DBE submits draft policy to prevent teen pregnancy in schools

The department said part of the reason for the significant jump in numbers is the COVID lockdown and school closures, which meant pupils were not in class.

FILE: The department said part of the reason for the significant jump in numbers was the COVID lockdown and school closures, which meant pupils were not in class. Picture: pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Basic Education said it had given Cabinet a new draft policy on how to address teenage pregnancy in schools and was expecting it to be approved soon.

Briefing parliament’s basic education committee on Tuesday, the department gave figures that show nearly 87,000 babies were delivered to girls aged between 10 and 19 in public health facilities in 2017, but this number rose to more than 136,000 last year.

The department said part of the reason for the significant jump in numbers was the COVID lockdown and school closures, which meant pupils were not in class.

READ: Gauteng reported 23,000 teen pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021 - DA

Department of Basic Education's Dr Granville Whittle said the policy would guide how the department prevented and managed learner pregnancies, in future.

Comprehensive sexuality education and access to health services are already offered by some schools.

Whittle said it was important that girls remained in school for as long as possible, and that they should be encouraged to continue with classes after having their baby.

“It’s important that when children fall pregnant and have given birth, that they are returned to school because if they don’t, they're likely to have multiple pregnancies,” Whittle said.

He said girls between the ages of 10 and 19 were four times more likely than boys to be infected with HIV and faced other risks like rape, gender-based violence and exploitation by older men.

“Girls don't drop out because they fall pregnant, they fall pregnant because they have dropped out,” he added.

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