ACDP MP, Marie Sukers

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP says learner pregnancy crisis deepens as policy chaos continues

Nov 15, 2023

ACDP Member of Parliament, and Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Marie Sukers, highlighted the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) policy crisis by pointing out that their own research indicated that the Scripted Lesson Plans (SLPs), that they had put so much hope in, were ineffective.

These sentiments were echoed by Adv. Nthabiseng Sepanya Mogale, Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, who lambasted the DBE for its failure to implement policies on learner pregnancy that would protect leaners from predatory teachers, and would tackle the real causes of the pandemic on learner pregnancy.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Adv Mogale claimed that “policies were gathering dust, and that there was a real crisis on the ground”.

In July 2019, the final report of the Impact Evaluation of a School-Based Sexuality and HIV-Prevention Education Activity in South Africa study was issued. This two-year study measured the impact of SLPs on the sexual activity of learners by testing the incidence of the HSV-2 (genital herpes) infection before and after the implementation of the SLPs as an indicator of sexual activity.

The conclusion was that “Multivariate results demonstrated that the incidence of HSV-2 was not statistically different between the intervention and control groups.” And “few outcomes from this study demonstrate that the revised SLP life orientation programme had a positive impact on HIV prevention and related behaviours”.

Sukers stated that, “The report is clear evidence that the SLP programme of the DBE does not work – based on the DBE’s own research”. She then wanted to know “Why the DBE decided to proceed with funding a programme for which their own research, from as far back as 2019, had indicated failure?”

The Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools policy was Gazetted in Dec 2021 and has since come into effect.

According to Section 7 of the National Education Policy Act, once a policy has been gazetted it must be tabled in Parliament. Sukers questioned if this had been done with this policy, and asked if it was being implemented lawfully. She stated that, “If the policy has not been lawfully implemented, all monies spent on this project will have been spent on a policy that is not legally compliant.”

She then went on to call on the Auditor General and the Internal Audit Department of the DBE to report on this situation, after pointing out that the DBE have failed to effectively answer her questions.

Sukers said confusion is an example of the chaos that engulfs this policy.

“After the Commission for Gender Equality’s indication that this policy is not working, and research showing that the approach adopted is ineffective, there certainly is a legal question mark over this policy”, Sukers added.

The ACDP welcomes the fact that the Deputy Minister, Reginah Mhaule, stated that the ministry invites solutions to the crisis.

“We are committed, as the ACDP, to working with a coalition of civil society organisations to propose a comprehensive, effective, and research-based programme to tackle learner pregnancy”, Sukers concluded.

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