TANZANIA – Tanzania became the 13th African country to join the Education Plus Initiative, committing to provide greater investments to ensure boys and girls complete secondary school.
Education Plus is an initiative spearheaded by UNAIDS to accelerate action and investments in education to prevent HIV.
Evidence shows that completing secondary education reduces the risk of HIV infection and early pregnancy and improves their livelihoods and prosperity for girls and young women.
The education Plus initiative is centred on empowering adolescent girls and young women and achieving gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa.
The launch of Education Plus in Tanzania will accelerate the ongoing country’s adolescent education, health and wellbeing agenda.
Tanzania has been particularly affected by HIV. In 2021 around 1.7 million people were living with HIV; 74% of new HIV infections among young people aged between 15 and 24 were among young women, showing the disproportionate impact HIV is having on young women and girls.
Minister Simbachawene said the country would increase primary education opportunities for adolescents and enable them to stay in school by removing all barriers to completion of primary and secondary school education.
Through the initiative, Tanzania will strengthen efforts to bring HIV education, reproductive health, and life skills to adolescents inside and outside of school.
The initiative comes at a time when Tanzania has made good progress in adopting global treaties and agreements to address gaps in education and health rights and increase opportunities for girls and boys.
Most commitments have been translated into national policies and strategies, as demonstrated by the government’s commitment to offering free basic and secondary education.
Tanzania has also adopted policy decisions to implement a re-entry program for children who drop out and to include comprehensive sexuality education into the curriculum.
The country has also amended the HIV and AIDS Act to lower the age of consent for HIV testing and allow HIV self-testing.
The minister also pledged to do more to eliminate gender-based and sexual violence by providing youth-friendly education, skills building, and enhancing referrals by connecting youth to health and community services.
However, key gaps remain, with national surveys showing increased rates of teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, and high levels of gender-based violence.
Around 27% of young women aged between 15 and 19 years already have a child or are pregnant and 50% of ever-married women aged between 15 and 49 report experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional violence.
At the launch, the government committed to strengthening policies to facilitate the provision of education and essential skills to prepare and equip young people for employment and other economic opportunities.