Mul­ti­ple facets lend to teen preg­nan­cies

Par­ents called to fight against the scourge

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE

PAR­ENTS, teach­ers and com­mu­nity lead­ers sin­gle out the blesser phe­nom­e­non, e-learn­ing and lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the high teenage preg­nancy rate in Ekurhuleni.

This fol­lows last month’s re­port of 4 446 school­girls re­ported to have been preg­nant in Gaut­eng schools last year and 1 289 be­ing from Ekurhuleni, mak­ing it the worst af­fected area in the prov­ince.

A di­a­logue was in­tended to take place last month to find so­lu­tions to the grow­ing teenage preg­nancy prob­lem in Ekurhuleni, con­vened by mayor Mzwandile Masina. How­ever, he was un­able to at­tend.

Masina had called a “par­ents ind­aba” to cre­ate a plat­form for par­ents, teach­ers and mem­bers of school gov­ern­ing bodies from Ekurhuleni schools to in­ter­act with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity with the aim of find­ing so­lu­tions to pre­vent teenage preg­nancy.

Se­nior ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist in Ekurhuleni North (pol­icy and plan­ning) Vanessa Boikhutso said it was im­por­tant that those try­ing to deal with this prob­lem work with the par­ents.

“Even though the child spends most of their time with us, the par­ents at home need to in­stil val­ues.

“In fact, the com­mu­nity, not only the par­ents, must in­stil val­ues.

“Par­ents need to play an im­por­tant and vi­tal role. We know that some par­ents are work­ing but that does not have to stop us from in­still­ing val­ues in our girl chil­dren. It’s never too late,” she said.

“Our cur­ricu­lum is do­ing a lot. Dur­ing the life ori­en­ta­tion pe­ri­ods, learn­ers dis­cuss is­sues that they deal with.

“And we have non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, youth and cor­po­rates who come to schools and give one-on-one, kasi-kasi lan­guage talks about th­ese things. It’s no longer a hid­den agenda,” said Boikhutso.

An­other se­nior ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist, Bev­er­ley Vi­lakazi, added that the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment had in­tro­duced e-learn­ing in most schools, which could be ei­ther a good or a bad thing.

“In as much as it is good and lovely, it has also opened up a can of worms in the sense that we are deal­ing with so many cases of pornog­ra­phy among school­child­ren.

“Kids have pornog­ra­phy on their phones and tablets,” said Vi­lakazi.

“We say it’s girls be­cause girls are the ones who are preg­nant, but who got them preg­nant?” she asked.

“In as much as we need to tar­get th­ese girls, we need to tar­get th­ese boys as well. A lot of par­ents don’t speak to their chil­dren or check their tablets and phones.

“As a kid, if I know that my par­ent is not go­ing to check my phone, I am go­ing to take those chances. I am go­ing to speak to strangers or do stuff that I am not sup­posed to be do­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, some par­ents are not play­ing their part,” she added.

Ac­cord­ing to Vi­lakazi, it’s ex­tremely alarm­ing to learn about the high rate of teenage preg­nancy in Ekurhuleni.

“You are get­ting kids at Grade 4 and 5 level who are preg­nant, and we are called by schools that we need to go out and do what we need to do and in­ter­vene.

“It (preg­nancy) af­fects their growth and also their aca­demic per­for­mance, and other kids are af­fected by it.”

Vi­lakazi and Boikhutso both em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of the com­mu­nity’s in­volve­ment.

“There are a lot of things that sur­round it, and I think cre­at­ing aware­ness and teach­ing our kids is the way to go, and it’s ex­tremely im­por­tant. Even though we are do­ing it, I don’t think we are do­ing it enough,” said Vi­lakazi.

Nontsha Nciza, an ex­pert on health and gen­der de­vel­op­ment, be­lieves sin­gling out teenage preg­nancy lim­its the ap­proach to solv­ing the prob­lem.

“When we look at teenage preg­nancy, we must look at the so­cial en­vi­ron­ment in which it’s oc­cur­ring. For ex­am­ple, if you have a so­ci­ety that has an al­co­hol prob­lem,” said Nciza.

“I don’t want to go into the is­sue of blessers and the like, but as par­ents, if we don’t have com­mu­nity-based de­vel­op­ment/health ser­vices, we’re go­ing to have a prob­lem,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Nciza, the youth in Ekurhuleni have to go to the lo­cal clin­ics to hear about sex­ual health in­stead of try­ing to get the in­for­ma­tion at home.

“To me, it’s a mis­nomer to even say we are de­liv­er­ing pri­mary health­care in the coun­try,” she said.

A par­ent, who re­quested to re­main anony­mous, told The Star that she strug­gled to dis­cuss sex­ual mat­ters with her teen es­pe­cially be­cause she was a sin­gle par­ent.

“I have a 16-year-old who is very cu­ri­ous about sex and I worry ev­ery day about if she will be wise to use pro­tec­tion. We all know that it’s not only the girl’s prob­lem when she falls preg­nant,” the con­cerned par­ent said.

“I see some school­child­ren walk­ing up and down the street drink­ing and get­ting drunk,” she added.

Ac­cord­ing to the mother, her big­gest fear is her daugh­ter com­ing home and telling her that she’s preg­nant.

The Star has made nu­mer­ous at­tempts to get a re­sponse from the mayor of Ekurhuleni re­gard­ing how he plans to re­duce the teenage preg­nancy rate, but he did not re­spond.



CON­CERN­ING: The high rate of teenage preg­nancy in school girls is wor­ry­ing, es­pe­cially in Ekurhuleni.

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