Women’s Centre helps mothers excel at CSEC
The Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), a government agency under the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, has long dispensed with the notion that a pregnancy during the adolescent years prohibits realisation of a career goal.
The mandate of the WCJF is to provide continuing education for adolescent mothers and have them reintegrated into the formal school system after the birth of their babies. However, it is recognised that reintegration would not apply to the grade-11 girls.
In ensuring that these older girls are not left behind, the WCJF prepares them to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in classes that are offered at the Kingston centre, which is also an examination site.
Over the years, the girls in the rural centres commuted to the Kingston centre to access the CSEC classes. This arrangement proved untenable for the girls and, eventually, there were no girls from the rural sites registering to sit the CSEC.
As a remedial measure, in 2015-16, WCJF began transmitting the CSEC classes from the Kingston centre to the rural sites via an online platform. This has astronomically increased the number of girls from the rural sites registering to sit the CSEC at the WCJF.
For the 2016-17 sitting of the examinations, 68 adolescent mothers were facilitated, 36 of whom were registered in the virtual classes delivered at the rural sites. Several of the girls were faced with multifaceted challenges that threatened to derail them. Yet, 42 per cent of the girls received passes in three to seven subjects; another 27 per cent gained passes in two or one subject(s). Although there is much room for improvement, the WCJF loudly applauds the performance of the adolescent mothers in the 2017 sitting of the CSEC.
The successes were achieved by the commitment of the staff who counselled and tutored the young mothers; the support of their family and friends; sponsorship provided by: the Female Judges Association of Jamaica, Women's Health Network, the National Family Planning Board, and the Grace Missionary Church.
Most importantly, the adolescent mothers achieved success by their innate sense of ambition, purpose, and resilience.
The CSEC programme delivered at the WCJF has the full support of its umbrella ministry - the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, its board of directors, and several public- and private-sector entities.
The foundation is therefore poised to enable the adolescent mothers who are within the grade-11 age cohort to sit the CSEC. These girls are encouraged to register at the site nearest to them, and join the 'Sisterhood of a Second Chance', where no adolescent mother is left behind.