Newborn baby precedes a PhD
HERE’S multi-taskers and then there’s Franaaz Khan.
The Morningside university lecturer, who’s used to juggling responsibilities and tasks, gave birth to her first child recently, capping off the eventful week by becoming a doctor of philosophy.
The 35-year-old PhD graduate is thankful everything worked out well.
“I had a natural birth and I think it was planned for me to give birth to Nurah first, then I could attend my ceremony (last Wednesday),” she said. “I was not ready to miss it for anything.”
Khan lectures full-time at the University of KwaZuluNatal, where she obtained her degree.
Her thesis is on the legal and policy implications of pupil pregnancies in South Africa.
It took six years to complete the study.
“It was mentally, emotionally and physically draining,” she said. “I went to 13 public secondary schools across the province and one school in Pretoria that caters for pregnant mothers. I sat with young girls and they shared their experiences of how they were treated because they were pregnant or had just given birth. I clearly remember one girl telling me her teacher had a chart on the board about studying at university and she looked at the girl and said, ‘but you don’t worry you’re already pregnant’.
“So to hear these stories and see how hard it is for young girls really tore at my heartstrings and made me want to use my study towards uplifting them.”
Khan said she was surprised to find an increase in the number of pregnant pupils at the schools she visited. Her study recommended more schools be built specifically for pregnant teenagers so they can learn together without the hassle of being judged by their peers.
“The school that I visited in Pretoria allows pregnant teenagers to stay there and learn, and they also offer assistance. The girls told me being in a school like that helped them not only with their confidence but they were not stressed out about being judged. But, unfortunately that school has recently been closed,” she said.
Khan vowed to continue to work towards uplifting young teen mothers.
Dr Franaaz Khan with her daughter, Nurah.
Dr Franaaz Khan at her graduation ceremony.