Teenage pregnancy in South Africa is here to stay and here's why

The crisis of teenage pregnancy in most of our schools is one that should keep educators, parents and provincial as well as national education officials awake. The staggering number of 99 000 pregnant kids in our schools is one that mirrors the moral decay in the county that was once the beacon of hope to the world. It is one that mirrors social brokenness; hopelessness and tellingly lack of leadership in the communities.

The problem with the current South Africa is that we have become too politically correct; everyone does what they want at any time.

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Why is teenage pregnancy here to stay? The first reason is we have abolished bible studies as a compulsory subject in our schools and should face the aftermaths of that decision. The subject of bible studies would have instilled in our learners the importance of abiding by the word of God. It would have taught the learners that sex is for adults. It would have also taught the immoral male teachers and other old people who perpetually sleep with the learners whom they are supposed to mould into better human beings that it is utterly wrong to sleep with a school learner, regardless of the age. It would have also instilled in many of us- the youth- the fear of the Lord. Given that the majority of the schools still dominantly practice Christianity rituals like morning prayers in the assembly, what stops the Basic Education Department from introducing the bible studies?

The other reason is that communities are no longer united. In the era of my parents, I am told, a child from another family was a child for another family. That meant communities shared burdens and successes alike. By implication, if another family’s child was seen doing a shameful act, any responsible elderly from the community would condemn that behaviour within an eye’s wink. Does that still happen in our era? No! Instead, some parents laugh at another family’s child’s delinquency or misfortune.

The other reason that this phenomenon is here to stay is one that every parent is familiar with: children these days know more about their rights than they know about their responsibilities. When they are being scolded, they quickly remind you of their rights. When their parents warn them against certain friends that have a potential of throwing them into a lion’s den, they are quick to tell you that times have changed; now is their time.

Here is the bitter reality: if we do not fight this scorch, gender disparities that continue to widen in this country will remain even in our children’s era. Our communities need to do more in alerting the girls that when they fall pregnant while attending school, their chances of playing a meaningful role in the mainstream economy will continue to take a downside movement. As families, we need to constantly remind our children that abstinence from sex is better than years of regret as a result of a no more than a ten minute sexual indulgence. Until we restore order in our families and subsequently communities, teenage pregnancy will haunt even generations to come.

This sad reality also reflects dismally on some of the intended goals of the Life Orientation subject. Why do teenage pregnancy numbers still outnumber the stars in the galaxy in the presence of Life Orientation?

About the Author : Lehlohonolo Mofokeng
Lehlohonolo is an aspiring world-class township schools commerce teacher. While he acknowledges the challenges that still bedevil the township schools, his conviction is there is still greatness that lies in many of them. He currently reads for Master of Education degree at the University of the Witwatersrand as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar.
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