Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Teenage Fertility in Vhembe District in Limpopo Province, How High Is That?

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Teenage Fertility in Vhembe District in Limpopo Province, How High Is That?

Article excerpt

Abstract

Teenage pregnancy is a very big issue globally, but its magnitude in South Africa poses a grave concern. Alarming figures released by the Gauteng provincial education department indicate that school pregnancies have doubled from 2005 to 2006, despite a decade of spending on sex education and AIDS awareness. The effects of unplanned pregnancy and HIV are a particular concern limiting girls' future possibilities. In 2001, the Limpopo province had the highest fertility level in the country with an average of 5 children per woman. But the fertility level in Vhembe which is a district in Limpopo is low at 2.5 children. The study aims to determine the level of teenage fertility in the district and to recommend strategies to curb early pregnancies which turn to destroy the future of many young girls. Using a survey conducted in some municipalities in the district in 2010, this paper reveals that teenage fertility in Vhembe is rather higher. The proportion of teenage births in the district is far above 56 percent.

Keywords: higher fertility, sex education, contraception, deep poverty, Vhembe district

INTRODUCTION

Teenage pregnancy is a "disease" mostly in Africa and has a lot of social problems. It results in "overpopulation" and a very high proportion of youthful population. Besides, there are most noticeable consequences related to teenage pregnancies which include: school drop-out or interrupted education; waywardness and criminal activities; abortion; and child neglect; poverty etc. Pregnant teenagers are less likely to complete high school and attend tertiary institutions (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, AGI). Besides overpopulation, teenage pregnancy results in high infant mortality rate, an increase in underprivileged families, high maternal mortality, and other deaths due to sexually related diseases. The number of pregnant schoolgirls in the Gauteng province in South African jumped from 1169 in 2005 to 2336 in 2006 despite a decade of spending on sex education and AIDS awareness. In spite of the increase in programs aimed at preventing teenage pregnancies, the rate of teenage births is still very high. One in three girls has had a baby by the age of 20 (Harrison, 2008). In a country where HIV prevalence is 18.8 percent, the high level of teenage pregnancy has heightened concerns. The latest national survey into HIV prevalence recorded that 16 percent of pregnant women under the age of 20 years tested HIV positive (MRC, 2008).

In developed countries, teenage births are associated with many social issues, including lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty and other "poorer life outcomes." Teenage pregnancy in developed countries is usually outside of marriage, and carries a social stigma in many communities and cultures. In developing countries, however particularly in the "Arab world" teenage births are usually within marriage and does not involve social stigma (http://www.soundvision.com/info/teens). In some societies, early marriage and traditional gender roles are important factors in the rate of teenage births. For example, in sub-Saharan African countries, early birth is often seen as a blessing because it is a proof of the young woman's fertility. In the Indian subcontinent too, early marriage and births are more common in traditional rural communities compare to the rate in cities.

BACKGROUND

Teenage females have been underemphasized as a target group as far as fertility and socio-economic developments are concerned, even though pregnancy levels are high in this age group. The level of teenage fertility in South Africa is high, though has been declining over time (see table 1).

In South Africa, there was a concern raised in 2003 by the Department of Basic Education that teenage pregnancy among school learners was quite high, and that learner pregnancy rates were higher in schools located in poor areas and schools that were poorly resourced. Some people felt that the rise in teenage births was due to child support grant (CSG). …

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