Windhoek-Teenage pregnancies in Kavango East Region drastically increased to 732 last year, compared to 498 in 2015, according to the director of education, Fanuel Kapapero. There are 60 327 learners in Kavango East.
Adolf Muremi, the senior education officer for HIV/AIDS in Kavango East and Kavango West, expressed concern that with the high teenage pregnancy rate is the possibility of a higher HIV rate.
“That possibility cannot be overruled because learners are engaged in unprotected sex,” said Muremi.
High teenage pregnancy is partly attributed to peer pressure. But a lack of parental involvement in educating children on sexual reproductive health is another reason, Muremi pointed out.
“Some parents know their children are involved in sexual relationships but they do nothing about it,” added Muremi.
“Some parents encourage their daughters to be involved in sexual relationships with men with money because of poverty.”
He said that girls often cannot negotiate for safer sex because the men they are engaged with are supporting them financially.
A teacher who impregnates a schoolchild can lose his job, according to the Public Service Act. However, it is difficult for other civil servants such as police officers and government employees to be dismissed because it may be difficult to prove they impregnated a school-going child, said Muremi – although the law can take its course.
Some learners may be impregnated by older men but use their school mates as surrogates to the deed, Muremi said.
However, when it comes to impregnating learners any man can be potentially responsible and it is not just a specific group, he added. “But there is a trend of out-of-school youth being some of the main culprits.”
The principal of Rukonga Vision School in Kavango East, Moses Gorengecho, said teenage pregnancy is not much of a problem at the school.
“From the group of learners that we started with in 2013 when we opened only three learners fell pregnant,” said Gorengecho.
He said the school also accepted learners from other schools when it officially opened its doors but “two or three fell pregnant during 2013 and 2014”.
According to him, poor moral values are the reason teenage pregnancies persist.
“At our school, gender education and discipline of both teachers and learners play a pivotal role in the low teenage pregnancy rates,” said Gorengecho.
Last year, Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School in Rundu (Kavango East) recorded 20 pregnancies, according to the life skills teacher, Amanda Efraim. And, so far, four pregnancies have been recorded this year at the school.
The principal of Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School, Emilia Mbangu, said learners are constantly reminded of the negative effects of teenage pregnancy. “Learners at the school are not allowed to date,” Mbangu emphasised.
Meanwhile, Muremi said the education directorate in Kavango East is hard at work to try to lessen the number of learners who fall pregnant. Teachers, learners, parents and community members are all included in the efforts to end this problem in the region.
“We have established health awareness clubs at schools where we give out information on sexual reproductive health and we work with various stakeholders such as the Society for Family Health in order to address this problem,” said Muremi.