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Shocking stats on pregnancies among girl learners in EC schools

Jul 28, 2018
Shocking stats on pregnancies among girl learners in EC schools

The Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE), in partnership with Eastern Cape Aids Council (ECAC) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), held their very first HIV, TB and STI’s Policy Implementation in School’s Conference, at the Regent Hotel in East London on the 17th – 19th July 2018. 

With statistics at an estimated 770 704 people living with HIV in the Eastern Cape and with 33 627 new HIV infections per year, it emerged that 2 030 girl learners, from the age of 10-19, terminated their pregnancies.

About 15 474 girl learners, between the ages of 10-19, delivered their babies at health facilities yearly.

Around 360 of those babies are delivered by girls between the age of 10-14 years old.  

Overall learner mortality by suicide in the Eastern Cape is 82, whilst 111 is due to violence.

With these alarming statistics, serious engagement took place at the Policy Implementation in Schools Conference.

Honourable Premier Phumlo Masualle said, “The number of new infections is astronomical, and this figure should shock us into implementation.” With education being a societal matter, it is key that parents, educators and all stakeholders involved work together.  

“We are guaranteed success if we work together, however we do not have the luxury of time.”

This being the very first conference of this nature, Muzi Ndlovu from the Department of Basic Education, outlined the goals of the policy are as follows just to mention a few:

· Improved access to HIV and TB prevention.

· Support services to reduce the incidence and impact of HIV and TB within the sector.

· Increased retention of learners, educators, school support staff and officials in a safe and protective education environment to improve system efficiency.

Ndlovu shared the most contentious topics within the policy, which was prevention, enabling environment and workplace issues. 

He also highlighted a critical aspect with regards to communication, and want teachers and School Governing Bodies to report back to their parents, that if a learner is 12 years old, they can sign assent for testing and the learner does not need the parents signature.

However, ECDoE is encouraging teachers to try their level best to get parents’ consent, “This will assist with after counselling support.”

In conclusion Ndlovu said, “Collaboration and meaningful engagement of all stakeholders is critical for the successful implementation of this policy.”