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Burundi: School Pregnancy Ban Reversed

(Aug. 30, 2018) On July 27, 2018, Burundi’s education ministry reversed a month-old school pregnancy ban, which had prevented pregnant teens and young mothers, as well as the boys who made them pregnant, from being part of the formal education system. (Nita Bhalla, Burundi Reversing School Pregnancy Ban Not Enough to Protect Girls: Campaigners, REUTERS (July 31, 2018).)

Background

In a directive to the country’s provincial education directors dated June 26, 2018, Dr. Janvière Ndirahisha, Burundi’s Minister of Education, announced that pregnant teens and young mothers, as well as the boys who made them pregnant, no longer had the right to be allowed into public or private schools, although they would be allowed to attend professional training courses. (Nita Bhalla, Burundi School Ban on Expectant Teens “Skewed” Against Girls’ Education, REUTERS (July 4, 2018).)

Campaigners and human rights groups were quick to condemn the ban. Indeed, Naitore Nyamu-Mathenge, a lawyer from the human rights campaign group Equality Now, explained that the ban “disproportionately affects girls as it is skewed towards an abuse of the girls’ rights to education.” (Id.)

Government officials did not give a reason for repealing the controversial policy but may have done so in response to global criticism and numerous violations to national and international laws. (Burundi Reversing School Pregnancy Ban Not Enough to Protect Girls: Campaigners, supra.)

Reactions

 Although local human rights groups welcomed Burundi’s U-turn on its recent ban, campaigners suggest more should be done to curb sexual exploitation and teen pregnancies. (Id.) According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 40% of victims of physical or sexual violence in Burundi are teenage girls, about 11% of girls aged 15–19 are sexually active, and 7% have had at least one child. (Queen Nyeniteka, I Dream of Saving Lives, UNFPA: EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA (Oct. 28, 2016).)

Prepared by Sarah Ettedgui, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist.