An ethnographic study of teenage pregnancy : femininities and motherhood among pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers at school in Inanda.
This study has focused on pregnancy and parenting of 10 African young women between the ages of 16 and 19, from one of Inanda schools. Drawing from ethnography, the study explores these young women's choices of boyfriends, the circumstances that led to their pregnancy, the socio-cultural influence during pregnancy and at childbirth, kind of support they receive at home, school and boyfriends and experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. An examination of how they balance their varied roles as mothers and learners as well as the effects of pregnancy and parenting to their schooling. Although the South African Schools Act (Department of Education 1996) regulates the support of pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers in schools, the data reveal that pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers still experience challenges in schools. These challenges range from being stigmatised, discriminated and humiliated by teachers and peers, lack of support from teachers, decline in academic performance as well as the inability to participate in school's extra-mural activities. However the study reveals that there is some degree of institutional support which accounted for the teenage mothers' overall performance and achievement; there are some teachers and learners who provide some kind of support to the pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers. The thesis further argues that motherhood is very demanding, challenging and very disruptive of the young mothers' schoolwork; but the young mothers indicate self-determination and resilience to find ways of successfully juggling motherhood and schooling. On the other hand, the young fathers understand their social role as that of being a provider for the child and the care giving is only for womenfolk. Some of the young men acknowledged the importance of the young mothers' completing their schooling and realized that they needed support other than financial provision. The young men, however, do not provide the childcare themselves; they shift the caring responsibility to their own mothers. The focus on the pregnant and teenage mothers draws attention to possible ways of providing more support in order they fare better in their education for better chances of employment and gender equity.
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