Teen Pregnancy Rife Among San

Nation Nashikaku the headman of the Oshivelo settlement has urged the Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi to seriously consider building a hostel in the area to accommodate San learners.

Nashikaku believes this will improve the social wellbeing of San learners, while at the same time also helping them to improve academically. Uukumwe Combined School (UCS) is the only school in Oshivelo, with close to 650 learners of whom 70 percent are San. “These people are disregarded due to the fact that they are San, which is not fair because they are Namibian citizens. Every learner has great potential unfortunately very few know the importance and value of education. Most of our learners come to school not to learn, but for the porridge given during break time,” he said. According to Nashikaku a minimum of five female learners drop out of school due to pregnancy every year and passing motorists are the ones impregnating these disaantaged San learners. The school has recorded 40 cases of teenage learners dropping out of school due to pregnancy. “One of our learners is currently breastfeeding, while a second teenager is due a few months from now. The burden of caring for these unplanned babies falls to their parents. Some parents are so desperate and poor that they encourage their children to go begging and to prostitute their bodies in order to feed the family,” he revealed. Some learners live in shacks by themselves with no adult supervision and their living quarters are surrounded by many bars and shebeens, which is not conducive for learning, according to the headman.

Learners are not only exposed to sexual predators, but they face the daunting task of trying to study with noise pollution generated by countless juke boxes, as well as the noise made by shebeen patrons. “Learners from poor families share a shack or room the barrier is often a piece of cloth and sometimes the learners see or hear their parents having sex or swearing at one another. Some guardians abuse them sexually, others are burdened with forced hard labour and these children have no alternative but to beg for food and money around the community from strangers,” Nashikaku said. “The workforce in the transit town is mostly soldiers, police, teacher and truck drivers who do not come with their spouses, these people often trade sex for beer, food and other forms of entertainment with our learners. We are struggling to keep our learners away from bars and shebeen in an effort to reduce teenage pregnancy. I have personally gone on patrol with members of the police force chasing learners from bars and shebeens during the night, but for how long can we keep doing this?” he asked. “I believe the only solution is a hostel as this will create a level of control,” he further said.

According to the headman the responsibility of educating children, especially those from previously disaantaged groups such as the San is the duty of every Namibian. “These are our own children and we have a social responsibility to help them became educated leaders,” he said.

Source : New Era