Multiple facets lend to teen pregnancies
Parents called to fight against the scourge
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.