Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has welcomed the declining trend in teenage and learner pregnancies in South Africa.
Committee Chairperson Ms Nomalungelo Gina said: “We are excited that the trends are going down, but even so, we are still worried. One teenage pregnancy is one school pregnancy too many.”
The Committee today received a briefing from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health on prevention and management of learner pregnancy. The Committee heard that a study by the Human Sciences Research Council was release in 2012. This study pointed to a decline in teenage fertility rates over the past five decades. However, despite this decline, the study said unintended teenage pregnancies remain unacceptably high.
The Committee heard that 16% of women aged 15-19 in South Africa have begun childbearing, with the highest being in the Northern Cape and North West (20%) and the lowest in the Western Cape (8%), according to the South African Demographic and Health Survey of 2016. The DBE Annual School Survey data indicated that 15 504 pregnant learners are in school.
“This is a societal ill. We have heard about the key drivers of teenage pregnancy, which include gender-based violence, inter-generational and transactional relationships (the “blesser” phenomenon), low use of contraceptives, poverty, orphanhood and risky sexual behaviour. The community needs to stand together to fight this ill. The welfare and future of our young is at stake and we cannot leave them to fall into the poverty trap, which at times comes with teenage pregnancy,” said Ms Gina.
Ms Gina pointed to the importance of greater collaboration: the working and planning together of all departments involved in this matter. “We cannot work in silos. We need to work together to protect our youth.”
The Committee further welcomed the directive by the DBE that stringent vetting will occur for all people working with children. “This is a start and a good measure to look after the safety of our children,” said Ms Gina.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Nomalungelo Gina