While Tanzania has welcomed the World Bank board’s approval last Wednesday of a long-awaited $500 million loan in support of the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (Sequip), the US has said it is concerned about the success of the project because Dar has not committed to ending the practice of involuntary pregnancy testing of school girls and the expulsion of those found pregnant.
“The US urges the World Bank to come back to the Board with semi-annual updates on Sequip implementation, given the high-risk environment in which the project will be implemented. Given the World Bank’s suspension of support to Tanzania in 2018, it is also critically important that the Bank communicate clearly to all stakeholders why it is now re-engaging, given the significant risks in this sector,” a statement read.
The funds had been withheld at the request of rights activists in Tanzania who criticised the unconstitutional policy.
“The US is not convinced that this investment is appropriate at this time, nor that it will succeed in achieving its goals, and is concerned that Board approval may be interpreted as support for some of the ongoing unfair practices.
“The US further emphasises the need to ensure the highest degree of real monitoring to ensure that the funds are disbursed only against tangible progress. The US wishes to be recorded as voting ‘no’ on this operation, as vulnerable communities still face significant risks in not being able to access quality education, and there remains great concern that the project will continue to stigmatise girls,” the statement said.
Three years ago, Tanzanian President John Magufuli vowed not to allow pregnant school girls access to public schools. According to the Education Ministry, more than 55,000 pregnant schoolgirls have been expelled from school in the past decade.
Sequip is set to benefit 6.5 million pupils of both primary and secondary schools. Part of the money aims to increase enrollment in primary school from 8.3 million to 10.1 million.
On Wednesday, the World Bank said its board of directors had approved credit from the International Development Association to help young Tanzanians complete secondary school in safer learning environments.