Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu will on Saturday hold dialogues with teenage mothers and their parents at Ndwedwe, north of Durban, to highlight and address the problem of teenage pregnancy in the area.
The dialogues, which form part of Women’s Month activities, seeks to highlight critical issues facing young women in rural areas, and also form part of the comprehensive intervention plan initiated by Bogopane-Zulu targeting this area.
Other interventions include the construction of a newly-built state of the art Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for children with disabilities and the renovation of an additional 10 ECD facilities.
During a community outreach programme conducted by the Deputy Minister in Ndwedwe in 2017, parents and local authorities raised the issue of teenage pregnancy as a huge developmental concern.
What is of great concern is that some of the girl learners who fall pregnant do not return to complete their schooling, which has a long lasting impact on generations of young parents and their children, and often leads to intergenerational cycle of poverty.
In 2017, statistics released by the Department of Basic Education showed that primary school learners, as young as between grade 3 and 7 were reported to have fallen pregnant.
Bogopane-Zulu said this raises serious legal questions as most of these learners are still minors in terms of the Children’s Act and any form of sexual activity constitutes statutory rape.
“It is worth recognising that a significant number of men who impregnate the young learners are much older and yet their role and responsibility is often ignored. Besides dealing with pregnancy and its complications at such a tender age, young learners are exposed to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS,” the Deputy Minister said.
The Deputy Minister said that the dialogues are part of the implementation of the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Framework Strategy that seeks to address challenges relating to sexual and reproductive health, and rights of young people.
The dialogues will culminate in a community based plan that will include teenage a pregnancy prevention programme, care and support services for teenage parents to realise their right to education and keeping teenage mothers in school. – SAnews.gov.za