School­girl preg­nancy shocker

Study re­veals cases of ed­u­ca­tors hav­ing sex­ual re­la­tions with girls

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO khaya.koko@inl.co.za

SEX­UAL mis­con­duct by ed­u­ca­tors played a role in the stag­ger­ing 4 446 school­girls who fell preg­nant in Gaut­eng last year, the provin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment has con­firmed.

These alarm­ing sta­tis­tics of school­girl preg­nan­cies, which in­cluded a Grade 5 pupil from Ekurhu­leni, were an­nounced by Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi.

The depart­ment’s spokesper­son Oupa Bodibe ac­knowl­edged that sex­ual mis­con­duct by ed­u­ca­tors played a role in these dis­turb­ing fig­ures.

“Ac­cord­ing to our records, 61 cases of sex­ual mis­con­duct have been re­ported over the past three years. So far, 23 teach­ers have been fired for mis­con­duct in­volv­ing learn­ers,” he said.

Asked about in­ter­ven­tions that the depart­ment in­tended to pur­sue, Bodibe said they were work­ing with the Matthew Goniwe School of Lead­er­ship to con­duct train­ing for all school­based sup­port teams (SBSTs) in the prov­ince. This, he added, was to as­sist in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and re­port­ing of abuse.

“Each prin­ci­pal re­ceives an SBST tool­kit, which in­cludes a copy of the pro­to­col doc­u­ment on the man­age­ment of con­firmed and sus­pected cases of child abuse. We can con­firm schools have psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices that are pro­vided by the SBST,” Bodibe ex­plained.

Le­sufi’s stats are bro­ken down into the 15 dif­fer­ent re­gions in the prov­ince. Re­gions in Ekurhu­leni were the worst af­fected, with an as­ton­ish­ing 1 289 learn­ers falling preg­nant. Tsh­wane re­gions came in sec­ond with a com­bined total of 1 136.

The MEC as­serted on Twit­ter: “We are not win­ning in our bat­tle against teenage preg­nancy within the school­ing en­vi­ron­ment in Gaut­eng! I’m ter­ri­fied.”

The worst af­fected grades in terms of preg­nan­cies are Grade 11 (1 336), Grade 12 (1 260) and Grade 10 (1 110).

At pri­mary school level, a total of 39 school­girls fell preg­nant last year.

Grade 8 and 9 learn­ers ac­counted for 213 and 486 preg­nan­cies re­spec­tively.

This fol­lows an an­nounce­ment by Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga, who said ear­lier this year that, na­tion­ally, 15 000 school­girls fell preg­nant dur­ing the 2015 aca­demic year.

Bodibe said the depart­ment had a num­ber of pro­grammes dis­cour­ag­ing early sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, including life ori­en­ta­tion pro­grammes on per­sonal well­be­ing and mother-daugh­ter di­a­logues that help teenagers to talk openly with their moth­ers about is­sues of sex­u­al­ity.

He did not, how­ever, re­spond to what en­gage­ments are done specif­i­cally for school­boys in de­ter­ring school preg­nan­cies.

In a re­port re­leased in 2009 about school preg­nan­cies cov­er­ing the pe­riod 2004 to 2008, Mot­shekga ac­knowl­edged that sex­ual ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and ma­tu­rity for learn­ers co­in­cided with their sec­ondary school­ing, adding: “For most, it re­mains at the level of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, and if sex oc­curs, in­di­ca­tions are that it is more likely to be pro­tected when young peo­ple are still at school.”

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