A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that 20 000 children in primary and secondary school fell pregnant last year.
I will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, to summon the Basic Education Minister, Ms Angie Motshekga, for a parliamentary briefing on the Department’s plans to discourage teenage pregnancy.
The most recent five-year strategic plan suggests that the DBE has started work on a pregnancy policy but there does not seem to be any urgency to implement it.
Family planning services, incentives to complete education before falling pregnant, and public education programmes to discourage intergenerational and unprotected sex all form part of these urgently required plans.
What is of further concern is that the number of girls who return to school after having their babies is not known.
Education is key to future success and without it, these young people will not have a fair chance at a better life.
Recent remarks by President Zuma that teenage mothers should be separated from their children and banished to Robben Island are irresponsible and offer no constructive contribution on how to tackle this issue.
The DBE would do well to emulate the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) which has developed a policy on Managing Pregnancy in Public Schools designed to ensure that pregnant learners complete their schooling.
The policy provides step-by-step guidelines to schools on how to manage learner pregnancy and the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, including the learner, the learner’s parents, the father, if the father is another learner, and the school. The Department treats pregnant learners sensitively with access to counselling by social workers and psychologists based in district offices.
The WCED also works with other departments such as Health and Social Development to provide appropriate support.
Teenage pregnancy is a serious problem in South Africa and must be constructively and comprehensively addressed.
The DBE has a responsibility to the children of this country and should urgently institute plans aimed at decreasing the incidence of pregnancy in schools.
Issued by DA