South Africa’s Limpopo province has been hit by a teenage pregnancy scare after a high school recorded a staggering 36 pregnancies in the past year with 13 of the girls diagnosed with HIV.
According to local media Limpopo Mirror, the 36 pregnancies at the Mukhwantheli Secondary School in Dididi outside Thohoyandou was discovered during the visit of the Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba on Tuesday to launch the province’s School Health Week.
Most of the students are between the ages of 17 and 19 years old and were impregnated by fellow students. “I can speak without any fear of contradiction that there are no blessers taking advantage of our pupils. The pupils do this all by themselves,” the school principal Mashudu Maboho told the Sowetan.
“The high number of pregnancies by pupils leads to drop-outs and absenteeism … We have also engaged the services of psychologists to help with counselling to the pupils,” the principal added.
The Sowetan spoke with a grade 10 male pupil at the school who was found to have impregnated three girls. Two of the girls he had impregnated have given birth while the third is due in December.
“I do odd jobs such as plumbing and electrical wiring during weekends and I hope to use the money to look after my children and their mothers,” said the 17-year-old boy.
The school’s governing board said it had no knowledge of the situation until the visit of the province official.
“It’s so sad that our children have fallen pregnant while at school. We are going to call parents to participate in the activities of the school with a view to assist the situation,” said the chairperson of the school governing body, Thakhani Munyai.
The Mukhwantheli Secondary School’s pregnancy surge comes three months after another school, Molautsi Secondary School, located in the same province recorded 27 pregnancies in July.
The majority of the pregnant students were in grade 12. An 18-year-old student gave birth to triplets and their father was a fellow student in the school.
The provincial authorities are calling on parents to talk to their children about sex and attend school meetings. Mukhwantheli Secondary School principal Mashudu Maboho said the majority of parents work in other provinces and do not attend school meetings. He also blamed substance abuse as one of the problems in the school.
The Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba warned the students at the School Health Week to abstain from sex and urged them to ensure a zero per cent pregnancy rate at the school next year.
Here are some social media reactions to the story.
I cannot begin to stress the significance sexual education moreover in black family households. We can not prevent teenagers from having sex, but teaching prevention, i feel, is the only way. Speak to your teenagers ?
— Momo (@mohaugirl) October 19, 2018
Some of the kids don’t even have role models and with broken homes it’s just a mess
— Sure Kamhunga (@sure_kamhunga) October 19, 2018
We can blame the kids all we want but let’s remember they are also products of teen pregnancy and their kids will also be teen moms/dads… sad.. how do we break the cycle..
In Zulu bathi izingane zezingane zithola izingane
— Siphelele (@siphelelegdube) October 19, 2018
I’ve just heard that 25 learners at Bela Bela Secondary School (also in Limpopo) are pregnant ?
— Lebo (@lebo_070) October 19, 2018
We need a multi pronged solution to this problem. It breaks the heart… sex education is a good start AND fundamental structural issues like lifting people’s real living standards need to be seriously considered, as well as proper recreational facilities etc..
— Tantaswa (@TantieFubu) October 19, 2018
Stop the grants….
— BRAAM P (@AIPCJTX) October 19, 2018
Imagine you’re one of the babies that will be born from this dilemma. Your future is sketchy already and you have no idea. You didn’t ask for it but you be born into it anyway. Life ?
— Khutšo Bapela (@Jerrijane01) October 19, 2018
SA hve a problem thnking by throwing lots of money at a problem,they are solving it
— leonard chikuruhumbe (@FarasiLeonard) October 19, 2018
Surely it must be seen as a crime…3 lives has no future then already burden gran parents should fit the bill.
— sporadically (@sporadically101) October 19, 2018
Oh well the government pays them grants anyway, it’s sad as we have to foot the bill through heavy taxation from SARS
— * Ncαbα 堡垒 (@yezwe) October 19, 2018
Sex education should be part of the educational curriculum (basic education)
— Brenda Dube (@boldcolours) October 19, 2018
As the saying goes an idle mind is the devils workshop. These schools have low entertainment activities or extracurricular ones. Sex ed is important but we need to teach children there is more to life than sexual activity. Broaden their view of the world etc
— James St. Patrick (@vincemutsenhu) October 19, 2018
I am shocked, I am speechless. We as society have failed our youth. We have no excuse. What can we do to prevent this from happening? What are the solutions? We owe this much to the future generations.
— Vilakazi (@Singawuthi) October 19, 2018
Poverty cycle is so disheartening! Also i think patriarchy has something to do with this trend….My people perish for a lack of knowledge?
— Twimbos On ZAR (@Twimbos_ZAR) October 19, 2018
This is one of My biggest worries.our teens are just careless.not afraid of diseases as well.3 kids at 17 is just a plan for disaster?
— Nomfundo Sidzamba (@Mfindsy) October 19, 2018