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.