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Saint Lucia's Education Policy on Teen Mothers comes in for high commendation

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Thursday, June 8, 2006 – Saint Lucia's education policy concerning teenage mothers has attracted the praise of the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

Saint Lucia as party to the Convention has been identified as moving in the right direction. Director of Gender Relations Lera Pascal said the Education Act facilitates the continued educational development of female students who become pregnant.

“One of the things we were questioned about was the position of Saint Lucia on teenage pregnancy and teen motherhood at school. We were happy to tell them that in Saint Lucia there is no policy that prevents a teen mother from attending school. There is no such policy. As a matter of fact the Education Act makes it illegal for any child under the age of fifteen to be out of school.”

However in light of the extenuating factors that can mitigate against a teen mother's continuation of school, Ms. Pascal said the state has implemented successful mechanisms to provide support systems for young mothers to continue to develop educationally. One such example is the National Skills Development Centre – NSDC.

“Apart from doing their studies in whatever fields, there is a child care component so the children can be put into the nursery and they can learn about child care and at the same time and they do their studies . I think this is an excellent arrangement.”

Ms. Pascal says to deprive a young mother of her education would be to perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty in most cases.

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