State calls for help as pregnancies rise

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Copy of pregnant teens ING File photo: Lebohang Mashiloane

More than 160 000 teen pregnancies were recorded in two years, according to Statistics SA, and the Department of Basic Education says it can’t solve the problem on its own.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga told Parliament in a written reply that although her department had taken “an active role” regarding teenage pregnancy, “it is a battle that requires active involvement of stakeholders, including our sister departments, civil society, (the) faith community and organised business”.

She said the department was trying to combat the problem through various programmes, including peer education through the Girls and Boys Education Movement.

NGOs had also partnered with the government.

Resources Aimed at the Prevention and Child Abuse and Neglect had helped in piloting the Care for a Doll programme in two provinces. Pupils were given dolls to look after for several days, to teach them about parenting responsibilities.

Stats SA recorded 160 754 cases of teenage pregnancy between July 2008 and July 2010, Motshekga said.

Delia Engle, spokeswoman for the NGO Afrika Tikkun, said that not only was teenage pregnancy a pressing matter, but child pregnancies in primary schools were also becoming more frequent. Unemployment added to the problem because girls were falling pregnant under the illusion that the state child support grant would be enough to provide for the needs of the family.

Motshekga said her department was working on drafting regulations on pupil pregnancy to guide schools on how best to deal with it.

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