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Opinion - Protecting the girl child

2021-03-19  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Protecting the girl child
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Jan Scholtz


This article seeks to give an overview of what causes the increase in teenage pregnancies in Namibia. The increase in number of teenagers, who become pregnant each year, especially in Namibia, has a topic of serious concerns within the whole society.

Different sources quoted alarming statistics: in 2007, there was 1 465 pregnancy-related school dropout in Namibia. Just five months into 2018, the Oshana and Ohangwena regions have both recorded 232 teenage pregnancies (The Namibian, 31 May 2018); the //Kharas region recorded during the period from January to March 2018, a total of 733 pregnancies. Khomas (3 764) and Omusati (3 440) (The Namibian, 14 January 2021)

The phenomenon has become widely spread and it’s now a social problem. When examined closely, it looks as if there is no single answer to account for the rising teenage pregnancy. Rather, it becomes apparent that there are many interacting variables that may be taken into account.

This ugly phenomenon has generated a lot of concern and we are therefore very eager to find the causes and effect of the increase of teenage pregnancy, since girls, in their teens, are getting pregnant frequently and facing many problems, in which health complications is the most serious one. They incur the risk of succumbing to prostitution instead of good housewives and move around with elderly men known as “sugar daddies”. 

They lose their bride prize because of the teenage pregnancy at an early age and face difficulties during pregnancy and delivery (The Namibian, 22 January 2021) 

Given these alarming statistics, the education sector policy on the prevention and management of learner pregnancy was signed on 12 April 2012. Six guiding principles govern this policy.

Right to education, prevention, information, respect of the right to freedom of choice for both boys and girls support the pregnant learners to complete their education and respect of culture and family.

It is worth mentioning that some regions seem to face challenges implementing this policy according to the New Era dated 25 January 2021.

As stated in Sacker and Neuhoff, “although many teenage pregnancies occur out of wedlock, a vast majority of teenage mothers are married by their early twenties”, some parents force their teenage daughters into early marriage before they become psychologically mature to face parenthood. 

Thus, most of them become pregnant teenagers before they get to understand their feelings. Early marriage leads to early childbearing, continuous pregnancies and resulting in a large family, deepening the cycle of poverty. 

(The Namibian, 28 January 2021) Lack of complete parental care including mono-parental household is a crucial factor adversely influencing the behaviour of children.  

This general agreement of opinion emphasises the importance of the role of the parent in the formative years of a child. Children, as dependent beings in all respects. (Childhood days), have the right to be given the right kind of instructions and parental supervision and guidance if they should behave in socially acceptable ways of society. Failure to give them both proper guidance and control is, psychologically a form of grave deprivation comparable, in some ways, to lack of love and affection to the child. If such deprivation is not looked at on time, or at all, it will lead the child to ugly behaviour that may make the child deviant in society. (New Era, 25 January 2021).

Cohen (1955), states “the world outside the family is a crucial factor in the deviant behaviour”, the school is part of the environment. There is a tendency for the children to be influenced by what they observe, smoking, alcohol, drug use, fighting, foul language, etc. If a child lives in a well – organised environment and goes to a school where deviant behaviour is not seen or allowed, that child would have decent friends. If the environment from home, surrounding and school is bad, friends will learn deviant behaviour. Scalt (1954) confirms the view the children learn to become delinquent or deviant by becoming members of groups in which deviant behaviour is practised.

Mays (1954), believes that “togetherness is an important factor in human development, the very desire to associate to other children and to own their respect and affection can lead to deviant behaviour.”

All these can be due to the environment in which the child lives. Teenage pregnancy is said to be deviant behaviour, especially out of wedlock, because society has called it a labelling theory of deviant behaviours, which starts in the sixties centuries on reaction to rule behaving of labelling behaviours by society. Deviant is a consequence of the name of the behaviours, once wrong or right of the society.


Effects of teenage pregnancies

Pregnancy and motherhood are the major reasons that some learners leave school. Most of the female dropouts from school are as a result of pregnancy, marriage and the economic status of parents. (New Era, 29 January 2021). The teenagers’ ability to return to school after childbirth and due to Covid-19 will be difficult. (The Namibian, 14 January 2021).

A psychological drop in self - motivation to pursue education is another setback. The teenagers who postpone childbirth have a greater amount of self-motivation and support/help in the family and peer group. For teenage mothers, family background places a unique and very important role in school completion. Those girls from more advanced families, few siblings, a father with formal education, and intact family have a better chance of being supported emotionally.

The world we live in is a melting point of different inputs. 

In conclusion, a holistic review of traditional preconceptions, legislative stances and family operation is required to remedy and preserve the condition of the girl child.

2021-03-19  Staff Reporter

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