South Africa’s Limpopo province has been greeted by a tide of teenage pregnancy with a high school recording a staggering 36 pregnancies in the past year with 13 of the girls diagnosed with HIV.
According to local media Limpopo Mirror, the 36 pregnancies at the Mukhwantheli Secondary School in Dididi outside Thohoyandou was discovered during the visit of the Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba on Tuesday to launch the province’s School Health Week.
Most of the students are between the ages of 17 and 19 years old and were impregnated by fellow students. “I can speak without any fear of contradiction that there are no blessers taking advantage of our pupils. The pupils do this all by themselves,” the school principal Mashudu Maboho is quoted as saying.
“The high number of pregnancies by pupils leads to drop-outs and absenteeism … We have also engaged the services of psychologists to help with counselling to the pupils,” the principal added.
The Sowetan, an English-language South African daily newspaper which spoke with a grade 10 male pupil at the school who was found to have impregnated three girls reported that two of the girls he had impregnated have given birth while the third is due in December.
“I do odd jobs such as plumbing and electrical wiring during weekends and I hope to use the money to look after my children and their mothers,” said the 17-year-old boy.
The school’s governing board said it had no knowledge of the situation until the visit of the province official.
“It’s so sad that our children have fallen pregnant while at school. We are going to call parents to participate in the activities of the school with a view to assist the situation,” said the chairperson of the school governing body, Thakhani Munyai.
The Mukhwantheli Secondary School’s pregnancy surge comes three months after another school, Molautsi Secondary School, located in the same province recorded 27 pregnancies in July.
The majority of the pregnant students were in grade 12. An 18-year-old student gave birth to triplets and their father was a fellow student in the school.
The provincial authorities are calling on parents to talk to their children about sex and attend school meetings.
Mukhwantheli Secondary School principal Mashudu Maboho said the majority of parents work in other provinces and do not attend school meetings. He also blamed substance abuse as one of the problems in the school.