NAIROBI – The World Bank has scrapped a plan to loan Tanzania $300 million after the country reaffirmed its policy of banning pregnant girls from school and recently made it a crime to question official statistics, a bank official said on Wednesday.
The Washington-based lender decided against presenting the education program related to the loan to its board for approval last month, the official said.
Tanzanian authorities did not answer calls for comment on Wednesday.
President John Magufuli’s government has been condemned by rights groups and Western governments for what they say is its growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. The government has rejected that criticism.
Tanzania has banned pregnant girls from attending state primary and secondary schools since 1961. Last year, Magufuli reaffirmed that policy and said that as long as he was president no pregnant student would be allowed to return to school.
“The World Bank supports policies that encourage girls’ education and make it possible for young women to stay in school until they reach their full potential,” the Bank said in an e-mailed statement.
“Working with other partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate for girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government.”
Last month, the World Bank also criticised new Tanzanian legislation which will punish anyone who questions official statistics, saying the law will undermine the production of useful, high-quality data. [nL8N1WJ1WL]
The attorney general said at the time that the changes were needed to enforce standards.
Last week, the World Bank suspended visiting missions to Tanzania, according to an internal note seen by Reuters, after an official in Dar es Salaam threatened to launch a crackdown on homosexuals. [nL8N1XG1JJ]
The foreign ministry said the official’s anti-gay campaign represented his own views and not the government position.