Pregnancy policies challenged in ConCourt

2013-03-04 21:03

Johannesburg - Two Free State schools' pregnancy policies will be challenged in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

This follows a challenge by the Free State department of education, which believes it is unconstitutional to not allow a pupil who has given birth to return to school in the same year, and that they must redo the year.

According to papers submitted ahead of the application, the issue arose as a result of the policies of Welkom High School and Harmony High School.

In terms of their pregnancy policies pupils who fall pregnant may not be readmitted to school in the year that they give birth, and must repeat a year of schooling.

This is irrespective of the health of the pupils, and their and their parents' wishes, as well as their capacity to catch up on missed school work.

The education department tried to intervene, on the grounds that the policies were in breach of Section nine of the Constitution and violated the pupils' right to education.

The head of the education department had issued instructions to the schools to readmit the pupils, in terms of the Employment of Educators Act and in terms of Section seven of the Constitution to "act positively to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the fundamental rights protected in the Bill of Rights".

This saved the pupils affected by the application from exclusion from school for the balance of 2010, and from having to repeat their 2010 school year in 2011.

But the schools contended this infringed the powers of the school governing bodies.

The matter was taken to the Free State High Court, which ruled it could not consider the constitutionality of the pregnancy policies without a counter application from the department for an order declaring the pregnancy policies unconstitutional and invalid.

It also held that the head of department had no legal power to act as he did, and that his instructions to the principals violated the constitutional principle of legality.

The only remedy available to the head of department was to call on the governing body to change its policy. If the governing body refused, the head could apply to the high court for an order.

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the head of department's appeal.

The education department is challenging the matter in the Constitutional Court on four grounds: that the courts below assumed incorrectly that a governing body is competent to adopt a pregnancy policy at its school; that it fails to take into account the employment relationship between the head of department as employer, and the principal as employee; it ignores the obligation of the State not, through its employees, to act unconstitutionally; and that it fails to take account of the responsibilities of the courts themselves to protect fundamental rights.

Lobby group Equal Education is among the friends of the court that have been admitted to the case.

According to the court papers the respondents ultimately accepted that the pupils could return to their schools.

The department however believes the case illustrates the unconstitutionality of the schools' pregnancy policies.

  • Anton Meiring - 2013-03-04 21:19

    Objective 1 try to prevent pregnancy in highschool

      Fikile Ndlovu - 2013-03-04 21:47

      We are looking at the wrong side, a grade 7 and 8 pupil is only 11 and 12 years and commonly fathers are above youth above 18 years and even mature adults. Why is the society not condemning the people who are abusing children, and only want to hold children accountable? When does a child stop being a child. The day we enforce the statutory rape aw in this country with the full might of the law, every child who is below 15 and pregnant, the perpetrator must be charged finish and klaar.

      Adeline Groenewald - 2013-03-04 22:28

      Handing out condoms at school only says we are ok with out kids having sex. We should instead be, as parents, teaching our kids to abstain....... Yes it seems 'old fashioned' but rather that and our kids still have their pride in tact. I have delt with moms who want their daughters pregies so they can collect gov subsidies, sis.

  • Thebelele Maimela Magagane - 2013-03-04 21:23

    This teenage pregnancy is too much even grade 7 & 8 learners, it's tough. they must stay home.

  • Lungisa Nhlakanipho Zondi - 2013-03-04 21:54

    Child sexual abuse is forbidden in South Africa and a child under SA constitution is defined as someone under that age of 18. The legal age for kids to view sex videos and pictures is 18 because then they would considered to be adults, in this evil country! Same constitution allows school kids to have sex at the age of 16. Many of these kids get pregnant at the ages between 12-15 and I see no law being applied since an offense has been committed. Instead these children get away with committing a crime by being allow to stay at school, encouraging other to do the same. Then we wonder why this country has so much rape or sex offense?? ANC have destroyed the moral nerve of our people with their stupid contradictory laws.

  • Adrian van der Merwe - 2013-03-04 21:59

    Stop wasting time and just give everybody free grade 12 certificates!!

  • Nizole Middle-Finger Khala - 2013-03-04 22:01

    Making babies is going to be difficult folks as we have to apply for pregnancy permit from Home Affairs that will allow mating for 24 hours!!

  • BraSteve Myaluze - 2013-03-04 22:07

    They are not being denied a right to education; its not like they are being expelled totally.

  • Jacques - 2013-03-04 23:23

    Jeepers. High schools with pregnancy policies. Roll on the 21st century.

      koos.vandermerwe.75 - 2013-03-05 07:42

      Was thinking the same thing. Where are the good old days when you went to school to learn.

  • Winifred Watson - 2013-03-05 07:31

    Girls throwing their lives away before they have had a chance to fully educate themselves. Low morals is all I can say. Boys or rather men too old to be in school are the biggest culprits. Hormones raging instead of applying themselves to study.

  • June Francis - 2013-03-05 10:05

    Govt needs to stop fixing the small issues and fix the main problem , which is teenage pregnancy. There are girls in high schools south of JHB, where girls are having their second children while still in school. Its so sad because these kids and the children born to them have very little chance of having a bright furure. Parents be parents to your daughters/sons, acceptable sexual promiscuity amongst children is not acceptable and should not be encouraged.

  • flynn.govender - 2013-03-05 10:56

    Pupils should not be pregnant in the first place

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