Cultural Ramifications on the Educability of Pregnant and Parenting Learners at Four South African High Schools


  • Tawanda Runhare
  • Rifumuni Nancy Mathebula


pregnant learners; parenting learners; cultural practices; policy duty bearers; teen motherhood


The study investigated how the socio-cultural and traditional practices of school-based education duty-bearers influenced the educational access and participation of pregnant and parenting learners (PPLs) who chose to continue with schooling after falling pregnant. Using a qualitative case study research design, four high schools with high rates of girl pregnancy from one South African education district were purposively selected. The participants included 8 school governing body (SGB), 8 school management team (SMT), 8 pregnant-monitoring teachers (PMT), 8 class teachers, 8 PPLs and 8 mainstream learners who schooled with PPLs. Data were collected through individual interviews for PPLs for their confidentiality, and focus group interviews for all the other participants. Study results indicated that due to cultural, traditional perceptions and practices, the South African national education policy measures on the prevention and management of learner pregnancy which allows schoolgirls to return to school after giving birth was loosely observed and implemented at the schools. The reasons for these are; a) Negative attitudes of teachers and mainstream to PPLs; b) Domestication of motherhood and childrearing by community; c) Mythological discernment of PPLs by mainstream learners; d) Character contamination; and e) Femininity as a negative label on PPLs in a formal school setting. Thus, from the findings, it is recommended that school-based duty bearers be trained on democratic education policy frameworks and their implementation strategies, to benefit the vulnerable children such as PPLs, among others.


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