Injustices and Abuse Suffered by Pregnant School Pupils Examined in Doctoral Research
The alarmingly high number of pregnant learners in South African schools and the discrimination they suffer motivated UKZN Law academic Dr Franaaz Khan to research the situation for her PhD.
Through her study titled: Legal and Policy Implications of Learner Pregnancies in South Africa - A Case Study in KwaZulu-Natal, Khan critically analyses the laws and policies regulating the management of learner pregnancies using the experiences of various stakeholders at selected public secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Hospital School Pretoria.
Her research work was supervised by Professor David McQuoid-Mason.
‘The study revealed that pregnant learners were being discriminated against on the basis of their pregnancy status. What was important was that I found a school for pregnant girls in Pretoria who shared their pleasant experiences, as the school provided the moral and educational support that these learners required,’ said Khan.
‘Given the current status of learner pregnancies in SA, I hope that the findings of this study will benefit pregnant pupils who have been unable to achieve their full educational potential due to their pregnancies,’ she added.
As an advocate for human rights and constitutional issues of teen pregnancy in high schools in South Africa, Khan also wrote a paper titled: The Stomach Issue: Developing a human rights education approach to the problem of learner pregnancies in South African schools: A response to Welkom High School case where she argued that the guidelines/policy in question will not on their own be sufficient to address the violations and mismanagement of the issue of learner pregnancy at basic education level.
‘Education and women are areas that I am passionate about, especially constitutionally protected legal rights that are afforded to women. I strongly believe that when you educate a female you educate the nation,’ said Khan.
For Khan, graduating with her PhD was not the only celebration as she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a week before the Graduation ceremony.
‘As a wife and a first-time mom, life is all about balancing different aspects of your life successfully. PhD is a lonely journey and it is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. I am grateful for my parents’ support as they were my pillars of strength during these difficult times and they encouraged me never to give up,’ said Khan.
Words by: Thandiwe Jumo and Sibonelo Shinga
Photograph by: Abhi Indrarajan