Teen pregnancies down by 20%

13 March 2013 - 03:42

The number of pregnant Gauteng pupils dropped by 20% between 2008 and 2011, the provincial education department said yesterday.

But teenage pregnancy remains a major concern, said MEC Barbara Creecy.

"Schoolgirl pregnancy undermines the department's efforts to ensure that girls remain in school until matric and leave with a better chance of success in adult life," Creecy said.

Statistics compiled by the department of health show that 4217 of 1040760 schoolgirls became pregnant in 2011 compared to 4874 of 953170 in 2008.

The principal of Badirile Secondary School, in Carletonville, on the West Rand, Thabang Dhlamini, said religious education had to become more prominent in schools.

"Schools might initiate religious studies but the department should be more ardent about how they are carried out.

"We have a huge problem of lost values and morals among pupils - and solid religious education from primary school level could just be the answer," said Dhlamini.

Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre researcher and political analyst Lisa Vetten said there was huge social pressure on women to become pregnant.

"Women, especially those in rural areas, are put under pressure by families and their partners into having children or to prove their fertility."

Vetten said that when she recommended that schools provide support such as breast-feeding centres and creches for young mothers she encountered huge resistance.

Three teachers at Thuto-Lesedi Secondary, in Vosloorus, on the East Rand, who did not want to be named, said peer pressure was a major cause of teen pregnancies, along with myths about sex and contraceptives.

"I was surprised to hear that pupils believed acne break-outs were caused by lack of sex.

"This is not true," said a life orientation teacher.