Children having children in the Free State

While statistics show that there has been a decline in teen pregnancies, Free State remains the province with the second highest number of reported teen pregnancies. PHOTO: Lebohang Mashiloane

Twenty seven primary school learners in the Free State between grade 3 and grade 7 were reported to have fallen pregnant in 2016.
This is according to Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education. She provided these statistics while responding to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance recently, relating to the numbers of learners who fall pregnant in schools per grade.
According to Howard Ndaba, spokesperson for the Free State Department of Education, while learner pregnancy is a challenge in the province, a number of strategies are in place.”
Among these strategies are awareness campaigns which focuses on dialogues between schools, parents, and learners about reproductive health. These are followed by strategies in peer education where camps are held in various districts and learners are given information on HIV/AIDS, risky behaviour, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. The last strategy the department employs is teacher training, which focuses on enabling teachers to offer age appropriate and correct information to learners, in line with the school curriculum for them to understand sexuality education.
The statistics Motshekga provided, were issued in a media release on the Presidency’s website and show that the Free State is the province with the second highest number of learner pregnancies, with 487 reported cases in 2016.
The 2016 total figure, however, has decreased from the 2015 figure, which showed that 694 learners fell pregnant in that year. To address the challenge of teen pregnancies in the country, Motshekga says, “The Council of Education has approved a national Policy for the prevention and management of learner pregnancy. The policy will address the familial and social contexts within which these pregnancies occur and which also provide options for reduction of unwanted pregnancies and most importantly, the retention and re-enrolment of affected learners in the school.” – Pulane Choane