Limpopo MECs to address teenage pregnancy

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Giyani - Two Limpopo MECs have joined hands in the fight against high levels of teenage pregnancy at schools in the province.

Provincial Health and Social Development MEC Dikeledi Magadzi and Education MEC Dickson Masemola will hold a public meeting with teachers, pupils and parents at the Mavalani Secondary School in Mavalani village near Giyani on Friday.

The aim of the community meeting is to facilitate a set of discussions on social issues such as education and the prevention of diseases, particularly sexually transmitted illnesses, including HIV and Aids.

"We want to send a clear message to our people, particularly the youth, that it is their responsibility to deal with issues of sexuality in a responsible manner. There are risks involved and therefore they must be cautious and should not allow peer pressure to rob them of a bright future," said Magadzi.

Magadzi said while her discussions would mainly revolve around health risks associated with teenage pregnancy, Masemola would discuss the effects of teenage pregnancies on teaching and learning.

Mavalani Secondary School made headlines when 18 pupils accused of rioting in protest against media reports about the high rate of teen pregnancies at their school were arrested in January.

The pupils were arrested on 29 January when windows at the school were smashed and a teacher's car was damaged. At the time, the school reported 57 pregnancies at the school.

Following the incident, Magadzi dispatched a team of health professionals to the school and other Limpopo schools that had a high pregnancy rate.

Magadzi announced multi-pronged strategies aimed at addressing the problem. The strategies included police investigating incidents in which some of the pregnant pupils are minors and deploying nurses to schools on a full-time basis.

The role of the nurses is to support teachers with school health activities and also provide health-related information to pupils.

Through the Peer Education Programme, 60 school leavers have already been trained to educate pupils about health and sex-related services offered by clinics.

In addition, the Youth Friendly Services Programme has been implemented at 255 of the province's 416 clinics where nurses are encouraged to be friendly and not judgemental when dealing with young people visiting clinics. - BuaNews