Teen pregnancy relegates young moms to poverty
TEENAGE PARENTING is not a contagious disease and should not keep young mothers from completing their education.
Yet in South Africa, girls face eviction from school after becoming pregnant because that is the cultural norm.
Many in South Africa believe that mothers should care for their homes. So despite rights established postapartheid, allowing all South Africans to receive an equal education, having a child can prevent a teen mother from completing high school.
Without a high school degree, teen mothers are virtually frozen from the job market, relegating them to lives of poverty.
In Mabopane, a township 18 miles outside Pretoria, the treatment of teen mothers is typical of what they face in South Africa.
At the local high school, where students in one class can range from 14 to 18, teachers said they believe all students should receive an education. But they contend that pregnant teens should not attend class with younger students, who are not pregnant and are not parents, because it is a bad influence.
One teacher suggested that young mothers "need a special school of their own."
Despite their challenges, there is a beacon of hope for teen mothers in Mabopane. A faith-based community empowerment organization called Lesedi La Batho has begun to provide free child care, allowing teen mothers to attend school.
The organization works from the premise that all teen mothers deserve an education and should not face discrimination in continuing their education.
"Women are the most important part of this country," said Chrisna Groenewald, managing director of Lesedi, adding that if the community can be a help to the women, then success will surely follow.
- Janice Durrant, Philadelphia
"I gained more of a foundation for those who
are lacking necessities in life. Not all individuals
without are lazy; sometimes they are stuck."