A few days ago, Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli made a statement that raised controversy. He said that if girls or Primary and Secondary school level get pregnant, that should be the end of school for them. They should go to vocational training institutes and learn trades such as sewing instead of going back to school after delivery. According to President J P Magufuli, their presence in schools will encourage other girls to engage in sex.
There are so many sides to the coin of a pregnant school girl. Let’s start with the basic, it takes two to tango. That’s right, a baby is not made by one person. Am going to assume that since human reproduction is a compulsory topic, you all know the basics so I won’t delve into details. So, why should the consequences of an act that is perfomed by two be on the shoulders of one person? Mr Magufuli says nothing about the father. Shouldn’t the result of a teen mum remaining in school be the same as a teen dad? I am just going to come right out and say it, this is unfair to girls. These are not the words of a crazy feminist, I believe that punishing only the girl is just wrong.
Teen mums world over have gone on to finish and better themselves. Don’t they deserve that chance? Everyone makes mistakes, by carrying the pregnancy to term and accepting to bring up those babies at their age, it means that they accept the consequences of their actions. They should be allowed to go back to school and make a life for themselves. Have careers they are proud of and a way to support themselves and their babies. If they opt to be dressmakers, it shouldn’t be because it’s the only choice they were given.
Newsflash, pregnancy is not contagious. So his theory about Standard one kids going home to breastfeed is just wrong. Also what are the odds of a six year old having a kid? Let’s be realistic here. Far from encouraging girls to engage in sex, I think having teen mums attend school will serve as a lesson. Being a mum is not easy, being a mum in school is double the hardship. It’s so much hardwork. Other kids will take that as a lesson, of how hard life will be if they follow the same path. But of course, President JP doesn’t see it that way.
Let’s talk about how we avoid sex talk with teenagers like the plague. It comes as a ‘shock’ to us that teens are having sex and getting pregnant. The truth is that we know it but we don’t want to talk about them. Talking to them about irresponsible behaviour such as unprotected sex is often taken as encouraging immorality. What do we expect the result to be? If we can’t handle that, then we should be prepared for teen mums to be there. When I was in primary school, some of my classmates dropped out as early as Class Five because they got pregnant. They wound up married at that tender age. Why don’t we teach our kids to be safe instead of planning how they will be taught dressmaking once they get pregnant?
Also, has Mr Magufuli considered how these teenagers came to be pregnant? How about those that found themselves in unfortunate situations where they were sexually abused? Not all sex is consensual, there are teens who are raped and they get pregnant. There is no mention of reprieve for them either. They have been subjected to the same fate, if this isn’t the height of unfairness, I don’t know what is.
If what President Magufuli is saying comes to pass, lives will be ruined. A vicious cycle will be started and there will be no end to it. This kids who are being forced to drop out of school will have ruined lives, the chances of their daughtera repeating the same will be very high. Let teenage mums be given a chance to learn and succeed.
P. S. there is a petition on change.org calling for Magufuli to allow pregnant teenagers and teenage mums to complete their education.