(Washington, DC) October 25, 2016. EG Justice categorically condemns Equatorial Guinea’s policy decision to ban pregnant students from enrolling in school.
On July 18, 2016, the Ministry of Education issued a Ministerial Order forbidding “access to classrooms to pregnant students.” Before the start of the new school year, schoolgirls must show the results of a pregnancy test, before enrollment. A positive test result would lead to the student being turned away by the school administrators. The order claims to be aimed at combating crime and bad habits among students. Furthermore, the Minister of Education Ms. Maria-Jesús Nkara, argued during an interview on national TV, that the measure “encourages schoolgirls to take precautions and prevent unwanted pregnancies.”
“This policy is a blatant discrimination against our schoolchildren. Education should be inclusive, but instead the government is fostering an environment that encourages abortions—many of them, at great risk to the girl’s health—as the only viable solution for these students,” said a teacher from Malabo who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. “Requiring pregnancy tests as a prerequisite for school enrollment is utterly degrading, and a clear government overstep that infringes on the students’ right to privacy protected bynational laws,” added the teacher.
At a time when most nations are adopting coherent policies to ensure that all children have access and complete education, this discriminatory measure shows the government of Equatorial Guinea’s failure to uphold its legal responsibility of ensuring that no child is left without education. It flies in the face of commitments assumed at the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, where many countries have pretentiously praised Equatorial Guinea’s supposed efforts to advance education for girls.
“The right to education is a basic human right. It is our individual and collective duty to care for all our children and to ensure that they are all educated.” Said Tutu Alicante, EG Justice Executive Director. “Pregnancy is not a crime. It does not interfere with learning and thinking.” The government should guarantee the right to education and adequate healthcare to all children, regardless of pregnancy status. Discriminating against pupils on the basis of pregnancy is an indefensible, illegal and unconstitutional decision.”
Click the links below to read more.