Send teen mothers back to school, urges First Lady
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta wants teenage mothers reintegrated into schools to give them a chance to complete their education.
She said early pregnancies should not mean an end to the education of girls or condemn the young mothers to misery and poverty associated with illiteracy.
The First Lady spoke at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) in Kingston on Monday, where she was the guest of honour.
She addressed teenage mothers, who have successfully been reintegrated into schools through a special programme for adolescent mothers.
She is accompanying President Uhuru Kenyatta who is on a three-day State visit to the Caribbean nation.
“I have fervently supported projects, such as this one, that encourage girls to stay in school to benefit from uninterrupted education despite their circumstances. I truly believe in the promise of hope that education gives to our girls,” the First Lady said.
She said keeping girls in school directly lowers the rates of maternal mortality and protects young women from challenges such as HIV infections.
Using the case of Kenya, the First Lady said girls are hindered in their pursuit of education by very many barriers, among them the distance between their homes and learning institutions and financial limitations that constrain many families, causing young girls to stay at home to cater for their siblings.
Harmful practices such as early marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) are the other impediments to girl-child education cited by the First Lady.
“We work hard to find practical solutions similar to this programme to ensure the teenagers do not drop out of school. We encourage communities to reintegrate young mothers and send them back to school,” Margaret said, adding that Kenya needs to take lessons from the Jamaican learning model for adolescent mothers.
The First Lady, who was hosted at the centre by Lady Allen Patrick— the spouse of the Governor General of Jamaica— and accompanied by Sports Minister Olivia Grange, said there are millions of vulnerable girls across the world who need help towards achieving their dreams in education but hardly get the opportunity and support they deserve to make them achieve their dreams.
She applauded her hosts for the innovative programme and congratulated current students for their unyielding resilience and for recognising the importance of education in unlocking their future.