Thursday, October 22, 2020

Teen pregnancies peak despite Birth Control Education

Despite a gradual shift in policy away from abstinence to Birth control education ÔÇô teenage pregnancies have peaked and rural Batswana teens are not getting sufficient formal instruction about birth control methods.

Birth control education has been waning across Botswana for some time, but most teen boys and girls, mostly from the rural areas, are not cognisant of birth control methods. Over the past few years, the proportion of teen girls who were taught about saying no to sex but not about birth control grew from 22 to 28 percent.

The McKinsey study also notes that high rate of teenage pregnancy is one factor that stops women and girls from reaching their full potential. Whilst the minister of Education Unity Dow once admitted that teenage pregnancies were a challenge confronting Batswana students, she also added that Botswana is milestones ahead in the provision of life skills based education explaining that her approach was considerate of content relevance that was age appropriate, accurate and thorough in sexuality education. 

Some of these programmes are Botswana National Life Skills Framework (2010), a guiding document for life skills programmes for pre-primary, primary and secondary school levels for ages four to 18 years.  The guidance and Counselling Curriculum Guidelines/ Syllabi is designed and developed to comprehensively address sexuality education at these different levels both at lower primary, upper primary, junior and senior secondary levels and integration and infusion of sexuality education across the curriculum. While McKinsey cites income inequality as the main driving force behind youth pregnancies, it also pointed out that the other main issue is lack of education.

Currently, teen pregnancy rates peaked in the last few years most drastically in cities and towns that provide comprehensive sex education, perpetuate cultural attitudes that discourage teen parenthood, and have accessible contraception services.

Even though programs to prevent teen pregnancy have received government’s funding in recent years, their scope may not be broad enough to have had a significant national impact, researchers say. A Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance Survey which was conducted three years ago revealed that 19.1 percent of school-going youth were sexually active by age 13.  It also revealed that 9.4 percent were mothers while about nine percent of boys were reported to have impregnated someone.

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