Parlimentary Question: Teenage pregancy crisis

1415

QUESTION 314

DATE OF PUBLICATION OF INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 19/02/2010
(INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER 2/1020)

Mr A K Mpontshane (IFP) to ask the Minister of Basic Education:

(1) Whether teenage pregnancies continue to be a problem in schools; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what is the statistical exposition of the situation;
(2) whether her department has provided guidelines to help schools deal with teenage pregnancies; if not, why not; if so, how effective have these guidelines been in assisting schools to curb teenage pregnancies? NW338E

Draft response

Teenage pregnancy is amongst the major concerns facing young people in South Africa today. It is one that compromises their future, as well as their emotional and physical well being. Moreover, it is a phenomenon that goes against the kind of society we want to live in, and the kind of generation that we want to raise.

Since 2007, when the Department released the Measures for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy (Annexure 1), the Department has focused on working with education stakeholders focusing on ways in which teachers, schools and school communities can prevent and manage teenage pregnancy when it occurs. These initiatives have included the first three editions of the Genderations series, support materials for teachers which appeared in the Teacher newspaper between September and November 2008.

In January and February 2009, the Department held District workshops in three provinces (Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape), focusing on teenage pregnancy, as well as sexual harassment and violence in schools. These workshops and other discussions on teenage pregnancy have shown that teachers and officials struggle to manage teenage pregnancy, in particular the policies that focus on keeping girls in school and ensuring that they return to education after giving birth. There is uneven implementation of the return to school policy, and reports have been received that some principals have used the Measures document, to prevent girls from returning to school after giving birth. All provinces are working hard to ensure that this does not happen.

In 2008, the Department commissioned research on teenage pregnancy with a focus on school-going learners. The study examined the prevalence, determinants, as well as effects of teen pregnancy in South Africa. The study came about through recognising the huge public concern about teenage pregnancy, in particular amongst schoolgirls.

In August 2009, the Department convened a national seminar to release the research report. The research report highlighted the following:

That there is a decline in teenage fertility in South Africa;

That remaining in the education system is a strong factor in preventing teenagers from falling pregnant;

That learner pregnancies are concentrated in Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape as well as Limpopo provinces (predominantly rural);

That learner pregnancies are more concentrated in schools located in poor neighbourhoods, schools that are under-resourced; and schools with a significant age differential / age mixing between learners; and

That older adolescents (17-19) account for > 90% of teen fertility, and that rates are higher among African (71/1000) & Coloured (60/1000) teens than among White (14/1000) & Indian (22/1000) teens.

Whilst the study’s conclusion is that there is a decline in teenage fertility – the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in South Africa, specifically in public schools, is unacceptably high.

The report is available on the Department’s website at www.education.gov.za and has been presented to a number of stakeholders, including the Portfolio committee on Basic Education, a joint sitting with the Portfolio Committee on Women, children and persons with disabilities.

Certain determinants of teenage pregnancy occur within the private domain. It is therefore mainly within families, churches and communities that some remedies must evolve and be implemented. A strong partnership is required between Government, civil society, faith based organizations, learners, school governing bodies, the unions, the media and other sectors of our society in order to address this issue successfully.