Minister Lindiwe Zulu Leads Anti-Teenage Pregnancy Campaign at Paarl School

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Precious Mupenzi

On the second day of the pre-State of the Nation Address (pre-SoNA) outreach activities, Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, visited Ihlumelo Junior Secondary School in Mbekweni, Paarl, to engage with young boys and girls on the issue of teenage pregnancy. The Minister’s visit is part of the week-long pre-SONA engagements taking place in the City of Cape Town. Minister Zulu was joined by Asanda Luwaca, Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), to hand over school shoes and dignitary packs to the school as part of an NYDA-led back-to-school initiative.

Over the festive period, the Department of Health reported that out of the 1,703 babies born on New Year’s Day at public health facilities, at least 190 were born to teenage mothers. A recent report indicated an increase in the number of pupils falling pregnant, with the Eastern Cape recording the highest number of teenage pregnancies at more than 12,500.

In light of these statistics, the Minister has initiated an outreach programme, collaborating with various stakeholders to address teenage pregnancy among schoolgirls. “Teenage pregnancy is a serious threat to girls’ education, as many drop out of school. I want to encourage you to learn from my mistakes of falling pregnant at a very young age. I was raised by my grandmother, and I got pregnant when I was 15 years old,” she said.

While the Department of Social Development and its agency, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), provide access to the child support grant and other social support measures through the Child Protection Act, the Minister emphasised the importance of discipline and encouraged pupils to focus on achieving their dreams and education. She highlighted education as the key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty in many families across the country.

Echoing the Minister’s sentiments, Asanda Luwaca explained that the NYDA remains committed to forging strategic relationships with communities to ensure youth development initiatives are implemented effectively. “As members of the community first, we have a common responsibility to serve the community and tend to its well-being. The challenges affecting our communities are not unique to those faced in our school. This requires us to create safe spaces for all, especially the most vulnerable members of our society,” Luwaca said.

Luwaca stressed that the NYDA’s Back to School programme is themed “Building Tomorrow Together,” reflecting the organisation’s belief that a better tomorrow will only be realised once the multiple social ills facing young people, such as gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy, are addressed. Restoring the dignity of the Black child is essential for uplifting young people. “Some among us have limited access to basics that others take for granted, such as school shoes and dignity essentials. Such acts are symbolic of pride and give confidence to young learners, knowing that they can walk to school in comfort,” Luwaca concluded, encouraging learners to continue being beacons of hope in their communities.

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