Schoolgirl pregnancy shocker
Study reveals cases of educators having sexual relations with girls
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.”