The Directorate of Education in Kavango West says sex in exchange for money and a negative attitude towards the use of condoms by young boys are some of the contributing factors to pupil pregnancy at schools in the region.
This was said by the Kavango West regional council senior public relations officer, Salomon Tenga, on Tuesday after the region recorded 554 pupils who fell pregnant from 177 schools in the region last year.
Tenga said the directorate is concerned with the high pregnancy rate among pupils, which he says is hampering performance at school as 45 pupils of the 554 who got pregnant have not returned to school.
"The rate at which pupils are falling pregnant in the region requires immediate intervention," said Tenga.
The Kavango West region is second to Omusati in terms of teen pregnancy. Last year, Omusati recorded 562 pregnancies among pupils, followed by Kavango East at 522.
According to Tenga, an analysis to determine the cause of the high rate of pregnancies among pupils revealed sex in exchange for money, negative attitude towards the use of condoms by young boys as well as high poverty rate as some of the biggest contributors.
The other reasons are cohabiting, social grants, social-economic pressure, peer pressure, religious and traditional norms as well as beliefs and practices and a lack of basic needs such as food, hygiene products and shelter.
To remedy the situation, Tenga said the directorate has called for increased psychosocial support and counselling at schools and the implementation of the Learner Pregnancy and Management Policy, which has been found to be lacking at schools.
In addition, Tenga says the directorate has recommended that individual schools draw up action plans on how to address and reduce teen pregnancies.
"There's a need for collective efforts from inspectors of education at their respective circuits with school principal and stakeholders to address the matter," said Tenga.
Tenga further stressed that the directorate will conduct training on the implementation of the Learner Pregnancy and Management Policy, starting with the most affected schools per circuit. They also plan to form a regional school health task force that will advocate against teenage pregnancy.
Claudia Mazungo, who became a mother at 17, says being a teenage mother was not easy, as she faced criticism from both her family members and her peers at school since she had great potential.
Mazungo, who is studying nursing, says she did not have a mother figure to guide and advise her through her adolescent years, since she is an orphan and lived with her uncle.