Sun | Sep 20, 2020

Initiative to save teenage mothers receives thumbs up

Published:Monday | May 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Professor Anthony Clayton
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange (right,) and State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Alando Terrelonge (left) enjoy the company of Victoria Rowell, guest speaker at the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation's 40th Anniversary Charity Ball held on Saturday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

A programme recently launched by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, geared towards saving teenage mothers from a life of struggle, has received support from University of the West Indies Sustainable Development professor, Anthony Clayton.

Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange launched the Advanced Secondary, Tertiary, Remedial Education for Adolescent Mothers (A-Stream) during the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation's 40th anniversary charity ball last Saturday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

The programme is designed to prevent pregnant teenagers from dropping out of school. Clayton described the initiative as important, explaining that it could serve as an avenue to reduce criminality.




"One of the best predictors of a child going to get involved in gangs and crimes is to have a poorly educated teenage mother. That doesn't mean you necessarily will get involved in gangs or become a criminal, but statistically, this is one of the strongest predictors," argued Clayton.

"What that means is that if you are born to a poorly educated teenage mother, the chances of you being raised properly and by somebody who has economic support are enormously reduced.

"Those are factors that contribute to the problems we now have with gangs and crime. We have so many people born to mothers who do not have the ability or skill and knowledge and money to raise children properly. I am very much in favour of the programme," Clayton said.

Under the programme, 40 adolescent mothers will be paired with 40 mentors who will encourage them to complete their education, while assisting them with critical life skills. Forty bursaries of $40,000 are to be awarded to each teenage mother to assist with school expenses. A-Stream also will provide scholarships to four adolescent mothers who have matriculated to tertiary-level studies.