Six Regional Consultations were then held where representatives of schools and community groups participated. Participants included children, as well as past and present students of the wcjf. The institutional and social context was explored and the issue of reintegration discussed from different perspectives. A final consultation was held with the expert group to provide feedback on the integration of stakeholder comments and recommendations in the policy and its implementation framework. In total, over 200 men, women and children were consulted on the scope and content of the policy. They included representatives from the education, health, gender and women s rights, children s rights, child protection, security and social work sectors, as well as persons from community-based, charitable and religious organisations.
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Cooperation from schools to reintegrate these girls has been dependent on the personal preferences of school teen administrators. Discrimination against school-age mothers can be either covert or blatantly acknowledged. It is reflected in attempts to exclude these girls from schools for fear of corrupting the school s morality or marring the school s image. These fears are expressed in some cases by the school administration, but in other cases by parents, teachers or fellow students. Such discrimination has been identified by past and present students of the wcjf as one of the main inhibitors to the completion of their education. The Education Regulations (1980) provides the basis for Ministerial discretion to facilitate the re-entry of such girls to educational institutions, but no policy framework previously existed for the exercise of this discretion. This policy purports to address this gap, and to set a framework for inter-agency collaboration to address the wider issues that limit the reintegration of school-age mothers into the formal runes school system. The right to education, for school-age mothers, is also threatened by the absence of a 1 For example, through gsat, gnat or other examina ons 10 age mothers and the issues that would make reintegration difficult. They then made recommendations as to the levels of support they would need to complete their education. An Expert Group Consultation was then held, where representatives from key state and non-state entities were in attendance. This facilitated discussions on the wider policy and governance implications of mandatory reintegration.
The state machinery for providing transitional education for girls who leave school during pregnancy currently entry resides in the women s Centre of Jamaica foundation (wcjf a government-owned entity reporting to the Office of the Prime minister. The programme currently serves approximately one-third of all teenaged mothers, and is globally recognised for its successes in reducing the recidivism rate among its students. The services offered by the organisation will be expanded and more fully aligned with the ministry of Education s curriculum, as well as its guidance and counselling services. The key elements of this policy are: Automatic referral of all pregnant girls to the women s Centre of Jamaica foundation. Reintegrating all school-age mothers into the formal school system, either in their original school or in another school, at the same level. Monitoring of adolescent mothers to ensure they complete their education. Increasing prevention messages to seek to reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy.0 introduction girls who leave school during pregnancy are often assumed to have permanently forfeited their place in the formal school system. Thus, although many of these girls originally had earned a place in school 1, the common cry of no space available has been used by some schools to exclude them from post-pregnancy reintegration.
Low self-esteem, poor coping skills, behavioural issues or the effects of victimisation may all have preceded or resulted from the circumstances leading to teen pregnancy. Recommendations any risk factors that precipitated early pregnancy should be identified and addressed during the transitional programme. These include any abusive or exploitative experiences, as well as self-esteem and other psycho -social issues. A revised and expanded curriculum should be developed for the wcjf, to ensure online that school-age mothers do not veer from mainstream schools, and that remedial needs are addressed. Personal and family life development interventions available through the wcjf should be reviewed to ensure that students are fully prepared for seamless reintegration. These include counselling, family planning, parenting training and stress management modules. Linkages with social safety net, community or school-based support services should be forged prior to reintegration. 8 65 9 cluded in the chart below.
In the absence of clear policy guidelines, student mothers face cultural and institutional resistance to their right to an education. Pregnancy remains the highest risk factor for female dropout rates, both before and after reintegration. This does not align with national policy goals outlined in the vision 2030 document, and retards Jamaica s fulfilment of international treaties, commitments and policy guidelines. This policy purports to address this deficit, and establishes a framework for inter-agency collaboration to address the wider issues that limit the reintegration of school-age mothers into the formal school system. Key concerns financial constraints are a main hindrance to school attendance for school-age mothers. Summary of stakeholderiorities day care services are often unaffordable, leaving schoolage mothers with no alternative but to remain at home. Health needs for both the new mother and child places added responsibilities on school-age mothers. Schools, families and school-age mothers should be prepared for special health issues, such as post-partum depression or stress or any developmental issues faced by the newborn. Psycho-social wellness of school-age mothers is often as critical as physical health.
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In remote locations, access to wcjf centres may be impractical. Prevention strategies should be fully integrated into school-based srh programmes, to reduce rates of teen pregnancy. An integrated monitoring and evaluation system should be implemented to ensure that interventions are working and girls do not drop-out post-reintegration. Honourable reverend Ronald Thwaites, mp, jp essay minister of Education The legislative framework for adolescent srh issues contains inconsis- tencies and mandatory reporting of carnal abuse deters referrals to the wcjf. A legal reform programme should accompany implementation, to address the broader limitations of srh laws and policies affecting women and children.
