World Bank plans to grant Tanzania $ 500 million education loan despite ban on pregnant schoolgirls

the reorganized $ 500 million the loan pledges to provide pregnant girls and new mothers with “alternative education pathways”, but fails to seek the reversal of the ban.

The board meeting to review the loan will take place on Tuesday. Bella Bird, the World Bank’s national director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia, is expected to step down on Friday, according to a source at the bank.

Tanzanian activists wrote a letter, seen by CNN, to the executive council urging them to stop the loan until the country passes a law guaranteeing the right of pregnant girls to attend regular high schools and ending pregnancy tests. mandatory. CNN visited three Tanzanian schools in 2018 where eighth grade girls having undergone compulsory pregnancy tests.
Tanzania uses a morality clause in a 2002 Education Act to give schools the legal framework to expel pregnant students – the practice dates back to the 1960s. The law has been more widely enforced since President John took office Pombe Magufuli in 2015.
A $ 300 million educational loan to Tanzania was retired in 2018 on concerns about the expulsion of pregnant girls and the introduction of a law that criminalizes questioning official statistics sign for it online.

The Tanzanian government amended the statistics law last year, but stopped before any formal changes in the way it treats pregnant girls.

A World Bank spokesperson for Tanzania said that since 2018 the bank has been working with the Tanzanian government to find a solution. He said the aim of the reworked loan program was “to improve the quality and supply of education”.

“The program has been redesigned … to ensure that girls and boys who drop out, including pregnant girls, have other education options for themselves.

Asked why the bank did not require a guarantee that girls who became pregnant would be allowed to continue in public school if they wished, the spokesperson reiterated that the current solution was the result of a agreement between the World Bank and Magufuli.

The Tanzanian government declined to comment on CNN.

According to a World Bank document describing the loan, around 5,500 girls were unable to continue their secondary education due to teenage pregnancy and young motherhood in 2017.

About a quarter of Tanzanian girls aged 15 to 19 are mothers or pregnant. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the percentage of adolescent girls who gave birth or were pregnant rose to 27% in 2016 from 23% in 2010.

Child marriage, from the age of 15, banned since 2016, remains a problem – 36% of women aged 25 to 49 married before they turned 18, according to official 2016 data, the latest available.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe told CNN the new loan would allow the stigma against pregnant girls in Tanzania to continue.

“The way the loan is structured [means] young girls who get pregnant for whatever reason will be placed in separate schools, “he told CNN.” It’s not fair. I wonder how the World Bank can allow this. ”

Kabwe also sent the World Bank a letter about the loan, highlighting the worsening human rights and human rights situation in the country. Kabwe asked the bank to suspend lending to the government “until basic checks and balances are restored in Tanzania”

Elin Martínez, senior researcher in the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, called the reworked program a “workaround.”

“The government has failed to keep the promises and conditions set last year,” she said. “We thought the World Bank was not going to make this loan until the government adopted a policy in which it actually said explicitly ‘we will end discrimination against girls.’

“This does not happen. [The government] will not remove the discriminatory ban, it is quite clear now. ”

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