With some 82 000 learners between the ages of 14 and 19 having fallen pregnant in 2017 alone, South Africa is pinning its hopes on a social and behaviour change campaign to curb early and unplanned teen pregnancies.
Known as the “Let’s Talk”, this campaign is implemented across 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, which has one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world.
The campaign is driven by multiple factors which include poverty, lack of information and access to reproductive health services, cultural norms, peer pressure, sexual coercion and abuse.
A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) situational analysis reported that in some countries, up to 95 percent of young girls drop out of school after pregnancy.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently launched the “Let’s Talk” campaign in Gauteng.
In South Africa, it is reported that up to one-third of young girls who fall pregnant drop out of school.
“Teen pregnancy impacts on education [outcomes]. Unfortunately, this scourge disproportionately affects girls from lower socio-economic communities, thus adding on their burden,” Motshekga said.
“We hope to share and learn from other countries on how to address this stubborn challenge. We need a coordinated and cohesive effort to accelerate progress in the prevention and management of early and unintended pregnancies (EUP),” Motshekga said.
Unesco Regional Director Remmy Shawa said while girls should be taught about pregnancy, boys should not be left out of the equation.
“Early pregnancy has consequences on the lives of young girls. They face shame from their communities and miss out on education… Let us not forget that boys are part of the problem and that they are also part of the solution,” said Shawa. SAnews.gov.za