Pregnant girls attend classes at the Women's Centre in Kingston. (Photo: Women's Centre Foundation of Jamaica)
Pregnant girls attend classes at the Women’s Centre in Kingston. (Photo: Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica)

BRIDGETOWN,Barbados, Dec. 1 – “I had to leave school but he didn’t have to do anything different. It was only me who got punished for what we did.”
It was that realization, and not just the fact that she was pregnant at 14, that Roxanne says changed the direction of her life. After being forced to put a hold on her studies, she was bitter that the boy who had impregnated her – her classmate – remained in school and was able to “behave as if nothing happened”.
Roxanne believes that had she been allowed to stay in school while carrying her first child at that tender age, she would be in a far different place. As it stands, she is 24 with four children and no educational qualifications, although she is now making an effort to change the latter situation.
As was the case with Jozanne, the attitude of school administrators or an absence of parental support often makes it difficult for the young mothers to continue their education.
And although the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has made reducing teen pregnancies a priority, it’s also encouraging continued education of pregnant teenagers and supporting them to prevent additional pregnancies.
That is exactly one of the goals of the Choices Adolescent Mothers Programme in Trinidad and Tobago. At any one of the programme’s six centres you can find pregnant teens and adolescent mothers receiving counselling, pre- and post-natal guidance, skills training, and lessons in English, Mathematics and a few other subjects, while babies are taken care of in a nursery on site.
“These young women need to continue their education,” says the manager of one of the centres, Florence Gonzales. “If they don’t, what are we doing?”
The UNFPA agrees. It is hoping to see, through the Integrated Strategic Framework for the Reduction of Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean developed in conjunction with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), reintegrate adolescents into school after pregnancy.
Several other Caribbean islands have similar programmes, including the Adolescent Mothers Programme of the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica, which the UNFPA has held up as a “good practice”.