Parents, pupils and interested parties have one more day to make their voices heard on the Department of Basic Education’s learner pregnancy in schools policy.
A key feature of the policy asserts the Constitutional rights of pregnant learners to continue and complete their basic education without stigma or discrimination.
“The end of July marks the closing of the second round of public comments for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools policy. There is one more day for those who have yet to participate in this process to do so by end of business tomorrow (31 July 2018),” said the Department of Basic Education.
For its part, the school is required to accommodate the reasonable needs of the learner to ensure that her right to education is not disrupted or ended by pregnancy or birth.
Earlier this year, the department issued a gazette in which it invited comments from stakeholder bodies and members of the public on the policy.
The department then created another opportunity for public comment as requested by some stakeholders.
“The Department of Basic Education appreciates all comments that have been received in this second window for public comments. We are pleased that those who did not have an opportunity to comment six months ago when the document was first issued for public comment, have now had an opportunity to do so.
“All comments will be taken into consideration for the final draft of the policy,” said the department.
The policy is in light of the high rate of learner pregnancy in South Africa which has become a major social, systemic and fiscal challenge not only for the basic education sector but, crucially, for national development in general.
“It impacts the lives of many young people often limiting their personal growth, the pursuit of rewarding careers and their ambitions with incalculable impact on the country’s socio-economic systems,” the department said.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education policy
This policy also seeks to ensure the accessible provision of information on prevention; choice of termination of pregnancy; care, counselling and support; frameworks for impact mitigation; and guidelines for systemic management and implementation.
In particular, it commits the basic education system and other role players to providing Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) crucial to optimal sexual and reproductive health.
The aim of CSE is to ensure that young people gain the knowledge and skills to make conscious, healthy and respectful choices about relationships and sexuality.
The policy should include counselling on the range of options, including the choice of termination of pregnancy. Specifically, it confirms that there should be no exclusion of pregnant learners who must be allowed to remain in school during their pregnancies and return as soon after giving birth as is appropriate for both the learner and her child.
This may imply short- to medium -term absences from school and an undertaking to hold a place in the system for the return of the learner and the completion of her basic education.
Interested parties can comment on the policy in writing via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax their inputs to 012 328 8401. - SAnews.gov.za