The first batch of teenage mothers to benefit from a school reintegration programme graduated on Friday after completing courses in cooking and cake decoration at the Carnegie School of Home Economics.
The programme, a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Education and the Carnegie School of Home Economics, offers opportunities to teen mothers to get back into the education system. The programme gives the teen mothers the option to attend technical vocational institutions or even get back in school to complete their secondary education.
Over a five-week period, 30 young ladies were taught various skills in cooking and cake decoration by the Carnegie School of Home Economics. The purpose of this particular programme was to equip the mothers with skills to take care of themselves and their children.
The young mothers were presented with certificates at the end of the programme, at a small informal session on Friday.
One of the teen mothers, Tasima Campbell, who successfully completed the programme, told this newspaper that she had heard of the programme through her grandmother. “My grandmother told me about it because I ended up dropping out of school because I was pregnant. So, that’s how I ended up coming here to learn how to cook. The experience was very good because I learned how to prepare foods like vegetable rice, baked custard, fish fingers and other stuff,” she explained.
When asked what her plans are after completing the programme, Campbell said, “Well I said that when I’m older I will open a canteen by myself and start to cook so I can make money.”
A mother of two, Melisa Boston stated that she found out about the programme through the community clinic where she takes her children for check-ups. “I’ve learned a lot of things during the programme, like how to make pineapple chicken, parch nuts, bake macaroni and other things. I feel good that, you know, I learned a lot and so on. I hope to use the skills to find a job and so to take care of my kids them,” she said.
Addressing the graduates, Dr Karen Boyd, the deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Public Health stated that the initiative was a part of their community support programme for young mothers. She encouraged the young women to take the skills that they would’ve acquired over the five week period, not only to take care of themselves and their children but to expand and even open businesses.
“I want to leave this quotation with you: ‘I can imagine nothing that is worse than losing sight but losing or not having a vision is far worse.’” Boyd further encouraged the young women to invest in themselves and, in turn, invest in their children.
The reintegration programme is set to continue in January 2019, with another batch of 30 teenage mothers, who would have either recently given birth or are still pregnant.