Dear Mr. President, Pregnancy is not contagious.

Juliet Opinion

Image credit: Quartz.  Featured image

I like Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli. Mostly his corruption free style that puts things in order.

His family- the first lady- was even admitted in a public hospital, the equivalent of Kenyatta National Hospital. Wait, when was the last time we heard of a Kenyan public figure hospitalized in KNH? But that’s beside the point of this post.

Among his commendable achievements is abolishing school fees for secondary levels of education in 2015, a move that has increased school enrollment in the country. Free primary education which was implemented earlier, caused a jump in the net enrollment rate  from 59% in 2000 to 94% in 2011.

Magufuli is now of the opinion that once girls get pregnant, they should not be allowed back in school. That ‘parents’ should not be allowed to mix with school children who are serious about learning. He says that they would encourage others to follow suit in getting pregnant.

Let me simplify that. There’s a Swahili proverb that says, ‘Nazi mbovu, harabu ya nzima’- a bad coconut spoils the rest. The problem is that the one who bears the evidence of having sex, is the girl. If a girl is pregnant, either a fellow student, teacher or other male individual made her pregnant.

The ones who will be on the receiving end of his patriarchal policy would be the ones left with evidence of teenage sex. Punishing girls who get pregnant while in school will only lead to reducing the status of women and girls, when we all African countries are striving to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking of SDG’s, he blames NGO’s for introducing foreign norms to Africa, and encouraging school children to be sexually active. He even asks NGOs to open schools for young mothers.

Mr. President, this amounts to marginalization of the girl child, considering that a girl who gets pregnant at a young age is already disadvantaged. According to WHO, many girls who become pregnant have to drop out of school. A girl with little or no education has fewer skills and opportunities to find a job.

You can sign a petition by change.org to persuade him to change his stand.

Watch the video of his address to the public on this issue.

About the author

Juliet Otieno is the Brand and Social Media Lead at Eneza Education. She is trained in journalism and Public Relations and is a blogger who likes to play with words. This article is a cross post.

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