CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT Adolescent pregnancy has long been a worldwide social and educational concern for the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. Many countries continue to experience high incidence of teenage pregnancy despite the intervention strategies that have been put in place. In 1990 approximately 530,000 teenagers in the United States became pregnant, 51% of whom gave birth (Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 1998).
Available literature suggests that fertility rates in developing countries have declined in the past two decades (Dickson, 2002; Caldwell & Caldwell, 2002). It is argued that due to changing socio-political circumstances, women have reassessed the timing of childbirth and the role of
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Research on adolescent reproductive health and programmes are fairly new in subSaharan Africa and a majority of them are less than twenty years old (Programme Briefs, 2000). A South African twenty-year longitudinal study on child and adolescent psychosocial development is currently under way. This study is conducted by Birth to Twenty, a non-government research organisation. One area of focus of this study is the emergence of sexual and lifestyle risk factors during adolescence, particularly risk behaviour, unwanted pregnancy, exposure to sexually transmitted infection etc (Birth to Twenty, 2005). The Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU) is another organisation that plays a leading role in adolescent reproductive health studies and development of intervention programmes (Erulkar, Beksinska & Cebekhulu, 2001).
Individual factors often associated with teenage pregnancy include low academic achievement and poor future prospects. It is argued that teenage learners who are poor academic achievers often lack interest in schooling, and have poor future prospects. They are also more likely to fall pregnant and consequently drop out of school than their peers who perform well (Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 1998). This line of argument suggests a causal relationship between poor academic performance and adolescent pregnancy. Thus longitudinal studies need to