Wed Sep 17 15:35:15 SAST 2014

Eish, I'm pregnant: juggling books, baby and life

Mar 17, 2013 | BONGIWE SITHOLE |

BEING a teenage mom is something Sibongile Ntshangase* least expected. And although her mother was supportive, her relatives' response was traumatic.

BABY STEPS: A teen mom returning from school walks with her child in Soweto. Picture by Tsheko Kabasia

"I had to live with all the insults and pretend as though I did not hear the harsh words directed at me," she says. "It was heartbreaking when I was told that I deserved it, that I was irresponsible and had ruined my life. Today I look at my little girl with no regrets, she fills me with all the happiness I yearn for."

Before falling pregnant Ntshangase, who lives in Jabulani, Soweto, was just like any other 17-year-old: young and care-free.

"I broke my virginity and conceived the same year, while in Grade 10. It felt weird. It was unbelievable at first. I used to think becoming a teenage mom happens to girls who are not streetwise," says Ntshangase.

The 19-year-old's daughter was conceived when she was 17 and using contraceptive pills because she was not using a condom.

"I took my pills regularly, then I missed one white pill and boom that was it. I tried getting my periods back by taking more of the red pills but it did not work."

She says after five weeks she knew something was wrong: "I started getting morning sickness, throwing up and felt tired and numb during the day."

Ntshangase says sex education was part of her life and she was aware of the consequences of unprotected sex.

At some point she thought of aborting the pregnancy.

"It really did cross my mind but morally I couldn't get to doing it. I feel it's a sin."

Unlike many teen moms, Ntshangase receives support from two families - hers and the baby's daddy.

"My mom has been supportive from day one."

Ntshangase is repeating Grade 11 at Greenlane College in the Joburg CBD this year and wants to study child psychology after matriculating, because she adores kids.

Her failing Grade 11 is a consequence of having to juggle school with parenting.

"It would have been a nightmare without my parents' support," she says.

"I still cannot go to school every day. I have to take her to the clinic for inoculation and when she is sick. She's always on my mind even when I am at school studying."

*Ntshangase is not her real name.

NATION OF TEEN MOMS:

IN A week where Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy held a seminar on teenage pregnancy and delivered a speech on how adolescent pregnancy affects learning, startling statistics were revealed.

Creecy says teenage pregnancy seldom changes a teenager's life in a positive way: "Consequently, young mothers miss out on their own development and often shelve educational and career dreams until later in life."

On average 124 schoolchildren fall pregnant every day. Statistics released by the Department of Health reveal that 94000 school girls across the country fell pregnant in 2011.

Between 2009 and 2010, nearly 80 000 girls younger than 18 fell pregnant.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY:

WHILE the spotlight fell on teenage and schoolgirls' pregnancy this week, University of Free State Chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen wrote in The Times: "Schoolchildren should be allowed to continue with their education. It is time that South Africa emerged from being stuck in a medieval past where the mere sight of a pregnant body was enough to banish the afflicted person from the classroom."

Jansen fails to understand what it is about pregnancy that gets South Africans up in arms.

". I tell schoolchildren that pregnancy is a beautiful thing and children are a blessing to all of us," he says.

Teachers' union Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi says that teachers who have a sexual relationship with pupils are also to blame.

"From what we read in the media, there is a rapid growth in the number of teachers in sexual relations with pupils. This needs to stop. Teachers are there to enrich the lives of children through education and prepare them to be responsible adults, not ruin their lives," says Cembi.

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Wed Sep 17 15:35:15 SAST 2014 ::

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