University of South Africa: Addressing teenage pregnancy and sexual health in schools

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Risenga said that the CA80-School Health and Integrated Project (SHIP) has been active in the Limpopo Province for several years, and close relationships have been forged with the Department of Education.

The CA80-SHIP received a training request from the NGO. The proposal was related to community health care workers’ training regarding sexual reproductive health and teenage pregnancy. “After the call for help from a health professional, Dr Nkhensani Mukoki, we felt a need to come on board and assist,” explained Risenga. She further explained that teenage pregnancy predisposes teenagers to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, which is growing at an alarming rate in South Africa.

Risenga asserted that to curb the problem, schools should be targeted to help learners understand the implications of unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy. She added that there is a need to reinforce the importance of sex education and health promotion in schools around Mopani District in the province, as teenage pregnancy affects both primary and secondary schools in the region.

During the workshop, the CA80 team identified adolescents with special needs, provided counselling to pregnant teenagers, and shared strategies to reduce teenage pregnancy, improve adolescent self-awareness and the safe use of social media.

The caregivers demonstrated how they would use their communication skills to counsel pregnant teenagers and their parents. Given the workshop’s success, the NGO and Unisa proposed creating opportunities to work on future collaborations. The NGO will also soon apply the training they received from Unisa to address learners in a local school with a high teenage pregnancy rate.

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