Eighty adolescent mothers will begin their stint in the Ministry of Education’s re-integration programme which gives adolescent mothers an opportunity to re-enter the formal school system or to acquire alternative education.
The eighty mothers were present at a launching ceremony held today at the Carnegie School of Home Economics (CSHE) which was attended by Minister of Education, Dr. the Hon. Nicolette Henry, UNICEF Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Ms. Sylvie Fouet, Liaison Officer of the United Nations Population Fund, Mr. Adler Bynoe, Adolescent Health Services Officer, Dr. Travis Freeman as well as staff and students of the CSHE.
Delivering the feature address, Minister Henry commended the mothers for taking the bold step to get back into education. She said that it is hoped that with the decision of the mothers to be a part of the programme will result in them becoming productive citizens, particularly since many of them are already on that journey.
Minister Henry noted that since the development of the National Policy for the Reintegration of Adolescent Mothers into the Formal School System was launched in June 2018, 45 adolescent mothers were re-integrated into the system.
“According to the Schools Welfare Department data, 15 mothers were re-integrated into the formal school system; so they are back at secondary schools and 30 mothers would have chosen alternative education”, the Education Minister explained.
She said that the eighty mothers that will be a part of the re-integration programme over the next 10 weeks will be given an opportunity to develop a skill for livelihood and also a life skills education.
Further, Minister Henry noted that the participation of the mothers in the programme is a demonstration of the commitment to education and development of the people of Guyana by the government.
Minister Henry implored the young ladies to remain focused and engaged in what is necessary for them to successfully complete their respective programmes.
The programmes which the adolescent mothers have enrolled in are General Cosmetology and Elementary Cakes and Pastries.
The principal of the CSHE, Mrs. Myrna Lee said that the CSHE has embraced the re-integration policy because it is cognizant and current to the school’s vision, mission and guiding principles.
She said that during the 86 years of the school’s existence it has upheld its social responsibility by educating women from various communities. She said that the school welcomes with open arms the batch of 80 students. The Principal promised that the education the adolescent mothers will receive will be in accordance with the school’s golden standard.
According to Mr. Bynoe, the UNFPA has been proud to support the development of the re-integration policy and remains proud to be among those agencies to provide support and solutions to adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights challenges.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative, Mrs. Sylvie Fouet said that considering the Sustainable Development Goal Five, pregnancy is recognised as a target for gender equality and woman empowerment.
She said that the Re-integration policy gives adolescent mothers three options; whether they wish to complete education in their existing school, or opt for another school and the third option, where they can choose to learn technical and vocational skills.
Dr. Freeman said that the Ministry of Public Health’s Adolescent Health Unit launched three initiatives including the community parenting and support group. He said that a part of the parenting and support group there was always a request by teenage mothers to complete school or learn a skill.
He said that since that day, his Ministry has been working with the Ministry of Education and UN partners. Dr. Freeman noted that it was a proud moment for his Ministry and team to be a part of the consultation process for the development of the re-integration policy which fortified efforts to get teenage mothers to complete schooling or to learn a skill.
During the 10 week programme, the adolescent mothers will benefit from full transportation, day care services for their children and will also receive start-up kits after completion of the courses.