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  • Wife of the President of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, has lauded the work of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) in helping adolescent mothers to stay in school.
  • “This innovative initiative is a sanctuary that has given teenage girls, who would have otherwise dropped out of school, due to early pregnancy, a place to continue their studies, nurture their babies and transform their lives,” she said, during a tour of the centre’s Trafalgar Road location in St. Andrew on Monday (August 5).
  • Mrs. Kenyatta noted that the facility, which started 40 years ago as a response to the high level of teenage pregnancies in Jamaica, has become a national programme, offering quality education, peer to peer learning, reintegration into formal schools, mentoring and uninterrupted learning.

Wife of the President of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, has lauded the work of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) in helping adolescent mothers to stay in school.

“This innovative initiative is a sanctuary that has given teenage girls, who would have otherwise dropped out of school, due to early pregnancy, a place to continue their studies, nurture their babies and transform their lives,” she said, during a tour of the centre’s Trafalgar Road location in St. Andrew on Monday (August 5).

Mrs. Kenyatta noted that the facility, which started 40 years ago as a response to the high level of teenage pregnancies in Jamaica, has become a national programme, offering quality education, peer to peer learning, reintegration into formal schools, mentoring and uninterrupted learning.

“Your investment has changed so many lives,” she said, noting that the institution is a “true model for learning and replication.”

Mrs. Kenyatta said she supports initiatives such as the WCJF, which encourages girls to stay in school in order to benefit from uninterrupted education, despite their circumstances.

She noted that keeping girls in school directly lowers the rate of maternal mortality and protects them from the new, emerging issues of adolescent HIV infections.

She pointed out that in Kenya there are experiences where girls are not given equal chances for education, due to a number of issues such as lack of access (living far from a school); financial limitations of families; and harmful cultural practices such as early marriages and female genital mutilation.

“Early pregnancy also poses great challenges to many young girls and we work hard to find practical solutions similar to this programme to ensure that the young teenagers do not drop out of school,” Mrs. Kenyatta said.

She noted that communities are encouraged to reintegrate young mothers and send them back to school.

Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency, the Most Hon. Lady Allen (right), and Wife of the President of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta (left), look at babies in the nursery at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), during a tour of the facility in St. Andrew on August 5. They are joined by Chairman of the WCJF, Debby Ann Salmon.

 

For her part, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that the WCJF has played a key role in removing the major obstacles that would prevent adolescent mothers from leading successful lives.

“It does this by helping them to continue their education, thereby increasing their job prospects and equipping them with the tools to look after their children and to become good parents,” she pointed out.

She noted that the facility has, to date, served approximately 46,000 teen mothers, many of whom have successfully completed their secondary education.

Meanwhile, Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Allen, who was also on the tour, encouraged the girls to “put in more work after you leave this facility.”

“It is the only way you can (achieve) the greatness that is embedded in you,” she said.

The tour formed part of the itinerary of Mrs. Kenyatta and her husband, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, who arrived in the island earlier in the day for a three-day State Visit.

They are expected to depart the island on Wednesday, August 7.

The objective of the WCJF is to motivate young mothers to choose education instead of continuous motherhood.