Speaking to to the media on Sunday, 29 August 2021, Basic Education Minister has labelled acts of gender-based violence perpetrated against women and children as ‘very disturbing and marrow-chilling’.
“The department is concerned about teenage pregnancy as it impacts negatively on the work done by the sector as well as the lives of young women regarding their future,” addressed the minister.
Motshekga said she learnt of the devastating murder and mutilation of a fourth-year law student at the University of Fort Hare – Nosicelo Mtebeni, the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl in Majeje, Limpopo; the Grade 1 learner allegedly raped at a Soshanguve school in Gauteng, by a general assistant working at the school.
She condemned these acts as heinous crime and barbaric committed by humans on other humans, especially during Women’s Month.
“Let us all speak against gender-based violence everywhere it shows its ugly head; let us act against it, using all legal platforms available to us.
As we come to the end of August, we must continue to advocate for harmony, understanding, and cooperation as a society – men and women of our democratic country,” stressed the minister.
On the issue of teenage pregnancy, the minister said she find it disturbing that young school pupils are still falling pregnant at a tender age.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is one matter that we cannot ignore as a Department because it impacts negatively on the work we do in the sector.
“We are concerned about the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in the country.
“Let us be clear that it is not just a problem of Gauteng, it is a national crisis. Most of these teenagers are of school-going age.
It is a serious indictment on all of us as a society and we really need to reflect deeply on this crisis and take urgent action to arrest the moral decay,” minister Motshekga said.
The minister was also giving the country an update on the return of primary school learners to attendance on a full capacity amid the impact of COVID-19.
“South Africans will recall that schools resumed for the Third Term on 26 July 2021.
On 02 August 2021, we also saw the return of the majority of primary school learners to full attendance; while those schools that have space limitations, including the non-availability of appropriate spaces to mount mobile classrooms, were allowed to stagger learner attendance.
In all of these arrangements, the health and safety of learners and teachers was paramount.
We must also indicate that social distancing requirements remain a challenge in some schools, but we continue to work with the Department of Health and our stakeholders to explore solutions in this regard.
No one can deny the resurgence of COVID cases in isolated parts of the country, which affect our schools.
For instance, the Phoenix area in the Umlazi District in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Motheo District in the Free State, are cause for concern,” she said.
The department’s initial proposal to do away with the holidays scheduled from October 4 to 8 was slammed by teacher unions, governing body associations and a principals’ association.