(Washington, DC, April 24, 2020) – The World Bank should work with the Tanzanian government to ensure that all pregnant girls and teenage mothers can attend public schools, Human Rights Watch said in a report. question and answer document released today. The World Bank should not disburse the initial tranches of a 1990-1990 education loan to Tanzania scheduled for 2021 until the government guarantees equal access to free and compulsory primary education and equal access secondary education for all girls.
On March 31, 2020, the Board of Directors of the World Bank approved a loan to Tanzania for its secondary education program. In so doing, the World Bank has ignored a government policy, backed by President John Magufuli, that prevents pregnant students and teenage mothers from attending mainstream public schools across the country. the World Bank released inaccurate information which denies the existence of this policy and ignores the findings of non-governmental groups that have documented the harm it causes.
“The World Bank, Tanzania’s largest multilateral donor, is well placed to help ensure that every Tanzanian girl receives an education without discrimination,” said Agnes Odhiambo, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch. “The World Bank must ensure that its investments improve, not undermine, the human rights of all Tanzanian girls.”
In approving the loan, the World Bank did not address concerns about the ban, leaving questions about its commitment to work to end the policy, Human Rights Watch said.
On April 6, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education, Science and Technology released a statement regarding the World Bank loan and said its Secondary Education Quality Improvement Program (SEQUIP) would be implemented “without discrimination and would include girls who drop out of school for various reasons, including pregnancy. However, the ministry did not say that pregnant girls could return to regular public schools.
SEQUIP enables girls to study in so-called “alternative education pathways,” or alternative education centers, which the World Bank has called a viable alternative to secondary school. But the program faces challenges related to low quality education and access, even for those trying to access it, and is paying.
The Tanzanian government should immediately end the school ban. President Magufuli should publicly withdraw his destructive comments against allowing pregnant girls to stay in school and call on his government to adopt a human rights compliant policy to help all pregnant girls go to school .
The World Bank should ensure that pregnant girls and teenage mothers are not forced to choose a parallel and substandard education system. They should ensure that every girl is included in the formal education system. Girls should be given the opportunity to attend public primary and secondary schools or alternative learning pathways such as SEQUIP, if they wish, when they have been out of school for long periods of time.
“In approving this loan, the World Bank approved inadequate measures, such as inferior alternative education options, that discriminate against girls and support abusive government policies,” Odhiambo said. “The World Bank should examine the evidence and listen to the many voices saying that while it is important to expand secondary education in Tanzania, it should not come at the expense of the future of girls.”