Tanzanian schools criticised for expelling pregnant girls, sexual abuse and corporal punishment
Human Rights Watch has criticised schools in Tanzania for widespread sexual abuse, corporal punishment and a policy for kicking out pregnant girls.
In a report, entitled “I had a Dream to Finish School”, HRW says that more than 40% of young people in the country are left out of lower-secondary education, which President Magufuli made free after coming into office. While the organisation pinpoints a number of serious concerns that are getting in the way of young people’s education.
Sexual abuse and discrimination
HRW finds that less than a third of girls who enter lower-secondary education go on to graduate. The report says that “many girls are exposed to widespread sexual harassment by teachers” and a number of schools fail to report incidences to the police.
The report also pinpoints bus drivers and other adults who pester girls for sex in exchange for gifts, money or rides on their way to school.
Marriage also poses a problem for many girls and young women in Tanzania. Government policy means girls are expelled for getting married or pregnant and regular pregnancy tests are standard procedure in most schools, according to the report.
Once girls are expelled, it’s difficult for them to get back into the education system due to a stigma against adolescent mothers.
Corporal punishment in secondary schools
The report also says that corporal punishment is “endemic” in Tanzania’s secondary schools. The practice is still legal in the country and HRW says many teachers routinely resort to physical and psychological abuse.
The organisation is calling on international donors to put more pressure on Tanzania’s government to address these and other concerns keeping young people out of school.
The report also cites funding issues, infrastructural challenges, student finances and quality of education as barriers to the country achieving its ambitious educational goals.
Featured image: By Ron Rieckenberg – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8633959