A teen pregnancy project at Burgundy Estate’s Riverside College has made use of text messaging to remind learners from Grade 8 to 12 about the responsibility that comes with parenthood. Over and above caring for their newborn baby, a freshly-talcumed 2,5kg bag of flour, the text messages are sent throughout the day and night to simulate the real-life and unpredictable experience of parenting.

“Babies don’t cry or get sick according to a schedule. By using text messages that are sent at random times, we could replicate a real life scenario – the novelty of having a newborn baby quickly wears off when it wakes you up for a feed at 3am and then again at 4.30am because it has colic,” Dave Swart, High School Principal and school counselor at Riverside College said.

Both male and female learners at the school will take part in the project: “We want our boy and girl learners to be able to make informed decisions; parenthood is a dual responsibility that comes with a lifelong commitment. Projects such as our teen pregnancy project, create an environment where our learners can have first-hand experience and hopefully make informed decisions as a result,” Swart said.

Text message examples

  • Sent at 11pm: Your baby needs a nappy change (reply to confirm action)
  • Sent at 1.30am: It’s feed and burp time (reply to confirm action)
  • Sent at 2.45am: Your baby is crying non-stop (reply to confirm action)
  • Sent at 5am: It’s feed time and burp time (reply to confirm action)

National report – the numbers

Around 21 000 schoolgirls, including 717 still in primary school, became pregnant in the 2013/14 financial year; this is according to the Basic Education Ministry.

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The most pregnancies were in Gauteng (5 273) and the Eastern Cape (4 130), the North West province had the fewest (292), the Western Cape reported 83 primary school and 2 433 senior school. The number of pupils who returned to school was not available.