THE national Department of Basic Education has revealed that girls in the Eastern Cape (EC) get pregnant from as early as grade 5 while in some provinces, reports of girls in Grade 3 having been impregnated, have been received.
Responding to a parliamentary question by the DA about the number of pupils who fell pregnant per grade, Minister Angie Motsekga in 2014 a total of 527 pupils were pregnant in the EC. This comprised of five grade sixes, 16 grade sevens and 42 grade eights, 67 grade nines, 99 grade 10s, 164 grade 11s and 134 grade 12s. In KwaZulu Natal (KZN), Mpumalanga (MP) and Nothern Cape (NC) children from grade 3 were impregnated in the same period.
Gauteng(GP) led with 5 217 pregnancies, MP 3 438 and KZN 3 039, Western Cape (WC) 2 864, Northern Cape (NC) 1 119 and North West (NW) 953. The Free State (FS) was at number seven with 765 followed by Limpopo (LP) with 663 and EC 527.
In 2015 GP topped the list again with 5 246 followed by WC with 2 891 and MP 2 770, KZN had 2 408, LP 909 and FS 694, NW had 274, EC 243 and NC with 69. In the EC there were two in grade 5 and 6 respectively, six in grade 7 and 19 in grade 8. There were 26 pregnant pupils in grade 9, 49 in grade 10, 82 in grade 11 and 57 in grade 12.
GP again led in 2016 with 4 366 pregnancies, WC 2 429 and LP 828, FS had 487, NW 359, NC 157 and EC 106. No results for MP and KZN were available for this year. Nationally, 11 grade 3 pupils were pregnant in 2014, seven in 2015 and two in 2016. A grade 3 pupil is about nine years old
Motsekga said 65 680 cases of pupil pregnancy were reported in the 2013/14 period, 53 617 in 2014/15 and 51 895 in the 2015/16 period.
“Teenage pregnancy impacts the lives of thousands of young people, often limiting their personal growth, the pursuit of rewarding careers and their ambitions, with incalculable impact on South Africa’s socio economic systems. Pregnant (pupils) undermine the Department of Basic Education’s endeavor to ensure that all (pupils) remain in school for the duration of their schooling, especially girls so that they can have an opportunity to improve their quality of life,” Motsekga said.
A National Policy for the Prevention Management of Learner Pregnancy has been approved. It seeks to address the high rates of pregnancy among pupils, the familial and social context within which this occurs, options for reduction of unintended and unwanted pregnancies and management of pre and post natal implications. Motsekga said the policy also addresses the limitation of associated stigma and discrimination and, importantly, the retention and re-enrolment of affected pupils in school.
She said it ensures accessible provision of information on prevention, choice of termination of pregnancy, care, counseling and support. The policy commits the basic education system and other role players to provide the comprehensive sexuality education crucial to optimal sexual and reproductive health.