Data have shown that girls with secondary or higher education are ten times less likely to become pregnant as adolescents than girls with no education.
Yet, in the same year, over 7000 girls dropped out of primary and secondary schools due to pregnancy.
In 2010, only half (53.5 percent) of pupils passed the primary school leavers’ examination. This figure masks significant discrepancies; in Shinyanga and Kigoma regions around 70 percent of girls failed the exam compared with around 50 percent of boys.
The reasons for this are manifold and complex and include entrenched cultural practices which lead to girls under-performing.
UNICEF in action
UNICEF supports the Tanzania Gender in Education Initiative (TGEI) which was established in 2008 to advocate for gender issues in education.
The 52- member organisation has developed a joint work plan that focuses on improving retention and performance of both girls and boys in primary schools, as Tanzania seems to be on track towards achieving universal enrolment in basic education.
TGEI has a ten-member task force meets quarterly and has been instrumental in ensuring teachers and head teachers are equipped with skills to apply gender responsive teaching methods.
Moreover, in about 10 percent of primary schools, the Secretariat has trained teachers and pupils in TUSEME (Let’s Speak Out) approach that enhances child participation in matters of their concern, including development of life skills, especially for prevention of child marriage, early pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents. UNICEF is now supporting the scaling up of this programme to other districts.
Advocacy by UNICEF and partners to ensure that girls do not lose their right to education due to pregnancy resulted in a clear statement by the Education Minister about the right of school-age girls to be readmitted to school after childbirth, and opened up a dialogue about their right to attend school when pregnant.
In addition the Education and Training Policy, which is the guiding document for the Education Sector, now expressly states that pregnant girls must not be excluded from school and must be supported to complete their education.