Com­mit­tee hails de­cline in preg­nan­cies among pupils

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - News - SHONISANI TSHIKANGE shon­isanit@the­newage.co.za

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.

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