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Pregnant student stays in school

By Nalinee Seelal Wednesday, May 21 2014

A Form Two student, four months pregnant, has been allowed to continue her education at a secondary school in central Trinidad.

Newsday understands the girl’s mother asked the school administration to allow her daughter to attend classes during her pregnancy. The girl has been referred to a counsellor at the school.

The mother has reportedly told officials due to her own circumstances she was not in a position to deal with her daughter’s situation, but wanted the child to stay in school. The girl has indicated she wants to finish school after her baby is born.

It has been said the father, believed an older Form Five student, got her pregnant, although she admitted she also had sexual relations with a taxi-driver.

School authorities have reported the case to the police but up until yesterday neither the schoolboy or the taxi driver were questioned.

Several parents have opposed the school’s decision to allow the pregnant student to still attend classes, as they believe other girls may think it is fine to be sexually active and will be allowed to stay in school if they become pregnant.

There is also a report that a Form Five student became pregnant during a relationship with a soldier but opted to remain at home until the birth of her child.

These are among the latest cases of teen pregnancies that have surfaced this week, following disclosure of eight pregnancies at a school in south Trinidad by president of the National Parent Teachers Association Zena Ramatali. Police have since confirmed four pregnancies, with a man being charged for having sex with a teen in one of these cases.

In response, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh has said the pregnant students should be suspended.

An official of the Education Ministry yesterday said the case of the Central student will be investigated.

Yesterday, Ramatali, who has been calling for sex education to be part of the school syllabus, said she did not agree that the Central student be allowed in school.

“I think it is not a good example for the pregnant student to be allowed to attend school. They could be allowed to have the baby then placed in another school,” she said.

However, Ramatali said rising teen pregnancies were “very heart wrenching” as “young vulnerable children... are being taken advantage of and no one is being held accountable for it.”

“We need the intervention of the relevant authorities, with the Ministry of Education, the Student Support Services which can offer counselling and we need other agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, all these Ministries can offer services to children who have found themselves in this dilemma,” she said.

Ramatali said parents also need counselling.

“We need continued counselling and support for parents especially mothers who have now taken on the responsibility so that the students who have found themselves in this situation can be counselled and returned to school,” she said.

A press conference by the Education Ministry scheduled for today has been cancelled and a statement is expected to be issued, according to a release yesterday.

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