Johannesburg - The extent to which South Africa's social grant system influenced teenage pregnancy must be probed, North West premier Thandi Modise said on Thursday.

“The contribution of the social grant system to this phenomenon needs to be investigated,” Modise said in a statement.

She was responding to a report in the Sowetan that a school in the province asked the parents of at least 17 pregnant pupils to be on stand-by in case their daughters went into labour.

“If more children were born to parents who are ready and able to care for them, there would be a significant reduction in a host of social problems afflicting children,” Modise said.

While socio-economic circumstances contributed to high rates of teenage pregnancy, Modise said there were other relevant factors that needed to be taken into account.

“It calls to question, who is the role model? What is the impact of post-1994 legislation, and just what is the role of the family these days?”

Teenage pregnancy negatively impacted on the emancipation of women, and raised questions about South Africa's moral fabric.

If unplanned pregnancies were bought under control, there would be a reduction in other social problems, such as crime and child abuse, Modise said.

Earlier, the Sowetan reported North West education department spokeswoman Bayanda Zenzile as saying that 17 pupils, aged between 14 and 18, at Barolong High School in Mahikeng were pregnant.

Several parents were waiting outside the school, ready to help their daughters should they go into labour.

However, several parents expressed misgivings as they had to miss work or did not have the skills or resources to help in case their daughters went into labour.

A staff member told the paper that one student had already given birth at the school. She said pregnancies made the work of teachers more difficult, as pregnant pupils may fall asleep during examinations. - Sapa