Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
Recently Sowetan has published several articles on schoolgirl pregnancy. While it is important to draw attention to this very worrying problem, I am concerned that the manner in which it is being presented tends to glamourise pregnant schoolgirls.
There has been little about the negative impact early mother-hood has on girls.
I am aware that some of your readers will react angrily to this concern. Some have written in to say their teenage pregnancies don't affect their education. And, in individual cases, with proper loving care and family support, this might be the case.
Yet, sadly, the evidence shows that pregnant schoolgirls are less likely to finish school. They suffer most, if not all, the negative consequences of pregnancy.
They are removed from school, forced to marry early, forced to neglect school work to care for their child, and even go on to have more early pregnancies once they return to school.
There are further social problems that we do not talk about: young children are abandoned; and teenage mothers are often compelled to take on exploitative employment because of new financial demands.
This is what schoolgirls face on their own, while the boys and men who father their babies are left untouched.
These facts spell disaster for girls and our gender equality aspirations.
Naledi PandorMinister of Education