We create a stigma-free second chance for underserved and unserved teen mothers; we enable them to regain their education goals, self-esteem and self-confidence, and eventually access higher education, vocational and other technical training
Until 24th November 2021, teenage mothers were banned from continuing their education in public schools, and even now there are few public schools that meet their needs. The experience of Tanzanian adolescent mothers who dropped out of school due to pregnancy is still surrounded by complexities and stigma.
Throughout the history of Tanzania students who got pregnant were excluded from the public school system irrespective of the cause of pregnancy. Eradication of such stigma and discrimination will take a long time and require collective effort.
Tanzanian society is patriarchal and regards girls who get pregnant while in school as immoral, even if they were raped. Stigma and discrimination against teenage mothers begins in the homes and extends to schools, many religious traditions, and the community at large.
Furthermore, because of poverty, many teenage mothers lack support from their families and the community alike. For instance, alongside removal of the controversial ban, the government of Tanzania has introduced Elimu Haina Mwhisho Program (Education Has No End Program) that is implemented across the country through Focal Development Colleges (FDCs) designed to provide free accredited secondary education to adolescent mothers (WB, 2021). However, by December 2021, about 1,200 adolescent mothers regained their studies (Aflatoun International, 2021) while the annual average of school dropouts due to pregnancy is more than 6,000 (World Bank, 2021).
The current situation entrenches a cycle of ignorance and poverty, which in itself is bad for the country as well as the girls and their community. Therefore we established Tumaini Education Initiative in Tabora in 2019 which was officially registered as a Community Based Organization on 28th April 2021 to create a sustainable, inclusive and stigma-free learning centre that enrol adolescent mothers and provides them with a second chance to acquire secondary education qualifications, and where appropriate move on to higher education or vocational training that will enable them to support themselves and their babies.
Alongside secondary education, the school offers guidance and counselling services to restore their self-esteem and self-confidence as quickly as possible and to work towards eliminating the stigma attached to teenage pregnancies that is still so common in Tanzania.