Pregnant girls and young parents in South African schools
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Since the promulgation of the South African Schools Act in 1 996, it has become illegal to exclude pregnant girls from school. Influenced by feminist research, policy has sought to assist pregnant girls and young parents to continue and complete their schooling on the understanding that having children often terminates school-going, limiting future employment and work opportunities. This focus seeks to examine how the new policy has been understood and implemented. The authors focus on the views and experiences of principals and teachers, as they are the authorities at school with the responsibility for ensuring that the policy is implemented. The paper draws on qualitative data collected by a larger study on being and becoming a parent at a diverse group of schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape Province. The authors investigate the extent to which schools' responses to pregnancy and parenting reflect and/or reproduce normative gender roles and practices with respect to schooling and parenting in contemporary South Africa. The paper also shows that despite familiar stereotypes about young parents and pregnancy both teachers and principals take their educational responsibilities seriously. They do care and do try to help. But many teachers are judgmental and moralistic, particularly in response to young girls.