Proposed Learner Pregnancy Policy - More Questions than Answers

Learner Pregnancy PRESS RELEASE: 10 JULY 2018


SUBJECT: Proposed Learner Pregnancy Policy – More Questions than Answers

On 3 June 2018, Cause for Justice (CFJ) delivered its written submissions on the Draft National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy (the Policy) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The public has until 30 July to make submissions on the draft Policy to the DBE.

According to StatsSA, approximately 14 percent of live births recorded in 2016 were to mothers (girls) between the ages of 10 and 19.

The DBE acknowledged that the rate of learner pregnancy in South Africa is a major social, systemic and fiscal challenge for both the basic education sector and for national development and South Africa as a whole – and often has an adverse socio-economic impact on the lives of many young people. CFJ believes that girls should be provided with a caring and compassionate educational environment which enables them to complete their basic education while pregnant and/or raising a child.

However, CFJ is concerned about the proposed Policy solutions. The draft Policy’s stated goal is:

The goal of the Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy is to reduce the incidence of learner pregnancy  through the provision of quality comprehensive sexuality education and access to adolescent and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. It should promote the Constitutional Rights of girls..

The content of the proposed Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum has not been provided and consequently meaningful public engagement is significantly diminished. Recent studies indicate that “It is far more likely to see evidence of failure than success in international school-based CSE” and that CSE “may be doing more harm than good”. Therefore, providing the content of the proposed CSE curriculum is crucial to enable the public to determine whether to support the Policy or not. CFJ has submitted a list of specific questions to the DBE, which, if answered, will enable meaningful engagement with the draft Policy.

It is CFJ’s view that:

  • While education about healthy sexuality and sexual choices has an important role to play in assisting learners to make choices that are in their best interest, (1) the method, (2) the message (content of the education) and (3) by whom the education is done, are critical questions in formulating a just policy response to the issue of prevention and management of learner pregnancies;
  • Sex education is the privilege and responsibility of parents/guardians, seeing as sexuality is informed – as with other aspects of the human identity – by family values and community/religious beliefs and customs;
  • Any governmental learner pregnancy policy must recognise that parental rights take precedence, as parents are the primary educators and care givers of their children;
  • Schools should not promote abortion to children (as part of so-called “Sexual and Reproductive Health Services”) as a means for managing an “unintended” pregnancy.

CFJ supports the DBE (and government) serving learners and acting in their best interest – through the intervention of their parents and legal guardians, e.g. by providing parents and legal guardians with training on matters such as the sexual habits of children, the importance of teaching children about healthy sexuality and sexual choices and its consequences.



For further queries, contact CFJ at:
Tel: 083 235 1511


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