Education MEC must act to discourage pregnancy in primary schools

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Spokesperson on Education:

The DA is shocked to learn that Mpumalanga has one of the highest school pregnancy rates in South Africa.

 

This was revealed in a reply to questions posed to Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, by DA Mpumalanga Deputy Leader and Member of Parliament, Sonja Boshoff.

 

In the 2014 academic year, Mpumalanga had the second highest pregnancy rate in primary schools with 130 learners falling pregnant. The majority of these girls were 13 years old or under.

 

KT Twala Primary school in Govan Mbeki municipality had the highest amount of pregnant primary school girls with 13 learners, while Matimba Primary School in Mbombela municipality had 11 learners that fell pregnant in one year.

 

The province has the third highest pregnancy rate in secondary schools with 3 196 teenagers falling pregnant in the 2014 academic year.

 

Seme Secondary school in Pixley ka Seme municipality had the highest pregnancy rate with 77 learners falling pregnant while Mathipe secondary school in Bushbuckridge municipality recorded 49 pregnancies.

 

The majority of the schools that recorded a high number of pregnancies are lower quintile schools which are known to battle with infrastructure, discipline and educational challenges. This begs the question of what action plan the provincial Education MEC, Reginah Mhaule is undertaking to address this problem as the high learner pregnancy rate can’t be news to her and her office.

 

The high number of primary school learners falling pregnant is exceptionally concerning as these children are unlikely to be able to look after their babies, let alone stay in school up to matric. It is also concerning because these pregnancies could be a sign of sexual crimes taking place either at home or at school.

 

The DA will submit questions to MEC Mhaule asking for a detailed action plan on how she intends to discourage scholars from falling pregnant. We will also ask the MEC to explain whether or not teachers in Mpumalanga are vetted against the Child Protection Register and for the MEC to tell us how many teachers have been dismissed due to sexual crimes against learners.

 

The time has come to identify and deal with the real cause of teenage pregnancy, rather than the department’s feeble attempt of addressing the consequences and symptoms thereof. More support must be provided to learners, especially those in lower quintile schools because not only are they burdened with socio-economic challenges but they bear the brunt of the education department’s failures.