Committee hails decline in pregnancies among pupils
PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on basic education has welcomed the declining trend in pregnancies among school girls in South Africa.
“We are excited that the trends are going down, but even so, we are still worried. One teenage pregnancy is one school pregnancy too many,” according to committee chairperson Nomalungelo Gina.
This after a briefing from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health to the committee on the prevention and management of pregnancy among pupils.
The committee heard that a study by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2012 pointed to a decline in teenage fertility rates over the past five decades. However, despite this decline, the study said unintended teenage pregnancies remain unacceptably high.
The committee heard that 16% of women aged 15-19 in South Africa have begun bearing children, with the highest being in the Northern Cape and North West (20%) and the lowest in the Western Cape (8%), according to the South African Demographic and Health Survey of 2016.
The DBE Annual School Survey data indicated that 15504 pregnant pupils were in schools. “This is a societal ill. We have heard about the key drivers of teenage pregnancy, which include gender-based violence, inter-generational and transactional relationships (the blesser phenomenon), low use of contraceptives, poverty, orphanhood and risky sexual behaviour.
“The community needs to stand together to fight this ill.
“The welfare and future of our youth is at stake and we cannot leave them to fall into the poverty trap, which at times comes with teenage pregnancy,” Gina said.
Gina pointed to the importance of greater collaboration and the working and planning together of all departments involved in this matter.
“We cannot work in silos. We need to work together to protect our youth,” she said.
The committee further welcomed the directive by the DBE that stringent vetting will occur for all people working with children.