'It would increase school pregnancies'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has criticised the suggestion that pregnant schoolgirls be given maternity leave of up to four months.

The idea, which has had a mixed reaction, was first mooted at a recent meeting in KwaZulu-Natal of parents and members of school governing bodies with the province's Department of Education.

Speaking to hundreds of IFP members during a two-day conference of the party's women's brigade in Ulundi at the weekend, Buthelezi said, as the leader of a party established on family and human values, that he was against maternity leave for schoolgirls.

He said it was not right that some people were being accommodating about issues that were wrong for society - in the name of democracy and freedom.

The IFP, he said, preferred to uphold the cause of moral regeneration.

"Giving school pupils maternity leave would only encourage promiscuity.

"It would encourage young children to have children, thereby encouraging under-age sex. If we allow this to happen, what nation will we be creating?"

Christi Naude, spokesman for the provincial Department of Education, blamed the media for misrepresenting what had been discussed at the recent Teenage Pregnancy Summit.

It was at that summit that a parent suggested that pregnant pupils be given four months of maternity leave, she said.

"We were very upset about the way in which the matter was handled by the media.

"It was taken out of proportion and reported as if it was one of the recommendations or resolutions made at the summit," she said.

"There's no way the Education Department would allow maternity leave to be granted because it is against any scholar falling pregnant," Naude said.