Picture: 123RF/olimpic
Picture: 123RF/olimpic

Schools in the Western Cape have reduced pupil pregnancies by 25% in two years — and the education department says a key part of its strategy has involved targeting boys.

Education MEC Debbie Schafer said on Thursday that pregnancy-prevention workshops for pupils between grades 5 and 11 had played a part in cutting pregnancies from 2‚880 in 2015 to 2‚148 in 2017.

Topics discussed at the workshops included healthy relationships‚ sexting‚ how to avoid teen pregnancy and the importance of completing high school — as well as insights into the harsh realities of being a teen parent.

The Cape Winelands district had launched a pregnancy-prevention programme targeted at boys‚ and wellness centres had been opened at two high schools with a high number of pregnancies.

"The centres are run at the schools to eradicate the stigma attached to teenagers visiting the local health clinics‚ something that usually prevents them from accessing healthcare and advice from these clinics‚" said Schafer. "It is of grave concern to me that so many of our learners in the Western Cape fall pregnant whil in school. It is crucially important that young girls and boys are aware of the consequences of teen pregnancy.

"It is my hope that these courses and projects will empower our learners to make responsible choices‚ and that [they] will assist in providing them with essential coping skills to stand up to peer‚ societal and social media pressures."

Schafer said the education department did its best to encourage pregnant girls to complete their schooling. "The department treats pregnant learners sensitively as learners with special needs‚ with access to counseling by social workers and psychologists based in our district offices."

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has reported that, nationally‚ 15‚000 schoolgirls became pregnant in 2015.

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