The Full Story
The Ministry of Education and Youth has a significant partnership with the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), as it relates to the reintegration of adolescent mothers into the formal education system.
This was noted by Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Dasmine Kennedy, at the annual Pamela McNeil Lecture on adolescent pregnancy, held on November 9 at the WCJF in Kingston.
Miss Kennedy said that Jamaicans must “mash down” the lie that once a girl gets pregnant she is a woman and, therefore, has no place in the formal education system.
She noted that 92 girls were reintegrated in the education system for the September 2022 school year.
The hybrid event, organised by the Foundation, was held under the theme ‘Adolescent Pregnancy – Breaking the Cycle: Protecting our Girls’.
“So, we had 17 of them going to HEART/NSTA Trust, 41 of them doing the Grade Nine Achievement Test (GNAT) and 34 of them went to Grades 10 and 11,” Miss Kennedy noted.
GNAT is used to place All-Age and Primary and Junior High School students in Grade 10 of high and technical high schools.
Additionally, she said that for the January to September 2023 period, 77 girls were reintegrated into the education system.
The reintegration programme, an initiative of the Ministry of Education and Youth, helps school-age mothers to be reintegrated into an institution of learning after dropping out.
They are provided with the necessary support services, such as training and developmental counselling during their reintegration.
Miss Kennedy said that once a girl gets pregnant while attending school she is excluded until giving birth. Following the birth of her baby, the Ministry finds a place in the education system for the girl.
“In the Region and the Ministry, we provide for these girls what we call ‘wrap-around support’, full of love, and we help them to overcome psychosocial issues. We see to their returning into the school system,” she said.
The Assistant Chief Education Officer pointed out that every girl must be able to access quality education, so “she can help Jamaica to position itself in the global marketplace and to build the country”.
“Education plays a very pivotal role in our development, in our empowerment and in every single thing that we do in Jamaica. We have to embrace it and we have to ensure access, quality and participation,” she emphasised.
She explained that during the integration process, consideration is taken to ensure that the girls are not placed in schools that they had attended and those that are not far from their homes.
“There is continuous monitoring and there are continuous empowerment sessions… . We try to connect our girls to organisations that can help them to achieve their full potential because this is very important to their growth and their development,” Miss Kennedy said.