Teen pregnancy causes girls to drop out of school
Teen pregnancy is a common problem in Tanzania amongst adolescent girls. Falling pregnant in Tanzania means the end of one’s education, as those that fall pregnant are routinely expelled from school, and prevented from ever returning. This is a sad situation as girls’ hope and dream are forever shattered and often, these young girls end up either being married off or at some low paying job.
Tanzania has been ranked the 17 making it among countries with the highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa. Teenage pregnancy has also increased by 4 percent in Tanzania since 2010; by 2016 one in four adolescents aged 15-19 had begun childbearing (UNFPA, 2016).
Teen pregnancy occurs for a number of reasons, including lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education and services.
Therefore, it is important that schools offer sexual and reproductive health education and teachers should conduct engaging class discussions, so that students learn how to cope with body changes and to best look after themselves in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy is a problem due to a number of factors: higher risk of complications during pregnancy and lasting health problems, dropping out of school and not being able to return, poverty and limited economic opportunities, stigmatization and family conflicts.
(Image courtesy of PlanInternational)
Punitive and radical approaches are a common norm to expel school girls that fall pregnant and further preventing them from ever returning even after they have given birth. This drastic approach, however, seems to be failing as teenage pregnancy rate increases from 23% (of all girls aged 15-19) in 2010 to 27% in 2015.
But why is a girl deprived of her education just because she fell pregnant? Why can’t she give birth and then continue with her studies so that she is able to support her child? What of her accomplice, why does he have to walk away and unscathed?
Earlier in September TAI launched the Darubini Project that aims to deliver sexual and reproductive health education to both girls and boys in order to reduce teenage pregnancy in secondary schools particularly in underprivileged communities.
Through trainings on sexual and reproductive health that are done in partnership with other NGO’s, stakeholders and partners, Tai provides education to both teachers and students.
Tai volunteers at one of sessions with secondary students (Photo courtesy of Tai Studio).
Further, TAI Tanzania realizes the power of modern technology and animation which has the potential to assist to understand real life situations. Tai Tanzania now uses short 3D animated video content to deliver training to increase engagement and dialogue between students on sexual and reproductive health issues
Harataki za Lucy is an edutainment series, which seeks to harness the power of modern technology to not only entertain but also convey educational messages. The animation series aims to educate and raise awareness in different areas where young girls are deeply affected in their local communities including teenage pregnancies.
This is Lucy every Tanzanian girls' heroine and Tai's too (Photo courtesy of Tai Studio).
A school girl falling pregnant is unacceptable but it is also not the end of the world and they should neither be judged nor discriminated on this factor. They should instead have a second chance at education so that they can fulfill their hopes and dreams of making something out of their lives. Whether it is becoming a doctor, engineer, an entrepreneur, this will enable them to provide for their families and also help others who have been in a similar situations and still be great!