Minister of Education, Skills and Development Douglas Letsholathebe has revealed that children in primary as young as Standard 4 have fallen pregnant. Letsholathebe, responding to a parliamentary question yesterday, said children are at risk of becoming pregnant from the age of sexual maturity which can be as young as age 10.
“Sadly, children in primary schools as young as in Standard 4 have been reported to be pregnant,” Letsolathebe further disclosed. Letsholathebe also indicated that his ministry has 378,150 primary learners in primary school. In 2021, 13 children dropped out of primary school due to pregnancy from a total of 1,085 learners who dropped out from primary education nationwide.
“At secondary level, my ministry has 192,151 learners in school. In 2021, 366 children dropped out of secondary school due to pregnancy from a total of 2,566 learners who dropped out of secondary education nationwide,” Letsholathebe said. He added the central region of Botswana accounts for the highest percentage of school dropouts for both teen pregnancy and other reasons, standing at a staggering 45%. Letsholathebe was responding to Maun East Member of Parliament (MP), Goretetse Kekgonegile's question that sought national statistics on teen pregnancy in Botswana. Furthermore, according to the statistics on dropouts as a result of pregnancy presented by the minister, the central region is followed by Kweneng and South regions at 13%, North West at seven percent, South East and Kgatleng at six percent, Kgalagadi at five percent, North East and Gantsi at three percent and a clean sheet from Chobe.
However, Letsholathebe pointed out that government has not folded its arms on the situation citing that they have been working with other departments to provide social services on such issues to learners. “My ministry acknowledges that our data on teenage pregnancy is often challenged as reasons for dropping out of school are sometimes fabricated. My ministry relies on our partners including the Ministry of Health for reporting more accurate statistics on the prevalence of teenage pregnancy as they record live births in clinics and hospitals,” Letsholathebe further stated.
The minister further said other steps are being considered to enhance learning in the school curriculum on sexual health reproduction education.