Save the Children Reactive statement on Zanzibar’s government announcement for girls’ school re-entry after giving birth

Monday 19 April 2021

Save the Children Reactive statement on Zanzibar’s government announcement for girls’ school re-entry after giving birth


Following the announcement of the honourable Minister of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) on 4 April, which urged directors and heads of units in the MoEVT in Zanzibar to allow pregnant girls to return to school after giving birth, Save the Children would like to congratulate the Minister and the government of Zanzibar for this great achievement towards ensuring girls rights to education are protected. 

Save the Children now calls for other supporters to engage and stand up for children's education, especially girls’ education across Tanzania. 

Save the Children’s Country Director, Peter Walsh in Tanzania said: 

“Zanzibar has taken the lead and we are hoping to witness similar initiatives on the mainland. Education protects children from poverty, violence and abuse, and helps them laugh, learn, eat, play and grow. We can’t afford to see girls losing their opportunity to learn due to early/unwanted pregnancies. Together, we can work with our leaders and the government to save education and protect a generation. Let’s get pregnant girls back to school after giving birth!”

On Sunday April 4, 2021, The Minister for Education and Vocational Training in Zanzibar, Mr Simai Mohamed Said urged directors and heads of units in the Ministry to ensure  pregnant girls return to school after giving birth. The Minister insisted on creating community awareness on the matter insisting that it is the official’s responsibility to do so.

The Minister further urged the community to stop discriminative behaviours against pregnant school girls, insisting that these girls can and should aim to be patriotic and professionals in their country. Among other things, Hon Said urged parents to stop being the stepping-stone toward early marriage as they push young girls into marriage after they get pregnant. He insisted that parents should stop isolating young girls, and instead be at the forefront of defending their rights so that they can return to school and fulfil their dreams.

In a bid to echo the Minister’s statement, Save the Children together with other like minded organizations supports the government’s efforts to protect and fulfil girls’ rights to amend the Zanzibar Education Act of 1982 to prevent under 18-year marriage. In addition, Save the Children will continue with its efforts to fulfil its vision to ensure that every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation in line with its global strategy and ambition for Children 2030. We have redoubled our efforts so that key gain in children’s rights, such as their right to education, are not lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and states re-allocate at least 20% of the national budget or 6% of GDP to education. Save the Children remains focused on reaching out to the most marginalised children, families and communities in areas that we work. 

A recently released Let Girl's Learn! policy briefsets out Save the Children’s global policy position on girls’ education and realising gender equality in and through education. It provides governments with suggestions, recommendations and data that can assist in the design of education policy and programmes to enable all children, regardless of their gender, to receive a good-quality education and to be empowered equally in and through education. The policy brief can also assist international and national civil society organizations and others in this way.

This global brief picks a case study from Tanzania that depicts an example of a young girl who has been denied the right to education as she was married young.

“I wanted to study, but they forced me into marriage before my final examination results were released. Later, my examination results revealed that I had qualified to join high school.

Sadly, I did not know when my parents were planning for my marriage. Our families agreed and the dowry was paid. One day during the rainy season, my father told me to go with the man. I was in shock, sad and silently moved into the new role of a wife and immediately a mother.

I still have hope. I want to invest in my children. I have been trained by Save the Children on issues of sexual reproductive health, financial literacy, life skills and generating income for sustained livelihood. I am a community champion and I understand the importance of education and why we should fight against child marriage. I will work hard to ensure that my children don’t get married off early and that they finish school.”

Tatu, 17, Tanzania, is a member of Save the Children’s Supporting Civil Society to Counter Harmful Traditional Practices project, which ensures that men, women, boys and girls in two districts of Shinyanga are empowered to act to counter harmful traditional practices and discriminatory gender norms. The project focuses particularly on adolescent girls.

In 2020, Save the Children continued working with the Government of Tanzania and 14 civil society partners to deliver our promise of immediate and lasting change to lives of children through Child Rights Governance, Child Protection, Health and Nutrition and Education interventions in 11 regions across the country. In 2020, Save the Children’s programs in Tanzania directly supported over 1.9 million people of which over 1.5 million were children (51% girls).

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Media Contact:  Secilia Bosco: