What It Takes for Teen Mums in South Africa to Go Back to School

Adolescent pregnancy is a major problem in Africa, with many adolescent mothers facing challenges such as poverty, lack of education, and social stigma, write Kathryn Steventon Roberts and Janina Jochim for The Conversation Africa.

The HEY BABY (Helping Empower Youth Brought up in Adversity with their Babies and Young children) research study has shed light on some of the challenges faced by adolescent mothers, as well as potential entry points for interventions and programmes. Between 2017 and 2019, HEY BABY collected data from over 1,000 adolescent mothers and their children living in rural and urban areas of South Africa's Eastern Cape.

The study found that almost 70% of young mothers returned to school after birth, but that the large proportion of mothers who do not return to school, may require substantial targeted support to re-engage with education. Those who did return showed fewer indicators of poverty, better schooling history, continued education during pregnancy, more family support, and greater utilisation of daycare services.

The findings highlight the need for progressive laws and school policies, as well as their effective implementation, to increase school access for pregnant girls and adolescent mothers.


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