NEWS & ANALYSIS

193 grade 3, 4 and 5 schoolchildren fell pregnant - Sonja Boshoff

DA MP says if those from Grade 6 and 7 are added, this number increases to 1 449 between 2014 and 2016

193 grade 3, 4 and 5 school children fell pregnant

A response to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that 193 pupils in Grades 3, 4 and 5 fell pregnant between 2014 and 2016. If school children from Grade 6 and 7 who fell pregnant are added, this number increases to 1 449 children.

This information should shock every South African. Young girls, most under the legal age of 16, are having their futures undermined, likely through being taken advantage of or abused.

The DA will urgently submit further parliamentary questions to find out if these girls are under the age of 16 and if so, whether any charges have been instituted against those responsible, as this would be statutory rape. We will also investigate whether these girls have since returned back to school, following the birth of their child, what support the school and the Department of Basic Education have provided them to catch up on the syllabus, and whether counselling and other emotional support has been provided.

The parliamentary reply showed that 18 357 pupils fell pregnant in 2014, 15 504 in 2015, and 8 732 in 2016.

Although the overall numbers seem to indicate a drop in school pregnancies, the Department of Basic Education was not able to provide the statistics for Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Traditionally, these two provinces account for large numbers of school pregnancies, a total of 6 477 in 2014 and 5 178 in 2015 combined.

It is vital that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, provide these missing numbers as a matter of urgency so that a realistic and honest assessment can be made and solutions can be found.

These young girls cannot be lost to the system and the department must follow up to ensure that they continue to attend school.

Keeping children in school should be our major priority if we are to ensure that every person, no matter the circumstances of their birth, are able to live a life they truly value, filled with opportunity. This is something the DA will continue to fight for.

Statement issued by Sonja Boshoff MP, DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, 26 March 2017