SA pupils had more than 200 000 babies in 3 years

2014-01-29 17:11

About 206 891 babies were born to schoolgoing teenage girls in South Africa between 2009 and 2012, the Education For All report has revealed.

When the research was conducted, 81 655 girls were pregnant, while 8 903 reported stillbirths, says the report, adding that 4 134 had undergone abortions.

The report, which raises the alarm about teenage pregnancy, was published by the Department of Basic Education this month.

Education for all is an initiative of Unesco, which is aimed at making primary education universal and reduce illiteracy. About 155 countries, including South Africa, participate in the initiative.

The report reads: “Teenage motherhood seems to impose long-term consequences on the career development of young mothers, and is therefore likely to result in the transmitting of poverty from generation to generation.”

It warns that policies aimed at preventing the long-term consequences of teenage motherhood should be focused on helping teenage mothers to succeed in their secondary school education.

The report notes that while hardline policies on pregnancy while in school have been relaxed, not all teenage mothers remain or return to school after giving birth.

“This may stem from an uneven implementation of school policy, which may result in suspension or expulsion of pregnant teenagers. Other issues include few child-caring alternatives, inadequate support from families, peers and the social environment as well as the social stigma of being a teenage mother.”

While pregnancy and teenage motherhood are major reasons why high school girls drop out of school, social, economic and cultural issues also play a role.

The report claims that South Africa’s pupil-to-teacher ratio has improved dramatically over the years, at an average of 30 to one.

The official ratio is 40 to one in primary schools and 35 to one at secondary level. Last year, City Press reported that there were 153 pupils in one class at the Meyisi Senior Secondary School in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape.

Read: Exclusive – Back to Bantu education?

Panyaza Lesufi, the spokesperson for the department of basic education, referred to teenage pregnancy as a crisis. “It’s a major worry. Teenage pregnancy is responsible for the many dropouts at senior secondary. The scary thing is that it means these kids are not condomising.”

He said the department supports the proposed legislation to ban alcohol advertising as “many of the kids fall into mischief when they are drunk”. The department, he said, is also working with the department of health to distribute condoms in schools. “If we don’t control this, it will destroy our young people.”

The report also shows that school access for pupils between the ages of 6 and 18 has improved dramatically in the 10-year period to 2012.

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