To kick off the academic year, Nkumbulo Secondary School in Ekurhuleni received a visit from the MEC of health and wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.
Identified schools for the campaign
A handful of underprivileged students were identified by the school and the department of health for a back-to-school campaign. On Wednesday morning Nkomo-Ralehoko handed over donations to the principal Thandi Kubeka.
Donations included school shoes, dignity packs, sanitary towels and other essentials. The MEC was joined by Ekurhuleni executive mayor Sivuyile Ngodwana.
Nkomo-Ralehoko addressed the issue of teenage pregnancy that is a big concern in schools. She also encouraged the learners to focus on their studies and finish off strong this year.
Cautioned against risky behaviours
She said: “Abantwana bami (My children), risky sexual behaviour and substance abuse are some of the areas where peer pressure can be particularly influential and dangerous. Engaging in sexual activity at a young age can have severe consequences. These are both physically and emotionally, including socially and economically.
“It can lead to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and disrupt your education. Therefore, you must understand the risks involved. Make informed decisions about your bodies and, ultimately, your futures.”
She stated that the government has committed to to partnering with various sectors to address the problem of teenage pregnancy. These include faith-based organisations, traditional authorities, youth formations, academic institutions and civil society.
According to a report by the Department of Basic Education in 2021, one in three girls aged between 10 and 19 years falls pregnant. The statistics revealed that these girls do not return to school after giving birth.
She said that children between the ages of 14 and 19 years give birth at health facilities across the province.
“In this current financial year, we have already recorded over 13, 700 babies born of teenage mothers,” she said.
She furthermore motivated learners to pay a visit to clinics before engaging in sexual relationships. Here they will receive information and comprehensive reproductive health advice. These will help them make informed decisions.
The MEC told students that they have the potential to make their dreams a reality. However, they should be prepared to fight for the future of their dreams. She also encouraged the learners to say “no” to peer pressure.
As she waved goodbye to the students she wished them all the best for the academic year. She also pleaded with them to appreciate their educators.