The ministry of education in Burundi last week issued a directive to provincial authorities saying pregnant teens and young mums, as well as the boys who made them pregnant, no longer had the right to be part of the formal education system
In a letter dated June 26 to the country’s provincial education directors, Minister of Education Janvière Ndirahisha said that these students would however be allowed to attend vocational or professional training courses.
But rights groups said preventing children from attending school would have a devastating impact on their education in a country where 11 percent of girls aged 15-19 years are sexually active, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The east African nation’s ban is geared towards curtailing the rights of girls more than boys, said campaigners, adding that it would be easy to notice pregnant girls, but more difficult to identify the boys involved.
“This ban disproportionately affects girls and it is skewed towards an abuse of the girls’ rights to education,” said Naitore Nyamu-Mathenge, a lawyer from the campaign group Equality Now.
“How does the government intend on proving that Boy A impregnated Girl B? How about cases where the perpetrators are teachers, adults in the community, will the government go after them too?”