education ministry revoked the policy on Friday following a backlash from rights groups who labelled the ban as regressive and unfair against young girls in the country. However, the ministry hasn’t given any official reason for the reversal in its statement or acknowledged the criticism it received over the ban.

Burundi reverses school ban

Burundi’s Minister of Education Janvière Ndirahisha ordered the ban across all public and private primary and secondary schools in the country, in a letter dated June 26. The order stated that all pregnant girls and male pupils identified as expectant fathers should be banned from attending school.

However, rights groups around the world criticised the country’s government over the move, insisting it infringed upon the education rights of young people and unfairly targetted girls.

According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), about 11 percent of girls aged 15-19 are sexually active in Burundi while seven percent have had at least one child in the same age bracket. Campaigners say many girls are shamed for becoming pregnant while incidences of rape are also worryingly common.

Rights groups have welcomed the reversal of Burundi’s school ban but they’re urging the government to do more to protect young girls in the country and reduce youth pregnancies through education and prosecuting those guilty of sexual exploitation.

Featured image: By Bernd Weisbrod – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11682338

 

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.