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 girls enrolled at the secondary level and four tertiary students will be presented with grants and scholarships to complete their education during the event, which is one of several yearlong 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, last weekend.
The event was held to commemorate Women’s History Month during March 2018.
Simpson said the ball will assist in raising funds for the 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 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 40 women to walk beside (those) 40 girls to ensure that they press for progress,” she said.
Simpson said 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.