The Eastern Cape Education has recognised Activator, Zoleka Mtiya’s bold programme in rolling out teenage school pregnancy awareness programmes in schools in Port Elizabeth.
Upon noticing a worrying teenage pregnancy growing trend, Mtiya decided to lead the “end teenage pregnancy” campaign because teenage pregnancy among school going girls doesn’t only just add high number of unplanned babies but also destroys a young girl’s future.
According to Mtiya’s observations, parents of affected young girls are either not around or dead. So majority of these young girls depend on their grandparents’ social grants and maybe that too create this perception that government support is one of the easier ways to survive.
Mtiya lamented how social stereotypes that only condemn girls and forget that actually teenage pregnancy is equally a responsibility of boys involved. “Our society continues to fail our boys, we do not prepare them to become responsible fathers. While young teenage mothers are constantly put under serious pressure in our societies, schools, churches but still young fathers go around as if they have not done anything wrong. Instead of that they are given some heroic titles.” she said
She went on to explain the financial implications of teenage pregnancy for these poor girls: “In order to address such a serious issue effectively, one has to be very creative. To be creative
I normally use exercises (I learned at ACTIVATE! training) like the wash line method. It is through this planning exercise we discovered that they need a minimum of R47 200.00 a year to raise their kids. We all know that a social grant isn’t event close to that amount.” Mtiya explained.
The provincial education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said, “The Eastern Cape Department of Education is very happy to hear that young people (like Zoleka Mtiya) are taking initiative to address some of social ills like teenage pregnancy among school going kids. The fact that these young people’s interventions are in line with our Life Orientation curriculum excites us even more. I am sure their participation in this issue will yield positive results. Even history books tell us that youth leadership in addressing issues like drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and reproductive health is more influential than elders or government officials lead campaigns.”
Social change drivers throughout South Africa also commended Mtiya’s brave intervention. Activator and psychologist, Thulisa Mayekiso said “Raising a child isn’t just costly financially. There are many other challenges that come into play for married parent couples, working single mothers. I can’t even explain how tough must it be for unemployed, emotional unready school going teenage girls who are forced to grow quicker mentally and emotionally. To some, getting pregnant somehow means an end of their dreams or aspirations as they are forced to forfeit their childhood privileges.”
“I am not just talking from a psychologist’s point of view. I have single parenting first-hand experience. I had to spend more than R1500 per month on nappies, milk, toiletries, and medication clothes on my eight months old daughter. I had a steady income. I cannot explain how difficult that must be for a minor.”
Concerned fellow Eastern Cape based social change driver and teenage mother, Isasiphinkosi Mdingi praised Mtiya’s brave intervention. Talking from her experience, Mdingi described teenage pregnancy among school going girls as a multi-layered social ill whose roots go beyond social grant or any form of financial support from government, families. “To me, it’s more than money. It is a big issue that government has paid little attention to. I think government’s decision to give grants and less sex education also contributes to this problem. I have seen young girls dropping out. The pain that young girls experience once they get pregnant is really difficult to handle. Many commit suicide because they cannot take it.”
In keeping the spirit of women empowerment, all patriot South Africans are encouraged to follow a good example set by Mtiya. This could be teaching young boys and girls about the important of abstinence.