Schools declare war on social ills

2011-05-04 00:00

WITH more than 17 000 schoolgirls reportedly falling pregnant in KZN schools last year, the provincial Education Department has resolved to tackle head on all the social ills, including drugs and weapons, bedevilling schools.

In a campaign called My Life, My Future, officially launched yesterday, the 240 schools identified as hotspots will get special emphasis.

Education officials, teachers and principals, teacher unions, school governing body representatives and other stakeholders gathered at Umlazi Comtech School for the launch. Pupils in the Umlazi district were bused to the event.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu told the audience, “We are gathered here today to declare that we feel threatened … by the extent to which our people are affected by social ills and the prospect of our teachers and learners being affected and infected.

“We are troubled by the high numbers of HIV and Aids amongst teenagers in the province, alcohol and drug abuse and high learner pregnancy as well as factors that contribute to the state of uncertainty of the future of KwaZulu-Natal.”

Mchunu listed the number of pregnant pupils in each school district. The rural districts of Obonjeni and Vryheid had the highest pregnancy rates last year, at 2 229 and 2 153 respectively.

Mchunu didn’t mince his words.

“We want you not to have sex at all … but if you are already on the bandwagon, at least use protection. It might be nice for five minutes, but you will die early.

“Tea with four teaspoons of sugar is nice but you can drink it with one teaspoon and live longer,” he said.

Mchunu told The Witness afterwards that the gathering started after noon so that pupils could attend at least some lessons.

Their attendance at the launch was not a waste of time, he said, since they are a critical component of the campaign.

Whether all the pupils were really paying attention is in doubt. Many were seen loitering while others chatted in groups.

All the same, they could probably name every performer, including Big Nuz, Tizozo Hlengiwe Mhlaba and Ukhozi Fm DJ Linda Sibiya, who came to entertain them after the event.

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