TACKLING TEENAGE PREGNANCY: INSIGHTS FROM SOUTH AFRICA’S STAKEHOLDER WORKSHOP

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By Cuma Pantshwa and Precious Mupenzi

  • The Department of Social Development’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit hosted a Stakeholder Validation Workshop at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria as part of preparations for Child Protection Month. The focus was on understanding the Government’s response to teenage pregnancy in South Africa through a diagnostic evaluation.
  • Mr Gift Mmoletsane, Assistant Director of Programme and Policy Evaluation, highlighted the concerning rise in teenage pregnancies, stressing the vital role of education in mitigating this issue. Key stakeholders called for inter-governmental collaboration and multi-sectoral support to tackle the root causes of teenage pregnancy.
  • The workshop revealed gaps in children’s representation and identified predictors and determinants of teenage pregnancy. With the launch of Child Protection Week approaching, stakeholders aim to implement comprehensive, multi-sectoral interventions to safeguard the well-being of South Africa’s youth.

As South Africa gears up to observe Child Protection Month (CPM), a pivotal campaign aimed at safeguarding the rights of children, the Department of Social Development’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit convened a Stakeholder Validation Workshop today at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria. The primary focus of the workshop was a diagnostic evaluation to understand the Government’s response to teenage pregnancy in South Africa.

Mr Gift Mmoletsane, Assistant Director of Programme and Policy Evaluation at the Department of Social Development, outlined the alarming trend of increasing teenage pregnancies in the country. He referenced statistics from the Department of Basic Education, revealing a rise from 87,000 deliveries to girls as young as 10 in 2017 to 136,000 deliveries the following year. This surge underscores the urgent need for government intervention to address the root causes of this pervasive issue. Mmoletsane also stressed the crucial role of education in mitigating teenage pregnancies, advocating for robust programmes and policies to support girls’ continued education.

The research study, spanning four provinces with high prevalence rates of teenage pregnancy, aimed to establish the nature, size, and driving factors of the issue across provinces. Additionally, it sought to assess the relevance and responsiveness of government interventions in addressing teenage pregnancies. During the workshop, key stakeholders, including UNICEF, the Department of Basic Education, SANAC, Statistics South Africa, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and the Department of Health, called for more inter-governmental collaboration and multi-sectoral support to find solutions to teenage pregnancy. Fragmentation among government departments emerged as a significant obstacle, with stakeholders emphasis ing the need for cohesive efforts in information-sharing and solution creation.

The workshop facilitated a robust dialogue, revealing gaps such as the absence of children’s representation in discussions and studies. Stakeholders stressed the importance of including children and families in such dialogues to ensure comprehensive solutions. The findings of the report highlighted predictors and determinants of teenage pregnancy, including partner and peer-related factors, sexual health knowledge and behaviour, parenting and family dynamics, economic, environmental, and cultural factors, personal attitudes, and the quality of healthcare services. These insights underscored the multifaceted nature of the issue and the need for holistic interventions.

On May 19, 2024, the official launch of Child Protection Week will mark a significant milestone in South Africa’s commitment to safeguarding children’s rights. Preceding the flagship campaign, a pivotal workshop, led by the Department of Social Development, heightened awareness of children’s rights, particularly in light of the nation’s 30 years of democracy. Teenage pregnancy remains a central focus, highlighting the ongoing challenges facing the country. The research study, conducted over a year in four provinces, provided stakeholders with essential insights, emphasising the imperative of a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to address teenage pregnancy effectively.

During the presentation of the Diagnostic Evaluation Report, Antonio Hercules, Lead Researcher from Rapideval, provided critical insights into the policy landscape, gaps, and recommendations for improvement. The report highlighted shortcomings in data management, coordination and management of programs, and evidence of comprehensive integrated planning for teenage pregnancy interventions. Stakeholders unanimously agreed on the need for enhanced leadership, coordination efforts, and meaningful youth engagement to address the issue effectively. Through collaborative efforts and diligent monitoring, stakeholders aim to implement targeted interventions to mitigate teenage pregnancy and safeguard the well-being of South Africa’s youth.

 

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