JIS News

More than 60 adolescent parents will receive bursaries and scholarships valued at some $3.9 million from the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), to help with their educational expenses.

The presentations will be made at the third staging of the Advancing SecondaryTertiary, Remedial Education for Adolescent Mothers (A-STREAM) awards ceremony on Thursday (July 29), at the WCJF’s headquarters in Kingston.

The function will be held virtually via the Zoom platform beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, will address the function and will name at least four of the scholarships in honour of the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the WCJF, Princess Lawes; the entity’s first national Director, the late Pamela McNeil; former Executive Director of the WCJF, Beryl Weir; and the AIDS Health Care Foundation, which is the primary donor and partner of the Foundation.

An overview of the A-STREAM Programme will be delivered by Executive Director, WCJF, Dr. Zoe Simpson, and the function will also include testimonials from beneficiaries.

Dr. Simpson told JIS News that the A-STREAM Programme was instituted in 2018 as a WCJF 40th anniversary activity.

“We recognised that the girls who were reintegrated in the formal school system, if they were to complete their secondary education, they would need to be provided with financial and psychosocial support,” she said.

She said that the programme provides mentors for the adolescent girls and sponsorships to ensure that they, along with the fathers, can advance their secondary and tertiary-level education.

The Executive Director said that the WCJF is seeking to increase the number of beneficiaries by a percentage each year and “to provide every adolescent mother with the mentorship and sponsorship so that she will not drop out of secondary school a second time”.

“That’s the aim of the A-STREAM Programme – to increase the number of girls who complete their secondary education,” she pointed out.

The WCJF, which is an entity of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, is mandated to provide continuing education and support for teen mothers.

More than 50,000 adolescents have been assisted, to date.

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