This should include a revision to the Education Regulations 1980) to alter the requirement for girls to leave school during pregnancy. 66 7.0 executive summary the ministry of Education s vision of education for all is at risk for a particular cohort of Jamaican children: school-age girls who become pregnant. While the enactment of the Child Care and Protection Act gives statutory weight to parents responsibility to ensure that all school-age children enjoy their right to education, discrimination, stigmatisation and the absence of sanctionable standards hinder the educational rights of school-age mothers. Exclusion currently occurs as the Education Regulations, 1980 provides that a girl who becomes pregnant shall leave school during the period of her pregnancy. The minister of Education has the discretion to facilitate the re-entry of such girls to educational institutions, but no policy framework previously existed for the exercise of this discretion. Instead, schools have at times misinterpreted the provision to treat girls absence from school as permanent.
Parenting education, family planning and srh training, time management and budgeting form part of a wider life skills development focus intended to motivate girls to maximise their potential. This holistic approach that has attracted the attention of several Caribbean and African states seeking to adapt the wcjf model in improving their national responses to teen pregnancy. In adapting the model, many countries fill the loophole ob- 67 7 key concerns stigma and discrimination are among the main concerns of school-age mothers returning to school. Parenting challenges are typically faced by both schoolage mothers and their parents. This may be linked to gaps in the level of family support available to the teen mother.
Recommendations support systems covering critical issues such as the cost of school attendance, nutrition of child and mother and child care, should be addressed through brokered partnerships with families, schools and community organisations Special outreach programmes may be necessary for geographically remote or disabled school-age. Realised, we all must play our part in the implementation of this policy. Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights (unesco, 2005). All our students should have the right to education regardless of their circumstances. I offer special commendations to all members of the reintegration Policy development Committee as well as the United Nations Population Fund. Your efforts have resulted in the production of an instrument that we anticipate will increase the life chances of school-aged mothers and their offspring. Special needs/disabled tchoolage mothers are at a greater disadvantage and are often underserved by public education and other interventions.
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The policy development process involved high level participation by a wide cross section of stakeholders including state and non-state agencies, the private business sector, communities, parents, with students, faith-based organisations and professional associations such as the jamaica teachers Association, jamaica Association for guidance counsellors in Education, and. I commend their commitment and invaluable contribution to this extremely important process. By producing this policy document, the ministry of Education is being true to its mantra that every Child Can learn, every Child Must learn. If this is to be 6 appendix 5 the womeentre aodel the women s Centre first emerged as the Programme for Adolescent Mothers established by the bureau of Women s Affairs in At the time, 30 of live births were to school -age mothers, who. The centre was registered and gained foundation status, in order to facilitate the management of donor funds, and to attract private sponsorship. It remains a state-operated entity, receiving annual subventions and reporting to the minister with portfolio responsibilities for Gender Affairs. The centre s model combines academic and vocational training with a range of support services typically needed by school-age mothers to adjust to their new status and prepare for return to school. This includes counselling for school-age mothers, their children s fathers and their own parents or guardians.
These statistics have resulted in the programme s celebrated achievement of its mandate to educate teen mothers and facilitate their reintegration into the formal school system. However, as one researcher has pointed out, this mandate does not guarantee the future success of the wcjf graduate. As at 1996, approximately 46 of returning students drop out of high school post-reintegration, based on the lack of support services available to these new mothers, their children and families. This represents an area of growth and development for the wcjf and the wider education system in Jamaica. 68 5 6 Foreword by honourable reverend Ronald Thwaites, mp, jp minister of education the national Policy for the reintegration of School-age mothers into the formal School System equal will help all our people in understanding the rights and responsibilities of students who become pregnant and. Although the Education Regulations (1980) makes provision for readmission, there have been many cases in which students have been denied access based on the interpretation of some school administrators. This policy seeks to put an end to this practice by specifying regulations, mechanisms and procedures that are to be followed to ensure that the girls return to school in order to continue their education.
policy deliverable Areas 32 Environmental Considerations 44 Legislative framework 45 Linkages 50 Appendices 55 The committee for the reintegration. Thanks and appreciation are also extended to all 4 69 5 served in the jamaican experience, whereby the lack of clear policy guidelines have unduly complicated the process of placing girls back into the formal school system. Mandatory reintegration and completion of secondary education have thus been seen as key additions to the wcjf model. Girls are coached and provided with family planning advice and services, with a view to delaying a second pregnancy until education and career goals are achieved. A 1996 study estimated that wcjf students had a 98 chance of delaying a second pregnancy by at least five years. This, added to a higher rate of completing secondary level and tertiary education, gives wcjf students a higher level of employability and earning power than teen mothers who have not completed the programme. Participants in the stakeholder consultations, that is, pivpot Consulting Limited, which led the policy development process; the policy Analysis Research and Statistics Unit of the ministry of Education, for technical advice; staff of the women s Centre of Jamaica foundation and the guidance and counselling.
Jamaica Association of Principals for Secondary Schools. Jamaica teachers Association. National Family Planning board. National Parent teachers Association of Jamaica. National Centre for youth development. Pey and Associates. Unfpa, united owl Nations Population Fund.
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1 national policy produced by the business ministry of Education and the women s Centre of Jamaica foundation, Office of the Prime minister with technical and financial support of the United Nations Population Fund (unfpa) 72 reintegration of School-Age mothers into the formal School System. 2 71 3 table of contents reintegration committee. Guidance and counselling Unit, ministry of Education (Chair). Women s Centre of Jamaica foundation, Office of the Prime minister (co-chair). Child development Agency. Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences child Abuse. Jamaica Association of Principals and Vice Principals.