ZANZIBAR government and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have agreed to strengthen collaboration to help girls who dropped out of school after becoming pregnant to continue with studies.
The strengthening of the partnership follows a report on evaluation of ‘Re-Entry School Policy’ implementation presented here to stakeholders in education sector at a meeting held in Unguja.
After report deliberation, UNESCO promised to continue supporting the return of the students to complete their basic education.
At the same occasion, Minister for Education and Vocational Training Mr Simai Mohamed Said appealed to executives in his ministry to educate and encourage parents and victims to return to school after giving birth.
“Members of the community, parents, students and teachers should stop stigma and having negative perception on students who get pregnant. Most of them would like to continue with education, let us encourage them to return to school,” said the Minister.
He said the executives in his ministry in collaboration with stakeholders should educate parents that ‘pregnancy’ while still in school doesn’t mean the end of education as they can still return and study up to university level.
“There has been a tendency of forcing pregnant students to get married… this should stop to allow children achieve their dream after giving birth. Parents should not isolate their children who get pregnant before completing their studies, there is still opportunity to continue,” Mr Simai advised.
UNESCO’s Director Mr Tirso Dossantos promised that his organisation remains committed to work closely with Zanzibar government in supporting girl students to complete their basic education (Standard one to Form IV).
He said the discussions on the report has enabled UNESCO to come-up with alternative ways of supporting girls who get pregnant return to school to complete education without obstructing challenges.
In her presentation (Evaluation Report of Re-entry School Policy) Ms Mshauri Abdullah Khamis informed the meeting that findings show that many students who get pregnant do not get back to schools because of stigma from parents and community.
Parents are also reluctant to allow their children back to school.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training Mr Ali Khamis Ali said that while the government is allowing students who get pregnant to return to school, it is important for the stakeholders to find workable ways of preventing pregnancy among students.