Burundi reverses school ban for pregnant girls, expectant fathers
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