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A South African School Educates Teenage Mothers



For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

In some ways, the high school girls at the Pretoria Hospital School seem like many other girls their age. But there is a major difference. Most of them will become mothers by the end of this year. South African researchers say about 30 percent of girls in the country become pregnant by the time they are 19 years old. Only one-third of these girls stay in school while they are pregnant or after their babies are born.

The Pretoria Hospital School is the only school in South Africa with a special separate program for pregnant girls. One hundred pregnant girls are currently taking classes there. Most were forced to leave traditional schools. Sometimes South African schools expel pregnant girls although the action violates the law. Many pregnant teenagers never finish their secondary education. More than 30 percent of high school students never graduate because of pregnancy.

Dorothy was one student who came close to being in that group. She was expelled from school when she got pregnant. She spent months at home searching for another that would accept her. She arrived at Pretoria Hospital School earlier this year. She says she feels welcome and supported. Rina Van Niekerk is the leader of the school. She says the most important goal is to bring the students up to the right educational level and keep them on that path. She also says there are some attendance problems because of pregnancy-related sicknesses. Pretoria Hospital School opened the program for pregnant teenagers in the middle 1980s.

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