THE IMPACT OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS


THE IMPACT OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS  

Abstract

The Namibia Demographic Survey in 2013 revealed that about one out of five teenagers aged 15 to 19 were either pregnant or had given birth. The United Nations report for the same year believes that about 127 girls get pregnant every day in Namibia. The aim of this article was to find out the impact of teenage pregnancy on academic performance of Grade 7 learners at a school in the Zambezi Region. A qualitative research method was used in this article and two teachers and 4 pregnant learners were interviewed. The findings for this study revealed the reasons why these teenagers get pregnant as follows: lack of parental care and control, lack of some material needs, poor peer guidance, lack of sex education, and the influence of alcohol and drug abuse. The impact of teenage pregnancy on academic performance included poor academic performance after the pregnancy, increase dropout because of pregnancy related issues and negative feeling on schooling.

CHAPTER ONE

1. Introduction

Spencer [1] defines teenage pregnancy as pregnancy occurring in a young girl between the age of 13 and 19, whereas Macleod [2] defines it as a social problem in which adult practices and functions (sexual intercourse, reproduction, mothering) are displayed by a person who, owing to her age and developmental status, is not-yet-adult, that is, adult, but not adult, child, but not child. Pregnancies are a result of sexual activities either voluntary or not. One of the most traumatic and devastating effects on teenage pregnancy is making it difficult for the girl to continue with her education.

In Namibia, more than 46,000 teenagers were pregnant in 2013 which translates into about 127 girls every day a United Nations report revealed. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) these statistics were released in commemoration of World Population Day, celebrated on 11 July every year. When the statistics were compiled, there were 245,431 teenage girls in Namibia aged between 15 and 19. The report said the figures are higher in some regions, and Zambezi is no exception with 20% of teenagers in some rural areas becoming mothers earlier than their counterparts in urban areas [3] .

More so, the fact that most parents pay less attention to their children, coupled with the fact that teenagers today are growing up in a culture way in which peers, television and motion pictures, music and magazine often transmit either covert or overt message on unmarried sexual relationship (specifically those involving teenagers) are commonly accepted and at times expected behavior have contributed immensely to the moral decadence rampant among our teenagers. Even though the educational system promotes education as a pillar of responsible sexual behavior and specific information about the consequences of sexual intercourse (including teenage pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases and psychological effects) that are frequently not offered at home, or in the community settings. Students seem not to be doing well in this domain as many get pregnant every year. Therefore, much of the sex education teenagers receive filters through misinformed and/or unified peers.

One major contemporary social problem confronting most countries in the world is teenage pregnancy. From the first world countries such as the United states to the third world countries, this problem has been a source of worry for policy makers, social workers and other human service providers due to its negative repercussions on the girl-child Kaufman [4] .

1.1. Problem Statement

It has been observed that teenage pregnancy has remained persistent in our local communities due to various contributing factors and has had negative impacts on the life of the teenagers involved. Panday et al. [5] affirm that teenage mothers are unlikely to complete high school education (i.e. secondary school education). The non-completion of a secondary school education limit the life earning potentials among the teenage population, which could perpetuate the cycle of impoverishment among them. Based on this, the study is therefore, concerned with the identification and assessment of the causes and impact of teenage pregnancy on the academic performance of the teenagers at a selected school as well as exploring various strategies through which it can be avoided, or tackled in local government areas, so as to enable teenage mothers and fathers as well as sexually active teenagers who would have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy to achieve their educational and career goals. Understanding the impact of teenage pregnancy differences in the background of the learners on their academic performances prompts the researchers to address the following probing question:

1.2. Research Questions

The research questions for this article are as follows:

1) What is the impact of teenage pregnancy on the academic performance of Grade 7 learners at the selected school?

2) How do we limit the impact of teenage pregnancy among learners at the case school?

1.3. Significance of the Study

The significance of the study is to shade light in our current pregnancy policy and how to improve it and to ensure that regulations are forced at ground level for school girls who get pregnant to be re-integrated in the mainstream educational system. In most cases, schoolgirls who become pregnant in rural areas and towns have to either resort to unsafe abortions or they face official school expulsion due to pregnancy. According to the Namibian policy, a girl may continue with her education after giving birth, provided that the principal if no social worker is readily available is satisfied that the infant will be cared for by a responsible adult. Furthermore the learner-parent and her parents, primary caretaker or guardian provide a signed statement with an exposition on how the infant will be cared for and an undertaking to maintain open communication with the school. The learner may choose to return to school as soon as she can supply the specified documentation or she may choose to take a longer period of leave up to a maximum of one calendar year from the date on which she left school because of the pregnancy. She may take a longer leave of absence, but then her place at school will not be reserved. In order to ensure that her place at school will be reserved during her leave, the learner and her family must maintain clear communication with the school regarding the date on which she intends to return.

Those most likely to benefit from the findings of this study are the Ministry of Education and the school management, especially in the formulation and strengthening of policies that guard teenage pregnancies in schools and the possible re-admission of the affected girls back to school. While in many settings, rules are currently being liberalized to provide for possibility of re-entry, the number of those returning back to school is still very low. And due to the fact that a pregnant schoolgirl has to choose between dropping out of school and undergoing an abortion in order to remain in school, poses a high cost associated with becoming pregnant while still in school. On the other hand, boys who get the girls pregnant do not face the same risks.

In the Namibian educational systems the ministry of education has also included life skill education programs in their school curriculum in an attempt to educate adolescents about the consequences and responsibilities associated with sexual activity. The high rates of schoolgirl pregnancies suggest that these life skill programs have their shortcomings and indicate that educational policies should be used not only to reduce the incidence of schoolgirl pregnancies but also to assist pregnant schoolgirls to complete their education. For example at the research site traditionally teenage pregnancy has been accepted even celebrated as transition for young girls becoming women in their community.

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THE IMPACT OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS



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