Secondary school teachers’ experiences related to learner teenage pregnancies and unexpected deliveries at school
Background: The incidence of learner teenage pregnancies can be reduced, provided that the major stakeholders, which include the Department of Education and the Department of Health, combine to address this issue. Despite the implementation of Life Orientation as a school subject, which focuses on sexual behaviour, health, decision-making, pregnancy risk, sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS, the prevalence of learner teenage pregnancies at secondary schools remains alarmingly high.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe teachers’ experiences of learner teenage pregnancies in secondary schools in a province in South Africa.
Setting: Secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal.
Method: A qualitative approach with exploratory, descriptive and contextual strategies was used in this research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with teachers who had been selected through purposive sampling. Tesch’s steps of systematic open coding were used to analyse all of the interviews.
Results: The results that emerged during the data analysis indicate that firstly, teachers’ experiences of having pregnant learners in their classrooms are negative as these learners are frequently absent from school, perform badly and drop out of school. Secondly, teachers’ experiences related to unexpected deliveries are coloured by their lack of the necessary skills and competencies to deal and their resultant insecurity. Thirdly, the teachers feel that they do not receive the assistance they need to deal with teenage pregnancies as well as unexpected deliveries.
Conclusions: Collaboration between and continuous support from the Department of Health and the Department of Education are crucial if teenage pregnancies at secondary schools are to be handled with greater success. Support from health care personnel should include guidance on contraception and health campaigns should target both the teachers and secondary school learners. Furthermore, coping strategies for the teachers should form part of the preservice curriculum of teachers.
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