Predictors of unplanned pregnancies among female students at South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges: Findings from the 2014 Higher Education and Training HIV and AIDS survey

  • N Mbelle
  • M Mabaso
  • G Setswe
  • S Sifunda


Background. Unplanned pregnancies among college/tertiary female students pose a serious public health concern in South Africa (SA) and are associated with adverse health and social outcomes that impact negatively on educational progress and future career prospects.

Objectives. To examine the potential predictors of unplanned pregnancy among female students at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in SA.

Methods. This analysis used data drawn from the 2014 Higher Education and Training HIV and AIDS survey, which was a nationally representative survey of TVET college students in SA. Associations between unplanned pregnancy and the explanatory variables were assessed using bivariate analysis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify the effect of several independent predictors of unplanned pregnancy.

Results. Of 1 002 female students who responded to the question on unplanned pregnancy, 74.6% reported having had an unplanned pregnancy. Predictors significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of unplanned pregnancy among female TVET students included living with a husband (odds ratio (OR) 0.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.13 - 0.62; p=0.002), having two (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.23 - 0.88; p=0.003) or three (OR 0.07, 95% CI 0.01 - 0.39; p=0.003) previous pregnancies, and not having had an abortion (OR 0.16, 95% CI 0.04 - 0.62; p=0.008).

Conclusions. The high level of unplanned pregnancies is indicative of the state of women’s reproductive health services at SA TVET colleges. The findings suggest that certain groups of female students are at increased risk of unplanned pregnancy and would benefit from targeted family planning interventions tailored to their needs.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135