School dropouts biggest contributor to teenage pregnancy

Fatimah (third on top), who is Sarawak OSTPC chairperson, chairing the meeting through a video conferencing yesterday.

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, June 12: Sarawak recorded a high percentage of teenage pregnancy among school  dropouts.

Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry (KWKPK) in a statement noted that from January to April this year, there were 623 new cases of teenage pregnancy.

KWKPK observed that out of the 623 new cases, pregnancy among unmarried teenagers contributed 59.7 per cent whilst 97.6 per cent were from teenagers who dropped out of school or did not attend school.

The ministry asserted that from 2015 to 2019, there was a 14.8 per cent increase in pregnancy among teenagers who were unmarried.

It noted that in the same period, there was also a 2.2 per cent increase for teenage pregnancy among school dropouts.

Nonetheless, KWKPK revealed that there was a declining trend among teenage pregnancy in terms of quantity and percentage from 2015 to 2019.

KWKPK observed that during that period, there was a 32 per cent reduction in the number of cases reported and the percentage decreased by 2.2 per cent to 5.5 per cent in 2019.

Following the first One Stop Teenage Pregnancy Committee (OSTPC) meeting for 2020 held yesterday, KWKPK has identified several implications as a result of teenage pregnancy such as miscarriage for mothers, mental health risk and the difficulties in getting employment.

Its minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah noted that going forward, teenagers pregnancy awarenesss programme which focuses on targeted groups such as among teenagers 18 years and below will be held.

It asserted that the data will be collected from the Social Development Department and community heads in Sarawak for year 2019.

KWKPK said the priority for the invention programme will be concentrated on the ethic groups and teenagers below 18 years of old which has a high pregnancy rate.

Besides, the ministry noted that guidelines and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for under age child marriage need to be enhanced.

On another note, KWKPK is concerned about the cases of abandoned babies.

KWKPK statistics of teenage pregnancy in Sarawak for 2015 to April 2020.

According to statistics, the ministry revealed that there were 23 cases of abandoned babies from 2017 until June 10, 2020.

KWKPK said self-awareness programmes which advocates for pregnant teenage mothers will be conducted to provide support and protection to them.

For instance, the ministry said the Social Welfare Department has a centre to care for pregnant teenagers who are rejected by their families. —DayakDaily