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Thursday, July 18, 2024

15-year-old girl who got pregnant in high school fights hard, bags bachelor, masters and PhD at South African university

A young South African woman named Babalwa Tyabashe Phume who got pregnant at the age of 15 has fought hard to be educated despite her circumstances.

Phume recently obtained her doctorate in  Psychiatry and Mental Health from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Sharing her story on Linkedin, she highlighted all oof her challenges and how she was able to persevere through them to reach the academic milestone.

She stated that she gave birth to her daughter while still in grade at the age of 16 and because of her hopeless situation, she was encouraged by friends, family, classmates, and teachers to drop out of school because they believed that as a young mother, she had no place in the educational system.

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However, she chose to ignore their advice and remain in school, determined to continue her education. Phume said she was  seen as just another statistic of teenage pregnancy and a disappointment by those around her.

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But despite these challenges, she persevered and completed grade 11 with excellent grades, enabling her to apply to various universities. Phume mentioned that her grade 12 was very difficult, as she was a mother to a sickly baby. 

She said she missed tests and classes in the first term and was urged to drop out so she could take care of her child but she persevered, passed her matric, and received a scholarship to further her studies. 

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Phume went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Johannesburg, followed by a master’s degree in Child and Family Studies from the University of Cape Town in 2019.


The year after, she enrolled for a PhD at the University of Cape Town which she described as a very long, difficult, and lonely road. Phume mentioned she faced financial challenges because she had to quit her job to study for her doctorate full-time.

”There were times where my partner and I were flat broke because I had decided to quit my job and study full-time; surviving on one income was very difficult, she said.

Phume said there were instances where she questioned her decision to go back to school or become a doctor because of the situation but she remained determined. 

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She added that she also faced a challenge on a spiritual journey in 2020 that required her to be separated from her family for months, making it difficult to focus on studies. Phume said it was the toughest period of her life, with moments of wanting to give up on both her academic and spiritual journey.

Phume said throughout all the challenges, she remained determined, holding on and pushing forward with the support of her family and friends. She credits her daughter who is now 16-year-old for being supportive.

She stated that she is dedicating the doctorate degree to her daughter for serving as a constant motivation.

Phume expressed her gratitude to her spouse, best friend, and her family for their support. She also thanked her supervisor who believed in her, held her hand, and pushed her beyond my limits.


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