By Anthony Benadie MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:
Teenage pregnancy in Mpumalanga schools appears to be out of control and the department of education (DOE) must provide both teachers and learners with the necessary education and resources to prevent this from escalating.
Learner pregnancy is also a societal challenge and requires commitment from communities as indicated by the department of education in a written response to a DA question, however families and the whole of society, especially the Education department, must ensure that sexual education and counselling are provided in schools.
Below is an indication of the top 10 highest pregnancies recorded in Mpumalanga’s secondary schools – in the 2014 academic year.
|MP||Mathipe Secondary School||49|
|MP||Seme Secondary School||77|
|MP||Msinyane Combined Secondary School||47|
|MP||Makause Combined School||43|
|MP||Lambalati Secondary School||42|
|MP||Chayaza Secondary School||41|
|MP||Camalaza Secondary School||41|
|MP||M.L. Nkuna High School||39|
|MP||Sitintile Secondary School||37|
|MP||Amadlelo Aluhlaza Secondary School||36|
The DA is concerned though, that the department claims that teenagers do not fall pregnant at schools – as schools are centres of learning.
The department must ensure as part of an education drive, that condoms available to learners are distributed responsibly so that learners practice safe-sex if they are sexually active.
A whole of society approach is indeed needed where everyone is equally committed to preventing teen pregnancy. A Strong societal structures including families are at the core of preventing the teenage pregnancy.
According to a study done in 2012 by the National Department of Social Development, the factors as to why teenagers fall pregnant include: Ignorance of consequences, Curiosity, Experimentation, Peer Pressure, Poverty and financial constraints, School absenteeism, Alcohol and substance abuse and venerability to exploitative sexual relationships.
But it is very concerning that in the past three years, no less than 20 teachers in Mpumalanga have reportedly had sexual relations with learners, while just four social workers were employed to handle 978 617 Learners in public and special schools across the province. This is according to the DOE’s written response.
In a glaring contradiction, the Education Department claims that it refers sexual counselling issues to the Social Development Department, but the Social Development Department claims that the Education Department provides its own counsellors.
It appears that neither department will take responsibility for this critically important function. Our vulnerable learners are suffering while the departments confuse themselves.
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.