World Bank Delays Tanzania Loan Decision on Human Rights Concerns

(Bloomberg) --

The World Bank postponed its decision to fund an education project in Tanzania after activists criticized government policies for restricting pregnant girls from attending school.

The Concerned Citizens of Tanzanian Civil Society wrote to the lender asking to delay approval of a $500 million loan until President John Magufuli’s administration affirms the right of pregnant girls to attend school and ends compulsory pregnancy tests. A board meeting on the project aimed at improving girls’ access to secondary education had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Discussion of the project will be moved to a future date after a World Bank board member requested a delay, according to information from the Washington-based lender.

Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said critics are misrepresenting the government’s policies, and that the administration cares about education for all girls, including those who dropout after they fall pregnant. “We have come up with something called ‘Alternative Pathway’ which is non-discriminatory,” Kabudi said at a Monday meeting in Dar es Salaam without giving details.

Magufuli, who’s expected to seek re-election in October, has been hailed for improving government efficiency and fighting graft during his first five years in office. He’s also been criticized for what advocacy groups including New York-based Human Rights Watch say is suppression of basic freedoms, and economic policies that have discouraged private investment.

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