Teen pregnancy high despite sex education in South Africa

South Africa has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in sub-Saharan Africa with statistics showing that about 16-percent of women aged between 15 and 19 are teenage mothers.

This is a disproportionately high number for a country where sex education is part of the national curriculum and free contraception is widely available.

CGTN’s Julie Scheier takes a look at some of the reasons behind the high teenage pregnancy rates.

Not so long ago, South Africa’s department of basic education, UNESCO and the Swedish government hosted a high-level policy dialogue on comprehensive sexuality education. The meeting was attended by delegates from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Sweden.

The release of an international guidance report on comprehensive sexuality education aimed at helping governments develop an evidence-based and human rights-focused approach to sex education was released not long after.

“Governments and the education sector in sub-Saharan Africa have both an opportunity and urgent responsibility to scale up sexuality education,” said Unesco east Africa regional director Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta.

“Young people should have no need to be cynical of this type of education in the classroom. They should see it as their right to know, as their right to engage”.

Feminists and civil society activists around the world have been pushing for improved sex education that extends beyond simply “be wise, condomise” or, worse still, failed abstinence campaigns or pictures of putrefied genitals rife with sexually transmitted diseases.

That guidance report by UNESCO – the first of its kind in almost a decade – is supposed to be the answer to those calls since it explores a variety of key concepts, topics and learning objectives that should be included in sex education for different age groups.