Fuel to the fire

30 July 2019 | Columns

The level of pregnancies among teenage girls in Namibian schools can no longer be ignored by both educators and parents. It is particularly concerning when there is a high rate of schoolgirl pregnancies in our country, not forgetting the social stigma that young mothers often endure. In today's edition, we report on the shocking statistic that over 1 000 pupils have fallen pregnant in the Khomas Region alone since 2015. According to the regional education directorate, 80 learners from Khomas-based secondary schools, five from primary school and four from resource or special schools, have fallen pregnant during the first trimester. On top of that, statistics compiled since 2015 indicate that a total of 288 learners fell pregnant in 2015 and 266 in the following year. A total of 180 and 268 pregnancies were recorded among Khomas learners in 2017 and 2018, respectively. It is not only Khomas that is hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A fortnight ago, Nampa also reported that 88 learners, including two girls in Grade 7, fell pregnant in the Oshana Region during the first term of 2019. This certainly does not make for good reading. There is a need to really look at new workable solutions to curb teenage pregnancies in our country, because it seems social campaigns geared towards practicing safe sex are not effective enough to change reckless behaviour among our young people. Even though the ministry of education tries to ensure that pregnant learners can complete their schooling after giving birth, it is a fact that girls have become vulnerable to sexual abuse. Older men in particular must also shoulder the blame for fuelling the scourge of school pupils falling pregnant. As much as we must address the root cause of teenage pregnancy in our communities, it is also important to hold the boys and men accountable for impregnating young girls. Also, the economic circumstances in our communities are adding fuel to the fire and need to be addressed urgently.

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