Kambule slams school maternity-leave idea

07 November 2006 - 02:00
By unknown

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Internationally acclaimed South African lecturer and professor, Thamsanqa Kambule, described the Education Department's announcement that pupils might soon receive a four-month maternity leave as ridiculous.

The idea was recently tabled at a Pietermaritzburg Teenage Pregnancy Summit to help with what is regarded as a high incident of pregnancies in schools.

Kambule, a mathematician and former Orlando High School principal, said the country had gone too far.

"When does learning begin and parenting start? The two cannot be mixed. Children's rights in South Africa have gone too far.

"Young people should be discouraged from getting pregnant. This suggestion is taking liberalism too far.

"Parenting is a big responsibility. When a child falls pregnant they must leave the school environment," he said.

Kambule said during his tenure the school never discriminated against young mothers, but the problem was not as serious as the one faced by schools today.

The Young Communist League (YCL) said it viewed the proposal as discrimination, though it was also concerned about the high number of teenage pregnancies. Castro Ngobese, a YCL spokesman, said removing children from classrooms would be the wrong move.

"It is not a crime to have a child. We are not supporting teenage pregnancy, but we feel its unfair to remove the pupils from class."

Ngobese said it would be fair for schools to allow pupils to stay on at school for as long as possible.

"What we need is for the minister of education to lead discussions that include the community in drafting a policy with long-term solutions," he said.

"We are working on the regulation. The minister plans to make an announcement on guidelines soon," said the spokesman for the national Education Department, Lunga Ngqengelele.