The public and learners from this Eastern Cape school have been surprised to hear a call to bring pregnancy and drug test results when the new calendar begins this month.
EASTERN CAPE SCHOOLS ASKS FOR PREGNANCY AND DRUG TESTS
So how was this rather controversial message delivered? Well, the school has an active Facebook page and it was simply posted out there – and it was sure to catch the public’s full attention.
The school said it expected the pupils to deliver on the expectation when the new term begins on Wednesday 19 January.
The post said: “If you are a student at Xolilizwe, we expect you to show us your drug and pregnancy test results when schools open.”
If the above was shocking enough, the follow-up message from the Eastern Cape school took things up a notch…
“Marpe clinic offers: drug test R200; pregnancy test R50. For more info please contact the number [on the] poster,” the school said.
EASTERN CAPE SCHOOL’S PRINCIPAL SPEAKS OUT
The obvious questions of concern are whether the Eastern Cape school will reject pregnant or drug-using pupils are or not?
The school’s headmaster Sizo Butshingi said pregnant or drug-using learners will not actually face unfair treatment. They will be supported.
“It is important that we know the status of the individuals so we can provide the care they need. Those who test positive will be treated with dignity,” Butshingi said as quoted by TimesLIVE.
“Last year we had three incidences of pregnancy. The girls were in matric. Two of them passed with flying colours after taking a month of maternity leave.
“When girls hide their pregnancies it can contribute poorly to [their] development. Some girls who hide their pregnancies could resort to dumping the foetuses or harming the child [in an attempt to cover up the pregnancy].
“The girls could go into labour during exams. It is an attempt by us to save the [unborn child].
“We cannot send pregnant learners packing but it must be brought to the parents’ attention. If she is willing to disclose the name of the father — and if they are in the school — then we will also counsel the father.”
SUPPORT FOR DRUG-USING PUPILS
Butshingi said drug abuse is a stark reality in society and Eastern Cape schools, but this does not mean the school should be readily available to embrace addicted youngsters.
“It is an open secret we’re living in a society riddled with drugs. Our school is growing popular. Last year we had a top-performing learner [Simamkele Bongo was the top student in the quintile 2 category] and produced 107 distinctions.
“This has attracted parents to our institution but we could tell that many were using the school as a rehab centre. [This is not a] dustbin where parents can dump children.
“The confidence in our leadership has grown. In 2019 [the year Butshingi became principal of Xolilizwe] a parent brought in a learner who was heavily on drugs. He was from a school in KwaZulu-Natal but on the verge of dropping out. In 2020 he received three distinctions.
“We have committees in the school which work 24 hours [a day] to deal with such learners.”
DEPARTMENT REJECTS SCHOOL’S DECISION
The national basic education department spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said that the school’s policy, if that is what it is, does not align with pupils’ rights.
“No, it can’t be. There must first be a suspicion to test … And I’m not even talking about pregnancy — that will show later on. With a drug test, it depends on the policy of the school but there must first be a suspicion before the test. But testing for pregnancy or drugs is not an admissions policy,” said Mokgatlhe.
Meanwhile, the department’s policy says that pregnant pupils should not be removed from schools and should promptly be back in class after giving birth