Seven Grade 3 pupils fell pregnant in KwaZulu-Natal in the 2010-2011 period, the provincial Education Department revealed in a startling set of statistics detailing schoolgirl pregnancies yesterday.
The statistics show the grades of the pregnant girls and how many in each year were pregnant.
Apart from the Grade 3s (who range in age from eight to 11 years old), there were 19 girls in Grade 4, 40 in Grade 5, 129 in Grade 6 and 313 in Grade 7 who fell pregnant.
In total, 508 primary school pupils fell pregnant, while more than 13 000 pupils fell pregnant altogether.
Two weeks ago, Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said the issue of pregnant schoolgirls was becoming a crisis.
Mchunu said it was increasingly reported that male teachers were forcing themselves on girls. He also told reporters that parents were accepting bribes from teachers who raped their children.
A number of teachers have been dismissed this year for involvement in love affairs with pupils, but, instead of abating, the trend seems to be getting worse.
Department of Education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi told The Mercury that the official policy on admissions was that children could enter Grade 1 from the age of six.
“When pupils are getting pregnant at Grade 3, it is really worrying for us, and that is why the department released these figures,” he said.
“It is a national crisis. The problem is not in KZN alone – other provinces are hiding their stats,” he said.
Mahlambi said the crisis could be discussed at this week’s ANC policy conference by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
“I heard the minister speak about it. This is an issue that the country cannot ignore.”