Help needed on teen preg­nancy

KWAZULU-NATAL: Sub­stance abuse and vi­o­lence also ma­jor con­cern at schools

Weekend Witness - - News - GABISILE NGCOBO

IN 2011, 400 fewer school­girls fell preg­nant in KwaZulu-Natal than in 2010.

How­ever, with the re­duced fig­ure sit­ting at 10 595, and the 2012 num­bers still be­ing tal­lied, the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment is con­cerned; con­cerned enough that it has en­listed the help of other government de­part­ments to tackle the three main so­ci­etal is­sues fac­ing young­sters: teenage preg­nancy, sub­stance abuse and vi­o­lence.

Speak­ing at the province’s first So- cial Ills Con­fer­ence in Dur­ban yes­ter­day, Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Senzo Mchunu said 666 pupils in the Ama­juba District had fallen preg­nant in 2011. This, he said, was a large num­ber.

How­ever, Ama­juba had recorded fewer than half the preg­nan­cies counted in the Vry­heid District, which had the high­est num­ber of teen moth­ers in 2011, with 1 752.

The MEC said the large num­bers wor­ried him.

“More than 10 000 chil­dren get preg­nant. You can’t put them in a bus go­ing any­where; you need trains.”

Mchunu said the num­bers also had im­pli­ca­tions for HIV/Aids statis­tics. It was ap­par­ent that the 10 000 chil­dren who fell preg­nant were not us­ing con­doms, he said.

“It’s go­ing to be very hard to win the war on HIV and Aids if chil­dren in [school] uni­form get preg­nant.”

Mchunu also slammed teach­ers who force chil­dren into re­la­tion­ships.

“You can’t ap­proach a 14-year-old child if you’re a teacher and say you love her,” he said, adding that they would pur­sue teach­ers who preyed on their pupils “se­ri­ously”.

He said preg­nan­cies also contrib- uted to the dropout rate at KwaZu­luNatal schools.

Mchunu also told the con­fer­ence — which was at­tended by teach­ers, NGOs, school gov­ern­ing bod­ies, tra­di­tional lead­ers, Arts, Cul­ture, Sports and Recre­ation MEC Ntombikayise Sib­hidla-Saphetha and So­cial Devel­op­ment MEC Weziwe Thusi — of in­ci­dents where pupils were caught drink­ing al­co­hol dur­ing breaks, chil­dren as young as 13 be­ing hooked on dagga, and chil­dren sell­ing drugs and car­ry­ing weapons at schools.

Mchunu asked all stake­hold­ers present to help ad­dress the preg­nancy, sub­stance abuse and vi­o­lence is­sues be­cause his de­part­ment could not do it alone.

Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment head Nkosi­nathi Sishi said the report from the con­fer­ence would be tabled be­fore the KZN cab­i­net next month so that th­ese is­sues and pro­pos­als be­come a government agenda.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the South African Coun­cil for Educators, Reg Bri­jraj, said 95% of teach­ers that were struck from the coun­cil’s roll were those who had had re­la­tion­ships with pupils.

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