The department of basic education in South Africa has made available condom vending machines in some schools in a bid to decrease teenage pregnancies and the incidence of HIV/Aids.
The provision of condoms is one of the services offered in a programme targeting adolescent girls and young women aged 10 to 19.
Working with the department of health, the programme provides a range of services, including HIV testing, emergency contraception when a child is raped, and screening, investigation and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
Granville Whittle, one of the department’s deputy directors-general, told parliament on Tuesday during a briefing on teenage pregnancies that the programme also provides support for teen parents on how they can take care of their babies.
“Girls don’t drop out because they fall pregnant; they fall pregnant because they dropped out and so schooling is a protective factor,” said Whittle.
“We don’t deny services to boys coming forward to say they want access to services. We provide testing for HIV and condom distribution for boys when they come and ask for them,” he said.
Rape & societal problems
The programme is being offered in districts with a high prevalence of HIV/Aids and teen pregnancies.
“Schools are being encouraged to report pregnancy, particularly those involving children under 14, because that’s rape.”
The deputy minister of basic education, Reginah Mhaule, told parliament that teenage pregnancy was a societal matter.
She said the statistics indicated that “most of these young girls are impregnated at home … by relatives, by their biological fathers, stepfathers and uncles”.
Figures for national deliveries in facilities by the department of health revealed that 132,612 girls aged 15 to 19 fell pregnant in 2020 and a further 35,209 between January and March this year.
A shocking 3,774 girls aged 10-14 years fell pregnant last year and 1,053 in the first three months of this year.