Cape Town - The National Department of Basic Education (DBE) has urged society to play its part in ending the high rate of teenage pregnancies.
The department made the call after Minister Angie Motshekga this week released shocking statistics from the Department of Health which showed a rise in pregnancies among young girls.
Girls from the age of 10 up to 19 have fallen pregnant, according to the figures.
Motshekga revealed this when replying to a Parliamentary question posed by DA MP Chantel King.
Speaking to Independent Media, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga described teenage pregnancies as a social ill which, he said, was something that could not be fought by the department alone.
“It is about time that society takes this matter seriously. You can’t leave it to schools,” Mhlanga said.
KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng lead with the high number of pregnancies.
In her written response, Motshekga furnished King this week with data from the Department of Health’s district information health system on teenage births at health facilities.
Motshekga said the report showed that the number of births by teenagers in all nine provinces stood at 124628 in June 2009, up from 117055 recorded in 2017-18.
“A total of 3 529 deliveries were reported among 10 to 14-year-olds and 121 099 among 15 to 19-year-olds respectively,” Motshekga said.
KZN recorded the highest number of pregnancies among girls between 15 and 19 at 34 482, followed by the Eastern Cape at 16 742, Limpopo 16 210 and Gauteng 14 501.
Mpumalanga recorded 11 229 pregnancies, Western Cape 10 675, North West 7 700, Free State 5 618 and Northern Cape 3 942 in the same age group.
Among those aged 10 to 14, KZN topped the list with 989 pregnancies followed by Mpumalanga at 590, the Eastern Cape 425 and Gauteng 41.
In the same age group, Limpopo recorded 377, Western Cape 312, Free State 161, North West 157 and Northern Cape 99.
Mhlanga said the government was gravely worried about the figures.
“It seems that the country is not paying attention to our children.
“There are also cases of statutory rapes of under-aged children, but no action was taken,” Mhlanga said.
“From our side, we do what we can by providing the information and incorporating it into our curriculum to create awareness on HIV and unwanted pregnancies.”
Mhlanga noted that some of the teenagers had dropped out of school after falling pregnant, and the report from the Health Department showed many were of school-going age.
Mhlanga said that the department had just last month launched an awareness programme on unwanted and early pregnancies, which also targeted pupils.