Forty adolescent mothers in the Central and Upper Corentyne district have registered to participate in the Re-integration of Adolescent Mothers programme through the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme of the Ministry of Education.
This is the third re-integration programme being launched by the Ministry of Education but the first for Region Six, East Berbice-Corentyne.
The orientation session for the young mothers was held on Friday, September 20, 2019, at the Skeldon Heritage Resort, Corentyne. According to the Coordinator of the Ministry’s HFLE Programme, Ms. Colleen King-Cameron, the loss of educational and economic opportunities, joblessness and disabilities that adolescent mothers and fathers face are fundamental threats to their long-term stability.
She said that the Ministry of Education is cognizant of the needs of adolescents and have provided several opportunities that are designed to retain adolescent mothers and fathers by making training available to equip them with the requisite knowledge and skills to catch up with their peers.
The HFLE Coordinator explained that these programmes support the regular school curriculum to move children quickly through missed work, so that they can re-join their peers within the formal schooling system and in other informal systems.
“There are several short-term education and training programs funded by the Ministry of Education. These programs are offered to both adolescent mothers and fathers with the aim of re-integrating every one of you into the formal school education system. You will be provided with the basic literacy skills, life skills and vocational training that are appropriate for adolescents to navigate through the journey of life,” Ms. King-Cameron remarked.
She said that during this programme, the participants will benefit from free transportation, daycare services and a start-up kit funded by the Ministry. She told the young women, “Our intention is to successfully re-integrate you back into the system.”
The re-integration programme that will be implemented in the region is being done in collaboration with the Family Awareness Consciousness Togetherness (FACT) organisation.
Executive Director of FACT, Ms. Annette Jaundoo implored on the young ladies that they should make the best of the free opportunity they are being given to develop themselves.
Ms. Jaundoo noted that the practical courses being offered in the 15-week programme are henna designs, nail art, make-up, braiding and pedicure. However, she added that the participants will also be exposed to courses that deal with soft skills, domestic violence, stigma and discrimination, decision making, sexual reproductive health and time management.
She said, “This is the first in East Berbice and we should count ourselves fortunate and blessed to have this programme first here. We should give a round of applause to the Ministry and a round of applause to our government that wants you as an individual to empower yourself.”
Regional Education Officer, Ms. Bhagmatie LaCruz said that the reintegration programme is a significant step towards the reduction of gender and economic inequality. She said that it is an opportunity for young mothers to regroup and strive to create an economically viable and independent life.
Meanwhile, Regional Executive Officer of Region Six, Ms. Kim Williams-Stephen encouraged the young women to rise above any negative comments or remarks that might have been made towards them.
“You have taken that bold and first step that can lead you to a successful life. Skills training is designed to equip you with the requisite knowledge and ability for employment,” Ms. Williams-Stephen remarked.
She expressed her happiness on behalf of the Region to be involved in the process as a stakeholder and further encouraged the young women to never settle for less.