Journal Article

Pregnancy-related school dropout and prior school performance in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

This study uses data from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to examine the factors associated with schoolgirl pregnancy and subsequent educational pathways. We find that prior schooling discontinuities—defined as instances of non-pregnancy-related grade repetition or temporary withdrawals from school—are strongly associated with a young woman’s likelihood of later becoming pregnant while enrolled in school, dropping out of school if she becomes pregnant, and not returning to school following a pregnancy-related dropout. Young women who are the primary caregivers to their children are also significantly more likely to leave school than are those who have help with their childcare responsibilities. Given the increasing importance of female school participation in sub-Saharan Africa, programs must be designed to reach girls and their families early to increase incentives for ensuring their timely progression through school and to increase their access to reproductive health information and services.