By Ebi Kesiena
More than 5000 schoolgirls in the Northern Cape of South Africa have fallen pregnant between April 2020 and June this year, report says.
The Provincial Education Department has raised concerns about the alarming number of pregnant teenagers, saying some are as young as ten.
MEC Zolile Monakali noted that they have invested in life skill programmes to support learners.
According to Monakali, the organisation is also dealing with teachers who have been charged with sexually assaulting learners.
“When the pandemic started up to the end of June this year, we recorded 5015 pregnant cases of girls between the ages of ten and nineteen and of those 154 is accounted for by girls between the ages of ten and fourteen that is a big concern for our education system.
“Currently in the Northern Cape Department of Education, we are attending to five cases which involve educators and learners. When educators are found guilty in such cases, it is a dismissible offence, we even go so far as to contact the South African Council of Educators to scrap their names from the educators roll,” he stated.
Also, the Soul City Institute for Social Justice said it is not surprised by the figures that close to a thousand young girls in Gauteng gave birth between March this year and April last year.
The Institute stated that although the COVID-19 pandemic might have put the issue in the spotlight, this is not a new problem. The Gauteng Health Department recorded over 23 000 teenage pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021, with 934 being girls aged between 10 and 14.
Soul City Institute CEO Phinah Kodisang, says this is a reflection of how the country continues to fail children.
“For us as Soul City Institute it’s not a shock. We know this has been an ongoing problem. The numbers have been escalating probably because of COVID-19. But this problem has been a standing problem. And because we do not call it what it is, it’s statutory rape when a 10 or 14-year-old is having sex. Because the age of consent in South Africa is 16 years,” he said.