Tanzanian mothers who were thrown out of school for getting pregnant have graduated at the weekend, thanks to a retired teacher.
Teenage pregnancy in Tanzania became a topic of international debate after President John Magufuli said in 2017 that pregnant girls should be expelled from school. But now 72-year-old retired teacher Martina Simon Siara is giving them a second chance with her school for mothers in Arusha, northern Tanzania.
The Faraja Centre provides courses such as catering and tailoring but crucially it has a crèche which allows students to concentrate on classes uninterrupted. One of the students who graduated, 23-year-old mother of twins, Debra Emmanuel, was thrown out of her family home and expelled from school after she became pregnant at 17 years old.
“I will start my own business and get some money to help my children and to take them to school,” she told the BBC on her graduation day after finishing a catering course. President Magufuli was criticised heavily after, at a rally in 2017, warning school girls: “After getting pregnant, you are done”. But actually he was emphasising a law that already exists. The law, passed back in 2002, allows for the expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls.