Causes of Teenage Pregnancy in a Schooling Context

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Table of Contents

  • Policy on Teenage Pregnancy: South African Perspective
  • Trends and Challenges of Teenage Pregnancy in a Schooling Context
  • Policy Implications of Teenage Pregnancy in a Schooling Context
  • Conclusion
  • References

Nowadays even young people know the causes of teenage pregnancy but they are still falling pregnant. What is the problem? Do we need a policy as a country concerning teenage pregnancy? Policy, trends and causes of teenage pregnancy are discussed in this essay as this problem relates to the entire world. Despite the fact that the birth rate among teenagers is rising after falling steadily for years, the number of teenage pregnancies in developed countries is estimated to be in the millions. A significant number of these pregnancies are unplanned, which can pose problems in any population. It has been more than a decade since the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 prohibited pregnancy discrimination in schools. While the law makes it clear that such students cannot be turned away from school, it is less clear how schools should handle pregnant students and learner-parents. According to Article 9(3) of the Law of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sexual orientation, and pregnancy. Every child, regardless of race or creed, has the right to an education.

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According to Gustafsson and Worku, South Africa has a high rate of adolescent childbearing. The United States, Turkey, and Brazil all have similar rates of thousands of women giving birth during their adolescence. This implies that adolescent pregnancy is a global social issue that affects both developing and developed countries. Teenage pregnancy is the leading cause of female adolescent dropout. When school administrators restrict pregnant and parenting students' access to education, they contribute to these dropout rates, even if some girls can't keep up and drop out regardless. This implies that school principals contribute to the denial of pregnant teenagers' right to an education. According to Majavu, days after teenage experts told parliament that teenage mothers should be allowed to stay in school, a Cape Town principal was accused of suspending pregnant school students and not allowing them to return after giving birth

The harsh realities of adolescent pregnancy in South Africa are not pleasant, and they have far-reaching consequences. Among other things, it presents a significant management and leadership challenge. It urges school management teams (SMTs) to acquire critical skills for managing adolescent pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of the Republic of South Africa's Constitution of 1996 and the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996. Furthermore, adolescent pregnancy has far-reaching implications for global policy. There has been a lot written about sexual education. There has been little, if any, research on learner pregnancy as a barrier to achieving MDGs and EFA goals. Drawing on literature, this research investigates policy on teenage pregnancy from a South African perspective; investigates trends and challenges of teenage pregnancy in a schooling context; considers policy implications of teenage pregnancy in a schooling context; and compares teenage pregnancy in schools to MDGs and EFA goals.

Policy on Teenage Pregnancy: South African Perspective

The Department of Education's Policy on Measures for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy outlines a variety of measures to prevent and manage early pregnancy. The Provincial Education Department must provide a copy of these measures to each school and ensure their compliance, according to the Department of Education's Policy on Measures for the Management and Prevention of Learner Pregnancy. They should also endeavour to ensure that educators and managers are prepared to cope with the numerous issues associated with learner pregnancy. Schools should also make certain that parents are well-informed about these measures. According to Mngoma, pregnancy among adolescent students remains a major challenge for many local schools, which believe they are fighting a losing battle, with some reporting as many as 20 pregnant adolescent students in their schools each year. This occurs despite all of the sex education campaigns and life orientation lessons taught in schools. According to the executive summary of their research, Macleod and Tracy identified capacity at the provincial and district levels as an impediment to overall implementation, and that educators, as well as district and provincial level coordinators and management, face a lack of resources that hamper interventions. This leaves educators and SMTs with few or no options for dealing with adolescent pregnancy at school.

Some school administrators are unaware of, or are ignorant of, the Department of Education's policy and guidelines on teen pregnancy. According to Majavu, the principal of Rosendal High School suspended between seven and twenty pregnant students from school, some before their pregnancies were even visible. He stated that girls should not be running about the school because they can get hurt. The difficulty that school principals face is determining how to handle pregnant students. In this case, the principal is in violation of the Republic of South Africa's Constitution and the South African Schools Act, which grant teenagers the right to an education regardless of pregnancy.

According to Hlungwani in Sowetan Live, students at Mavalani Secondary School outside Giyani, Limpopo, went on a rampage, destroying property, after accusing the principal of reporting that 57 of their classmates were pregnant, with the youngest expectant mother being 13 years old. This corroborates the high rate of pregnancy among adolescent girls who are still in school. It also suggests that parents and educators may be failing to prevent adolescent pregnancy. Every day, principals face the challenge of teen pregnancy. African schoolgirls, in particular, face adversity. In a situation of divided family structures, where parents are either absent or working and living in metropolitan areas, and when schools provide no support for childcare, they bear the responsibility of baby care and their schoolwork suffers, albeit not all African schoolgirls face the same issues. This implies that a lack of parental care may result in adolescent pregnancy. Furthermore, according to Bhana et al., school principals lack the knowledge and competence to cope with pregnant students, therefore they urge them to return to school after giving birth. Despite the government's and the Department of Eduction best efforts, the rate among pregnant teenagers enrolled in school continues to rise year after year.

Trends and Challenges of Teenage Pregnancy in a Schooling Context

Much concern has been made in recent years, notably in the media, about the reported increase in teenage pregnancies. Many of these reports are based on regional data. According to Mthethwa, teenage pregnancy is a threat to our society. It is a struggle that requires as much attention and focus as the fight against apartheid, and more recently, HIV. SMTs are concerned about teen pregnancy in the school setting. Because the Department of Education has left everything in hands of the school principal, SMTs face ever-increasing challenges. If a student goes into labour at school, there are no nurses on According to Grant and Hallman, one in every five 18-year-old women in South Africa has given birth, and more than 40 percent have become mothers by the age of 20. This suggests that a large number of female students drop out of secondary school as a result of having children. According to Cassell, studies in the United States have shown that child-rearing, a lack of parental support, and a lack of peer support all contribute to high dropout rates. Despite the fact that the law allows pregnant students to continue their education, some choose to stay at home. According to recent research, the Free State, Gauteng, and North West provinces had lower rates of teenage fertility, whereas Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape, Limpopo, and the Eastern Cape had high rates of early pregnancy. In 2008, 24.4 percent of the girls polled in the same study admitted to being pregnant

This was 5.3 percent higher than the previous study six years prior. According to Mngoma, KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 21.8 percent of the interviewed girls who admitted to becoming pregnant in 2002, rising to 25.8 percent in 2008. Pregnancy among adolescent students appears to be a significant issue for many local schools. According to Moselakgomo and Khumalo, one of the schools that performed well is a Mpumalanga school that made headlines last year after 70 of its students became pregnant. The school is deemed to have performed well since the results have improved, but they are still below 50%, indicating that it is a dysfunctional school..

Moselakgomo also reports that Malatse High School in Marapyane, KwaZulu-Natal, has 290 students, 70 of whom are pregnant. This is 24 percent of the girls at that school, which is a large number of students. According to Zondo, adolescent fertility is now much more problematic than in the past. This indicates that more teenagers are becoming pregnant than in the past. Given the foregoing, the issue of adolescent pregnancy should be approached with caution at school. Parents, educators, and, more specifically, school management teams (SMTs) should be aware of how to manage and deal with adolescent pregnancy. Berry and Hall discovered that the Limpopo province had the highest percentage of pregnant girls aged 15 to 19 years in 2003, at 16.6 percent. Despite a drop in teenage pregnancy from 1998 to 2003, Limpopo remained at the top. Limpopo is mostly made up of rural communities. It has five municipal districts, one of which is Vhembe. The majority of parents in this district work on the reef, leaving their children alone.

In 2003, the Limpopo province had the highest number of teenage pregnancies. It was second only to Mpumalanga in 1998. Both of these provinces are more rural, and they have the lowest annual Grade 12 results. Teenage pregnancy is one of the factors that may contribute to the failure rate. According to the South African Department of Basic Education, Limpopo achieved 57.9 percent for Grade 12 results in 2010, up from 48.9 percent in 2009; Mpumalanga achieved 56.8 percent in 2010, up from 47.9 percent in 2009: an 8.9 percent improvement. It creates a need for SMTs to be trained in how to deal with pregnant students at school because some principals discourage students from continuing with school when they are pregnant because they are afraid to face the where a student could give birth at school

Policy Implications of Teenage Pregnancy in a Schooling Context

While South Africa's liberal school policy on teenage pregnancy has mitigated some of the consequences of early childbearing, not all teenage mothers remain or return to school. This may be due to uneven implementation of school policy, which results in the suspension or expulsion of pregnant teenagers, poor academic performance prior to pregnancy, a lack of child-care alternatives, insufficient support from families, peers, and the school environment, and the social stigma of being a teenage mother. Furthermore, some parents may choose not to send their daughters to school because they believe that the benefits of education for girls are limited and that the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 requires parents to ensure that every child attend school from the very first school day of the year in which they turn 7, to the last school day of the year in which they become 15, or until the conclusion of Grade 9, whichever comes first. Every school-age child is required by law to attend school, regardless of whether she is pregnant or not. In other words, there should be no gender or pregnancy discrimination. However, when a student becomes pregnant, school administrators face new challenges. True, there is a policy in place to deal with pregnant students; the question is whether or not the SMTs have been trained. cost of sending them to school is too high for the family to bear.

While pregnancy may be the most directly associated with dropping out, it is not always the cause. Girls who perform poorly in school are more likely to drop out, have early pregnancy, and are less likely to return to school after giving birth. In fact, data from South Africa show that dropping out frequently precedes pregnancy. While South African legislation protects young mothers from discrimination at school, there is nonetheless evidence that pregnant school-goers are asked to leave during their pregnancies. This could be due to the perception of young pregnant women as a bad influence on other young women. Furthermore, the Department of Education's Policy on Measures for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy allows educators to 'request' that students take a leave of absence for up to two years.

This policy contradicts the South African Constitution, which states that every child has the right to an education; on the other hand, it puts SMTs in a catch-22 situation. Two years is a long time, and the learner will have forgotten almost everything by the time she returns to school. On the other hand, how does one tell a pregnant learner to leave school and stay at home for two years; thus, principals are frustrated. Some school principals will summon the parents of pregnant students to come and stay at school if there are complications with their children that are not covered by the policy. The challenges that SMTs face force them to intentionally or unintentionally violate policy. The researcher hopes to learn how SMTs interpret this policy on measures for the prevention and management of adolescent pregnancy in this study.


SMTs in schools face the daily challenge of learner pregnancies, and they are legally required as well as policy to keep the pregnant learner at school. Principals continue to expel pregnant students from schools, despite the presence of the Constitution and the policy. The Department of Basic Education should develop clear guidelines for dealing with learner pregnancy at school, and SMTs should be trained in this area.


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  • Hall, K. & Berry, L. (2009). HIV & AIDS and STI National Strategic Plan 2007-2011: Teenage pregnancy. Children's Institute, University of Cape Town

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