The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has welcomed the announcement that the Teenage Pregnancy Policy will be implemented from January 2022.

The policy, which was recently approved by Cabinet, will allow female learners who are pregnant to continue with their education, as do male learners who impregnate them.

“Early, unplanned learner pregnancies subject girls to socio-economic hardships, and the termination of their education during that stage exacerbates the situation by diminishing their future economic and employment prospects,” Commission spokesperson, Javu Baloyi said.

Presenting a National Dropout Management and Prevention Plan to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a hybrid Ministerial briefing this week, Basic Education Acting Director General, Granville Whittle, revealed to the Council that about 120 000 learners fall pregnant every year with only a third returning to school after giving birth.

It was also revealed that over 200 000 learners did not return to school in 2021.

The Commission has also applauded the NCOP for its decisive action to hold a plenary after 33 000 young girls fell pregnant in 2020, noting that this is a positive step in addressing the rape crisis, teenage pregnancy, and measures to deal with the scourge.

“The statutory rape and teenage pregnancy crises were discussed by stakeholders in our webinar on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, which was held on 31 August 2021, where experts decried lack of policy implementation to address the crises.

“The Commission for Gender Equality will be monitoring the implementation plan and will where necessary, engage both the Department of Basic Education and Provincial Departments of Education,” Baloyi said.

Source: South African Government News Agency