Following a plague of pregnancy that rocked Limpopo schools in 2018, the MEC of health in the province says she has reached an agreement with pupils that there was no room for pregnancy in their schools.
Dr Phophi Ramathuba visited the Mukhwantheli School, in Vhembe, where 36 pupils were reportedly pregnant last year.
She took to Twitter to make the announcement and has since been accused of wanting to exclude pregnant pupils.
“We agreed with pupils that MEC [Ishmael] Kgetjepe doesn’t appoint midwives he appoints teachers whose primary role is to teach so there is no room for pregnancy at school. When you are in labour at school you expect teachers to progress you and it’s unfair. They promised it won’t happen,” she tweeted.
Defending herself, Ramathuba argued that society needed to be brutal when tackling teenage pregnancy.
“Talking about pregnancy is not taboo. A lot has been done in terms of sex education. These kids know exactly what contraceptives are or how they work,”
“We need to be brutal in talking about these things and tell it like it is,” she said.
Last July, TimesLIVE reported that 27 pupils were confirmed pregnant at Molautsi Secondary School near Polokwane.
While Ramathuba received some criticism, she stood by her remarks.
“The only place you can find 36 pregnant learners at one go, is a maternity ward not a school. It is just unfair that a teacher must be expected to attend to one pregnant learner, who might be sick or suffering from morning sickness while the rest suffer and are deprived of their right to education,” she said.
The MEC said she visited various schools in the province, alongside young professionals who were motivating the pupils to focus on their studies.
“I was impressed when they told their stories, some were poor and orphaned, but did not use sex as a hobby nor an alternative way of entertainment,” she said.
The spokesperson for education in the province, Sam Makondo, said the pregnancy rate in the school had been alarming and awareness campaigns would be intensified.
“Teenage pregnancy is a social matter that needs everyone to be involved. Hence we are working with various non-profit organisations, parents and the department of social development,” he said.
Ramathuba also said teenage pregnancy was a factor in the low pass rate for matriculants in Limpopo, who came last in the 2018 matric results.