THE government says it will not hesitate to take serious legal actions against anyone who would be ascertained to be involved in practices that facilitate absenteeism, pregnancies and early marriages of school girls, the National Assembly was told here yesterday.
The Minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof Joyce Ndalichako, said in a written response to a question from special seats Member of Parliament Martha Umbulla (CCM), that the Education Act chapter 353, with its amendments of 2016, lists a number of punishments for anyone who was found guilty of such malpractices.
She said: “Anyone who will be conclusively found to have perpetrated such practices would be subjected to a fine of not less than 5m/- or a five years’ jail term, or a combination of both.”
In her principal question, the MP had asked what the government plans were to rescue girls from pastoralist communities who she said lacked opportunities to continue with school because they were married off at a tender age despite laws stating clearly on schooling opportunities that girls have.
The ministry said a 2004 education sector circular directs all children of school going age had to be enrolled, registered and attend and complete their primary education as their fundamental right.
The ministry said apart from the laws, it had also put in place various initiatives such as free education for primary and secondary education, the establishment of learning centres and construction of girls hostels especially in pastoralists communities.
“The construction of hostels protects girls from walking long distances as well as being protected from pregnancies,” the ministry said.