1 in 3 pregnant girls aged between 10 and 19 do not return to school, Parliament hears

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One in three girls aged between 10 and 19 years in SA fall pregnant and do not return to school.
One in three girls aged between 10 and 19 years in SA fall pregnant and do not return to school.
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  • According to the Department of Basic Education, there was a significant increase in teen pregnancies. 
  • The department said HIV was also prevalent among young women. 
  • It added there was a need for multi-sectoral approach to solve the issue. 

One in three girls aged between 10 and 19 years in South Africa fall pregnant and do not return to school, a presentation by the Department of Basic Education to Parliament has shown.

According to the department, they then experience multiple pregnancies after their first. 

Adolescent girls and young women made up 12.67% of the country's population and were said to be the "most vulnerable cohort", the presentation stated.

On Tuesday, the department briefed Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on its role in attending to pupil pregnancies.

According to the presentation, this cohort faced "complex and serious challenges during the course of their lives: poverty, HIV and STI infection and a range of health-related issues, early and unintended pregnancy, gender-based violence [GBV], rape and abuse".

READ | Gauteng records more than 23 000 teen pregnancies in one year, some moms as young as 10

teenage pregnancy
Screenshot from DBE presentation.

Lack of sex education for girls and boys was noted as one of the reasons contributing to teenage pregnancies. 

At least 4.4 million young girls in South Africa were living with HIV.

This, according to the department, was 23% of the global average of 19.1 million. 

Young girls and women were four times more likely to be affected by HIV compared to young men, according to the report. 

Meanwhile, approximately 1 300 young girls and women in South Africa are infected with HIV per week. 

The department's statistics presented to Parliament have also shown girls were prone to high levels of sexually transmitted infections.

teenage pregnancy
Screenshot from DBE presentation.

Systemic vulnerabilities

The statistics showed rape, child abuse and gender-based violence were highly prevalent and contributed to teenage pregnancies. 

"Approximately 33% of girls [do] not return to school after falling pregnant and are likely to experience multiple pregnancies. The complexities that underlie teen pregnancy are many."

ALSO READ | Pregnant in school? This is how South African law protects pupils

The department said the issue needed a multi-sectoral approach so children could be protected when they were not at school. 

This meant systemic vulnerabilities and structural drivers must be addressed, it added in the presentation.

teenage pregnancy
Screenshot from DBE presentation.
teenage pregnancy.
Screenshot from DBE presentation.
teenage pregnancy.
Screenshot from DBE presentation.
teenage pregnancy.
Screenshot from DBE presentation.

HIV incidence

The multi-sectoral approach included support from, among others, health and, justice, women and social development departments.

Civil society, including parents, religious and traditional leaders, would need to also come to the party in addressing teenage pregnancy, the department said. 

"There is a need to address structural barriers, issues of poverty, and particularly issues of rape, GBV and transactional sex," it added. 

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