1 800 pregnant schoolgirls drop out yearly

Official statistics show that 36% of Namibian learners aged 13 to 15 have had sexual intercourse, adding fuel to the already devastating teen pregnancy scourge.

22 October 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

About 20 000 Namibian girls dropped out of school since 2008 – averaging 1 800 annually – with a staggering total of 2 348 of 3 683 teenage pregnancies recorded in 2020 alone.

Namibian children engage in sexual intercourse as young as 11 to buy pads, food or toiletries, and not for pleasure, Ayesha Wentworth, the director of programmes and quality assurance in the education ministry, said yesterday.

These revelations were made amid the raging debate about the legalisation and non-legalisation of abortion.

Public hearings on the matter concluded yesterday, with the ministry giving insight into the magnitude of teenage pregnancy.

The //Karas and Kunene regions showed the highest drop-out rates amongst pregnant teens, with 31% and 28% respectively.

This data does not include the number of pregnant girls still in school as principals are reluctant to report teenage pregnancies.

During this time, the highest teenage pregnancy numbers were recorded in Omusati, with 562. A whopping 294 of these girls did not return to school.

The lowest was in //Karas, with a total of 19 teenage pregnancies - of which five learners dropped out of school.

A total of 75% learners interviewed believed schools had made good effort to keep pregnant girls in school through maternity leave.

However, in Ohangwena, pregnant girls said they were stigmatised by their peers and some of their teachers.

Meanwhile, statistics show that 36% of learners aged 13 to 15 have had sexual intercourse.

The ministry further found that 71% of sexually active teenagers aged 13 to 15 had sex before the age of 14.

Wentworth added that teenage pregnancies doubled in lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, and drop-out figures increased with 800.

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