No sex before the right age, pupils urged
WHILE South Africa battles to combat teenage pregnancy in schools, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for social development Weziwe Thusi has called on pupils to honour former president Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday by refraining from sex at a young age.
Thousands of girls at school are falling pregnant each year and the situation is worsening.
Yesterday, Thusi said the children who engage in sex while at school must adopt a new motto, "no sex before the right age".
She said that could be the "best gift" pupils can offer Mandela on his 94th birthday.
Thusi said promoting sexual health was important.
"Boys must also stop forcing girls to have sex with them because they are all not ready to be parents," she said.
About 45,276 pupils in South Africa fell pregnant in 2009, according to Department of Basic Education.
"However, pregnancy has also increased among girls in Grade 3 to 5. In 2009 about 109 pupils in Grade 3 fell pregnant. KwaZulu-Natal recorded 12,954 pregnancies, Limpopo 10,323, Eastern Cape 8,420 and Western Cape 1,983. Most of the pupils were in Matric," the department said.
The figure is also expected to be higher in KwaZulu-Natal schools once reports for 2011/12 have been compiled.
A total of 12,971 pupils had fallen pregnant in 2010 in the province, according to education officials and the figure for 2011 could be about 13,000.
In June, education MEC Senzo Mchunu said the department was already aware of 465 schoolgirl pregnancies.
Thusi said: "It is worrying and it is important that schoolgirls take decisive steps and refrain from indulging in sex at an early age."
Yesterday, Thusi and eThekwini deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala visited the two troubled schools in Durban's Umlazi township, Makhumbuza and King Shaka High.
Makhumbuza dominated headlines in 2009 when five teachers were accused for having sexual relationships with pupils.
Both schools have also a number of pregnant pupils. Last year, three pupils at Makhumbuza fell pregnant and one has done so this year.
King Shaka has recorded 19 pupils being pregnant this year.
Thusi told pupils to work hard to bring back dignity to their schools and to build their futures.
Nonhlanhla Zindela of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities said encouraging people to use family planning would assist to curb poverty.
"Children must avoid getting pregnant. Boys and girls should avoid risk behaviour that will expose them to pregnancy and diseases."