A scholarship programme titled A-STREAM (Advancing Secondary Tertiary Remedial Education for Adolescent Mothers), which aims to empower young women, will be launched on May 26 by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) during a Charity Ball at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
Forty (40) girls enrolled at the secondary level and four tertiary students will be presented with A-STREAM grants and scholarships to complete their education during the event, which is one of several year-long activities celebrating the WCJF 40th anniversary in 2018.
The Centre was established in 1978 in response to the high rate of adolescent pregnancy in Jamaica. Executive Director, Dr. Zoe Simpson, made the announcement while speaking at a cultural series titled ‘Four Women’ at the Institute of Jamaica Lecture Hall, East Street, downtown Kingston on March 11.
The event was held to commemorate Women’s History Month during March 2018. Dr. Simpson said the Ball will assist in raising funds for the A-STREAM scholarship programme, along with sponsorship from corporate Jamaica.
The Executive Director said the Centre is seeking mentors “to provide emotional support for the girls to cope as mothers and to complete their education”.
“We will be giving forty (40) girls, who will be transitioning back to (high) school, grants of $40,000, so they can afford to pay their expenses and complete their education and not drop out a second time. We are asking for forty (40) women to walk beside (those) forty (40) girls to ensure that they press for progress” she said.
Dr. Simpson told JIS News that although girls dropping out of school after becoming pregnant are reintegrated into the formal school system after attending the Centre, research shows that about 46 per cent of them falter a second time.
“In order to ensure that more girls complete (their education), we are providing them with a mentorship programme and a scholarship programme,” she said. Dr. Simpson noted that some of the girls who do not need financial support might require emotional support to cope as mothers and students.
“The (mentors) will walk beside (them) and provide (them) with what (they) need as against a sponsor who will provide with financial assistance,” she said.
The Executive Director emphasised the need for persons who are familiar with or have an understanding of the situation with adolescent mothers to serve as mentors.
“We are looking for persons who are in corporate Jamaica (or) meaningfully employed (among other traits) to serve (in order that) the girls (may) recognise that they can do something with their lives,” Dr. Simpson added.