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Keynote Address Delivered by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the Let’s Talk Prevention (EUP) Campaign held at Mamelodi High School, Pretoria, 06 November 2019

Programme Director;

Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Mkhize

Honourable Minister of Social Department, Ms Lindiwe Zulu

Honourable and Colleague MEC for Education, Mr Lesufi

Heads of Departments

Representatives from Provincial and District Departments of Education, Social Development and Health

Representatives from United Nations Agencies

UNAIDS Country Director, Dr Mugabe;

UNFPA Representative, Ms Muthali

Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, especially those that represent our adolescents and young people; religious and traditional sectors

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Learners and young people

Dumelang!  Sanibonani! Good morning!

 

It is my pleasure to be here as we mark the official launch of the South African leg of the regional, Let’s Talk Prevention of Early and Unintended Pregnancies Campaign.   

 

With just a few weeks before the world commemorates the International World Aids Day, this launch today couldn’t have come at an opportune moment.

 

It also occurs at the time when we are seized with the alarming high levels of gender based violence against women and girl children.

 

I am inclined to say that the Early and Unintended Pregnancies are poor cousins of the scourge of Gender Based Violence against women and girl children. 

Whereas the HIV/Aids and the Early and Unintended Pregnancies are like a hurricane combo hell-bent on annihilation of the flowers of the nation before they blossom.

 

As we all know the greatest risk to contracting HIV/Aids occurs as a result of engaging in unprotected sex, and at times non-consexual sex between adult males and young girls.

 

Thus, the risk of contracting HIV amongst pregnant adolescents and women increases exponentially.

 

Our recent fifth survey on HIV (Human Science Research Council Report, 2018) tells us that as a country we currently experiencing an estimated 1300 new HIV infections weekly among adolescent girls and young women.

 

For us in the basic education sector, our apprehension increases due to these early and unplanned pregnancies beyond just contracting the deadly virus.  

 

It is reported that up to one-third of girls who fall pregnant drop-out of school in South Africa, every year.

 

The launch today is a culmination of years of hard work by various stakeholders within and outside of our Government.

 

It is yet another affirmation of our collective desire as a nation to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, our girl children.

 

The issue of Early and Unintended pregnancies amongst school going girl children must be understood as a societal problem.

 

The schools where sometimes this phenomena manifest is just a microcosm of society. 

 

As a society, we must admit that we are fighting a losing battle. In a roundabout way, I am saying, our schools are not the breeding ground of sexual misconduct and unprotected sex.

 

As a country we must face up to the sheer magnitude of teenage pregnancies, as the recent statistics show that up to 117 pregnancies occurred among adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 10-19 years old in 2018.

 

Of particular concern from these numbers are the live births from children between the ages of 10-14 years, where the report told us 2 716 of these girls delivered babies in 2017 alone.

As a country we should be asking ourselves a very critical questions, who makes these children pregnant? What business is this that children this age are having children, and what are we doing to prevent this injustice from happening?

 

This Campaign, Let’s Talk Prevention of Early and Unintended is designed to nip this phenomena in the bud.  

 

Through this Campaign, I believe that we will be able to enhance our efforts in addressing the drivers of this phenomena in our country.  

 

Of major concern on the negative impacts of Early and Unintended Pregnancies is the many health, psychological, socio and economic consequences this has on the lives of the adolescents’ girls and their unborn babies.   

 

Therefore it is vital that our efforts are enhanced to prevent Early and Unintended Pregnancies so as to counter the negative impact on the lives of the adolescent girls and young women.

 

As the education sector we are especially apprehensive of the resultant high drop-out rates from school by young girls who experience unplanned and early pregnancy.

 

Some 82 000 learners between the ages of 14-19 fell pregnant in 2017 alone. As I said earlier, about one third of these will never return to the classroom.  

 

The Let’s Talk Prevention Early and Unintended Pregnancies Campaign provide us with innovative strategies of engaging our young people, our parents, us - policy makers, religious and traditional leaders as well as our parents at the right time with the right tools. 

 

All these stakeholders are key if we are to make progress in terms of addressing one of stubborn and challenging concerns such as teenage pregnancies in our country.

 

Through the Let’s Talk Prevention Early and Unintended Pregnancies Campaign, I believe that we will be able to enhance our efforts in addressing the drivers this phenomena in our country.

 

We must engage various stakeholders in ensuring that the negative impact of Early and Unintended Pregnancies on the life of the adolescents is minimised.

 

 

 

 

Of major concern is the negative consequences of these Early and Unintended Pregnancies have on the lives of the adolescents’ girls and their unborn babies such as poor health outcomes, and socio-economic  amongst others.

 

Therefore it is vital that our efforts are enhanced to prevent Early and Unintended Pregnancies so as to counter the negative impact on the lives of the adolescent girls and young women.

 

It is therefore for this reason that I am excited that as a country we are here today launching the Let’s Talk Prevention Early and Unintended Pregnancies Campaign.  

 

It will ensure we increase our efforts in dealing with teenage pregnancies.  As a country we endorsed the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Commitment on upscaling comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual reproductive health services.

 

One of the Targets of the ESA Commitment is that as a country we will reduce teenage pregnancies by 75% by 2020. 

 

As a result of work behind the scenes, we are late in launching this campaign. Thus, we won’t meet the target. Yet, it too early to despair.

 

Nevertheless the campaign is now in full swing, we should see positive results in not so a distant future.

 

The campaign gives us impetus to do things differently so as to effect positive change, and make requisite progress against set targets. 

 

 In order for us to accelerate our action towards reducing the unacceptably high rates of teenage pregnancies in our country, we will also need all hands on deck.

 

Thus, I am excited and grateful that I have many of my colleagues from the Department of Health, Education, Social Development present here today as well as the CSOs and development partners because it is only through our collaboration that we will all realise success in the fight against teenage pregnancies.

 

The Let’s Talk Campaign on Early and Unintended Pregnancies provides us with an opportunity to spark conversations at different levels in our communities as well as in our institutions.

 

It encourages us to engage different target audiences to focus on the role they can play in dealing with teenage pregnancies. 

 

The campaign also provides us with innovative strategies of engaging different audiences through multi-media such as making use of community based Champion stories, audio-visual materials with targeted messaging. 

 

The Campaign encourages us to agitate for positive change through three focus areas which are:

 

Health: we are called upon to increase access to sexual reproductive health services (SRHS) including contraceptives for all adolescents and young people without judgement and discrimination;

 

Education: we are encouraged to ensure adolescents have access to quality comprehensive sexuality education that will empower them to make informed life choices and prevent Early And Unintended Pregnancies, and

 

Rights: the campaign seeks to ensure that all adolescents and young people know their rights and are empowered to make decisions regarding their sexuality, health and education that will allow them to reach their full potential.

 

As a country we are fortunate that we have a favourable policy framework and programmatic areas that the Campaign can be plugged with to realise the focus areas.

 

These are housed under the innovative Integrated School Health Programmes. We are already providing school health services such as awareness on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, TB prevention, and HIV/Aids testing and other complementary services.

 

In conclusion, by your presence here today, it’s an indication of your solid commitment towards ensuring that our young girls can also have an equal chance at realising their full potential. 

 

I trust that today marks the beginning of a journey for us a country to harness the collective energy of our people so that together we march to victory. It is indeed too early to despair.

 

I thank you.

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Written By: DBE Webmaster
Date Posted: 11/6/2019
Number of Views: 90

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