Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Project: Bursaries Awarded to 14 Female Students
Media Statement by Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape
It is my pleasure this morning to be handing over bursaries to 14 selected female beneficiaries that have been identified through the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Project which is one of my priority projects as Premier.
These bursaries are drawn from a fund implemented by the Human Rights Support Directorate in the Department of the Premier. The bursaries are for deserving learners presently enrolled in an institution of higher learning as an affirmation for striving for excellence and providing role models in our society.
We believe it is important that we encourage excellence and responsible behaviour among young people in the Western Cape. Many of the social ills in our province can be traced to issues of individual responsibility and personal empowerment.
One of these social problems is teenage pregnancy. Many young women become pregnant before they are ready for the responsibility of raising a child due to engaging in risky sexual behavior.
According to the 2008 Youth Risk Survey:
- 13.2% of learners in the Western Cape reported having had sex before the age of 14 years (compared to the national total of 12.6%).
- 46.3% of learners (less than half) from Grades 8 to 11 who indicated that they have had sex, reported having used condoms as their method of contraception.
- Only 38.5% of sexually active teenagers in the province reported using a condom consistently when having sex.
It is crucial that we ensure a behavioural change in the province in this regard. Giving birth before a girl has completed her education drastically reduces her and her children's opportunities, and entrenches the cycle of poverty.
One of the ways our government hopes to achieve this is through launching a number of pilot projects based on "behavioural economics" that are line with the strategic objectives of the Western Cape Government.
These bursaries are one of these projects. Apart from being a great opportunity for these young women to advance their education it also rewards them for taking ownership of their lives and futures.
More often than not, government programmes reward those who behave irresponsibly.
However, it is also important to look at new ways to reduce the burden of disease in the province such as rewarding young people who are positive role models.
The 14 young women who have been chosen to receive these bursaries are being rewarded for their academic performance and positive behaviour.
We intend for these girls to become ambassadors who will carry this exemplary behaviour forward in our province and encourage others to follow in their steps.
The Western Cape Education Department will be involving them in events at schools in the future so that they can share their stories and positively influence other young people.
The 14 young women were selected by using two sets of criteria.
Firstly the learner:
- Must have completed Grade 12 during the 2010 academic year.
- Must have performed well academically and have qualified to be enrolled in an institution of higher learning.
- Must have a track record of positive behaviour proven, including good attendance of classes:
- Must not be in receipt of a study bursary that covers 100 % of their tuition fees.
- Must not have previously fallen pregnant.
- Must be willing to be ambassadors of personal empowerment.
- Must come from disadvantaged households that are not able to fully provide for them to study further.
Secondly, the schools from which they were chosen:
- Must be a public school.
- Must be from both urban and rural areas.
- Must be in an area in which there is a high prevalence of teenage pregnancies.
The young women who have been selected will receive R10 000 towards their tuition fees which will be transferred directly to the institution of higher learning where they currently studying.
The girls chosen come from across the province including Mitchell's Plain, Khayelitsha, Worcester, Swellendam and Beaufort West.
Most of them are studying at the University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in a range of fields including social work, law, accounting and education.
These girls represent a bright future for the Western Cape: young people who live responsibly, have pursued excellence in their education and who have avoided the social ills plaguing their communities.
They have demonstrated that no matter what your circumstances are, you can rise above them and can pursue your dreams. The Western Cape Government congratulates these young women and wishes them well for the rest of their studies and their future careers.