Teen pregnancy shocks officials

EDUCATION officials in Limpopo were yesterday shocked to discover two pregnant pupils aged 12 and 13.

EDUCATION officials in Limpopo were yesterday shocked to discover two pregnant pupils aged 12 and 13.

The officials discovered the Grade 6 and 7 girls during their tour of schools in the Mawa circuit outside Tzaneen to establish how widespread teenage pregnancies were in the area.

It was not yet known who was responsible for the pregnancies.

However, upon investigation, it was discovered that the two children were both from poor family backgrounds.

The South African Council of Educators (SACE) yesterday said it was concerned about sexual relations between teachers and pupils.

SACE spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said about 75 sexual offences involving teachers impregnating pupils or having sexual relationship with pupils had been reported since April last year countrywide.

He also said about 78 teachers throughout the country were struck off the roll in August last year after they were found to have either impregnated pupils or had sexual relations with pupils.

Ndlovu said in many instances the teacher-pupil relationships were reported by parents, fellow teachers or members of the school governing body.

He said the parents of the affected children were usually not aware of the relationship until the victims started bunking classes in an effort to hide their pregnancies.

The latest case of the two girls brings to four the number of pupils of the same age who have fallen pregnant at the school.

General manager of communication in the department Cebile Khanye said two Grade 7 pupils of the same age were found to be pregnant last year.

She said the department had dispatched officials to the school and to the children's homes to investigate the matter.

Khanye said the children would continue learning and would also be allowed to write their examinations as required by the South African School Governing Act.

The incident comes barely a day after Sowetan reported about nine cases of teachers accused of having impregnated nine pupils or had sexual relationship with them this year alone.

Chairperson of the school governing body Hitler Morwatshehla said yesterday that teachers from Sebalamakgolo, Lebeko, Relebogile and George Tlali schools in Phalaborwa and the Bochum circuit were accused of making pupils pregnant or having sexual relationships with them in exchange for money or improved marks.

Morwatshehla said the teachers targeted pupils from poor backgrounds whose parents were either working on farms or depending on social grants.

According to SACE, in certain instances, out of 10 pregnant pupils in one school, a teacher could be responsible for one or two of the pregnancies.

Ndhlovu said the council was also concerned about the rising number of young pupils being impregnated by teachers.

He added that SACE would investigate the matter.