Designed to reduce the vulnerability of young women to poverty and sexually transmitted infections, the Ministry of Education has partnered with the Carnegie School of Home Economics to introduce a teenage mothers’ reintegration initiative.
Dubbed ‘We Care’, the programme was yesterday launched at the High Street, Georgetown School of Home Economics and is geared at providing teenage mothers with the opportunity to complete their secondary education. The initiative represents an offshoot of a policy launched by Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, earlier this year to prevent teenage pregnancy and reintegrate pregnant teens into the education system.
Providing an overview of the programme, Chief Education Officer (CEO), Marcel Huston noted that for the past five years the Ministries of Education and Public Health, have jointly conducted sessions on preventing second pregnancies and provided care hampers for teen mothers and their babies at various health centres countrywide. This intervention has seen some 332 mothers received hampers in 2017 while 800 received in 2018.
Huston commended Carnegie for opening its door to the young mothers and advised the teens to use the opportunity provided to the fullest. “Your life is not determined by its beginning. Once there is life there is hope, use the opportunity to finish your education, be disciplined and finish well,” Hutson said.
Speaking at the launch yesterday too, Minister Henry said, “There must be various pathways and options you can exercise and what you have here is one option. It is our responsibility as administrators, regulators of education and the government to ensure that we provide the support and opportunity for young people to reach their full potential irrespective of their circumstances.”
She added, “While some may be interested in culinary art, others may want to go back into the classroom or take up other trades and so those options must be and are available.”
The Minister also made reference to the crucial role of collaboration with other supporting agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations for the provision of suitable learning environments to prevent teenage pregnancy. She, moreover, committed to working towards ensuring a huge reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies. In this regard the Education Ministry will launch in 2019 a school support unit which will look at comprehensive sexuality and teenage pregnancy.
Meanwhile, outlining the Ministry of Public Health’s role in the initiative, Coordinator of the Mental Health Unit, Travis Freeman, said the ministry opened the antenatal clinic for adolescent mothers, the adolescent health and wellness clinic and established community parenting support groups.
The “We Care” initiative, Freeman said, falls under the community parenting support group and serves to link the community with teen mothers in order to assist in raising the child. He informed that while the Education Ministry started off by supporting the programme with hampers integration became the next logical move. According to Freeman from next year too, the programme will be expanded to include teenager mothers from hinterland areas.