Media Release: FASD Awareness with High school learners of Bloekombos
11 September 2017
Media Release: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) Awareness with High school learners of Bloekombos
The world commemorated Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day on Saturday, 9 September. To mark this important day, Western Cape Ministers, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Ms Debbie Schafer held an educational session about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.
Ministers Mbombo and Schafer engaged the Bloekombos Secondary School learners and teachers about the long-term effects of FAS. Teenage pregnancy is a reality and therefore learners need to be made aware of the harm caused to an infant should they drink alcohol while pregnant.
Minister Mbombo said that the awareness session was not in any way encouraging teenage pregnancy: “We believe young girls must complete their education. That is why the Department of Health has embarked on the Keeping Girls in School (KGiS) programme which forms part of our Young Women and Girls Project to fight teenage pregnancies and reduce HIV infections in young girls.”
The core message for teachers was that FAS has long term effects on a child’s learning ability. “We are creating awareness as a way of helping teachers identify and be more sensitive to children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome,” said Minister Mbombo
Minister Schafer said "The reality is that if a girl falls pregnant at school, it is her education that suffers. And there is a higher risk of them dropping out of school. The WCED therefore has a policy in place called 'Managing learner pregnancy' that is designed to encourage pregnant learners to remain at school and provides guidelines to all concerned to make this possible. The policy recognises that all concerned have roles and responsibilities in this situation, including the school, the parents of the unborn child, and the families concerned. In each case, the principal must discuss these responsibilities with the learner and her parents and must sign an agreement on these responsibilities".
Social workers from the Metro North Education district recently embarked on an assessment survey, to establish the views and behaviours of learners regarding teenage pregnancies.
The assessment was conducted using a sample of 1 104 learners, who were randomly selected. The learners were asked if they were sexually active. It was found that 35% of them admitted to being sexually active. An alarming 79% of those who were sexually active also indicated that they were not using contraceptives. Therefore, teenage pregnancies remain a significant societal problem even though they are slightly decreasing.
The WCED treats pregnant learners sensitively. They are regarded as special needs cases, with access to counselling by social workers and psychologists based in district offices. The Health Department works with the WCED and other Departments to provide appropriate support.
Learners in need of advice, can contact the WCED Safe Schools Centre on 0800-45-46-47.
Spokesperson to the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo
Mobile: 078 0534451
Tel: 021 483 5862
Western Cape Government: Health
Spokesperson for Minister Debbie Schafer
Ministry for Education
Western Cape Government
Tel: 021 483 6570
Cell: 076 175 0663