Lesotho: Teenage pregnancy growing concern

Lesotho: Teenage pregnancy growing concern

Date: January 15, 2020
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By Gerard Molupe

Ts’anatalana, 2 December: There is a challenge  of teenage pregnancy in Lesotho where some girl children are forced to drop out of school to raise their children.

Lesotho Demographic Health Survey (LDHS) 2014 shows that teenage pregnancy in Lesotho is at 19 %.

And the most affected places are those in the highlands of the country where health services are a distant cousin.

Adolescent Health Programmes Manager at the Ministry of Health (MoH) ‘Mathato Nkuatsana says her ministry has established some programmes to the teenage pregnancy in the country.

Such programmes include Comprehensive Sexual Education in and out of school and Anti Child Marriage Campaign Outreach Programme to scale up family planning services for adolescents and young people.

Nkuatsana says her ministry also advocates for social behavioural change messages and condom distribution by civil society organisations.

She says there are also adolescent health corners established in all hospitals in the country except for Quthing district.

Chief Ntsane Makopela of Ha Makopela in Ts’anatalana Community Council says they are really beleaguered by the teenage pregnancy in the area.

He says this affects mostly girls aged between 13- 14 years old after they have just written Standard 7.

Because of advanced and sophisticated life of today, young girls run after married men who have money to buy them data so that they are able to communicate on the social media.

Unfortunately, the chief says this makes these young girls to exchange money for data with sexual intercourse.

“And they end up being impregnated by the married men,” Chief Makopela says.

He says poverty has contributed significantly to the teenage pregnancy rate in the council where girls dropout of school because they cannot afford to have uniform and opt not going to school.

“You will find a school age- going girl roaming the street here claiming she does not have shoes or uniform,” Chief Makopela says, adding that they have written letters soliciting resources to help take those girls back to school.

The chief says they advise such girls to go back to school once they have secured resources to help them further their studies.

Once these girls are out of school, they get bored and at the end of the day indulge in unsafe sex and unfortunately get contracted with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDs.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that in 2018, 340 000 people were living with HIV and the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDs amongst adults (15- 49 years) was 23.6%.

The statistics further shows that 13 000 people were newly infected with HIV while 6100 died from an AIDS-related illness.

Chief Makopela says there are incidents where the girls who leave their children with their grandparents and go to South Africa to hunt jobs as domestic workers.

He says they usually hold pitsos to sensitise parents about teenage pregnancy.

The chief says once these girls get impregnated, their education journey usually comes to a screeching halt.

He says girls have to travel long distances on foot to get to their schools and this unfortunately frustrates their desire to study further.

Chairman of Ts’anatalana Community Council Emile Tekane says they are aware of the teenage pregnancy plaguing his council.

He says they formed support group committees in different villages under his council where they sensitise the young girls about the effects of teenage pregnancy.

He says they go out there to the villages with pictures depicting how girls who become pregnant at an early stage suffer.

Tekane says they also hold pitsos where they talk with children together with their parents urging them to avoid teenage pregnancy as it will definitely hinder their progress in academic journey.

“We work closely with the MoH so that we can pass the message to youngsters,” he says.

Tekane says school- going children stay in rented homes so that they are closer to their schools where they control themselves.

Unfortunately, Tekane says these children cohabit and end up falling pregnant.

He says teachers are also gravely concerned by this behaviour.

“Teachers have asked us to visit the children in their rented homes unannounced so that we could see what we can find,” he says.

He says the girl children are not afraid to accost men asking them for money to buy some goodies but particularly food items.

Tekane says some men take advantage of these girls and abuse them sexually.

“I do not know if this is driven by poverty or what?” he quips.

*Lerato Molise from Ha Ramokoatsi in the Ts’anatalana Community Council says she fell pregnant when she was just 17 years old.

At that time she was about to write her Junior Certificate (JC) final exams.

Further narrating her ordeal, Molise says she became heart- broken beyond words because she knew for sure that she would not be able to further her studies.

She says she used to walk together with her ex- boyfriend to and from school during winter vacations when other children were staying at home.

Molise says she found herself impregnated by her ex-boyfriend who afterwards turned his back against her.

“I have never been so humiliated like that in my life. I rued the day l was born,” she says.

She says her mother was eking out a living in South Africa to try to put her through education when the ‘misfortune’ befell her.

Apparently, she says it was obvious that it was end of her education journey because she had to raise her child.

Raising the child, Molise says, it was one of the toughest experiences because it needs clothing and food which could hardly be afforded if one does not work.

“At some point, l had to take the child to the doctor. It was a tough experience because I was afraid to ask anything from my mother,” Molise recalls with a sore heart.

With hard- earned money, her mother decided to take her to a catering school so that she could be able to generate some income for her child.

Today, she runs her own small catering company in the capital Maseru but wounds of teenage pregnancy are still livid in her heartMajara Molupe, journalist in Maseru Lesotho



2 thoughts on “Lesotho: Teenage pregnancy growing concern”


MoET included Sexuality Education in the schools curriculum to discourag teenage pregnancies, early unintended marriages and end HIV New infections. It is so unfortunate to find girl’s at the age of high school fall pregnant and drop out of school. One would think the Government should look seriously into the intensive training of teachers who deliver Lifeskills Based Sexuality Education throughout the country because I think that is the starting point. Teachers don’t have enough tactics to influence and convince teenagers for the positive Behaviour change which is the soul target of every adult every where.

Rethabile Makhetha says:

One of the causes of teenage pregnancy is child marriage! 24% of girls in Lesotho are married off before the age of 18, serious legal measures should be taken against child marriage perpetrators! The government must pass Child protection and welfare act of 2011 already. I believe it’s delay is causing child marriage perpetrators to be so free and not shameful for such a punishable by death act, however human rights are human right, no one should be killed but atleast they must be severely punished and put away for a long time

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