HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS

25 Jul

Her name was *Camille. She was always neat. The six gores, box neck/bust blue tunic, with the zipper on the left side and a single pocket on the right, and a belt whether buckle or hook that we wore then looked perfect on Camille. Well not for very long.

This was and still is the design of the uniform

In third form her body started changing and the once perfectly fitted uniforms suddenly seemed to be getting too small for her. Initially we thought it was the natural puberty phase that all girls go through. her back no longer seemed to be the most appropriate place to carry her knapsack and suddenly traded places with her tummy. Then the rumours started. The pointing of fingers and the constant whispers of:

“Camille pregnant”. “Look how she carry the bag fi hide it”. “She nuh draw har belt tight anymore”.

As rumours swirled, Camille became more withdrawn. The tension in our classroom was palpable as everyone saw the changes in her body and attitude; we heard the rumours; but we couldn’t tell if they were true. We were bursting at the seams of our uniform with curiosity until…

“Camille, that boy deh over there so say that girl deh say another girl in 3F say you pregnant, a true? One curiously brave boy shouted close to the end of break period.

Everything stopped. Nobody moved. The classroom was a perfect tableau with the theme “oh no you didn’t”.

“Camille answer me nuh. A true say you pregnant and a dats why you start walk with yuh bag in front of you?” He asked impatiently and forcefully.

Camille turned to look at him with eyes blazing with anger as she hurled an entire ream of insults punctuated with expletives in his direction. All that venom summed in one sentence “Mind your own business”. In the end, her anger gave way to hurt and she vociferously denied the allegations. A tearful Camille then took up her bag, placed it on her back and walked out the classroom and made her way to the Science lab. That was the last day Camille came to school.

We heard several months later she had a beautiful baby girl. I was sorry for Camille. The rumours were harsh and we all know how unkind students can be to each other. But as much as I was sorry for her, I wouldn’t want to trade places. Had the shoe been on the other foot I would not be here to right this post. Because between my impatient, stern and no-nonsense father and my ferocious, tender-hearted tygress (tiger) grandmother, I would surely bid this world farewell.

Throughout high school, there were several others, and with each case, I always felt a twinge of pain. That is why it came as no surprise that when I met *Samantha, in one of my fourth form class, and learnt she was the mother of a one year old, I felt the same twinge of pain. At 16 years old she was a single mom.

Samantha was often tired in class; late with assignments; frequently absent from school; hardly had lunch; little or no material for classes. Yet, she worked so hard and begged her teachers to have leniency with her as she tried to balance full time study while being a full time mom. And oh, did I mention that she worked after school and on weekends?

At 16 years old, her responsibilities were more than some adults.

By the end of eleventh grade, Samantha passed all eight subjects she sat at the CSEC level gaining three grades ones, four grade twos, and one grade three.

This is a great success from a child who had so many distractions. However, this is just one of the few successful stories. The Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites made a pronouncement that about SIXTY PERCENT (60%) of high school girls are moms. I would loved to have asked the minister where he got his information but regardless of where he got it, it is not good.

Pregnant teens at Women Centre in Jamaica

In institution where students should be students and their only job is to learn and grow and develop, and 60% of them is derailed and is now faced with two mammoth tasks even before they are mentally ready, suggests that we have a crisis on our hand.

While some high school moms situation is not like Samantha’s, many of them are like Samantha’s. When they come to school with all this baggage, the teaching and learning process is sure to become disrupted. They will, more often than not, inadvertently not get the most out of their classes as they are burden with adult tasks or responsibilities that they cannot effectively carry out.

How then can we be surprised when students are not meeting certain academic criteria at the end of their high school tenure? How then can society blame teachers for not doing their jobs? How then can we blame the programmes that are in schools? How then…? How then…? How then…? And I could ask many more ‘how then…’.
As a society we need to realize the place we are at; the dark holes that some of our children are in and unite to reduce this percentage.

There is no way it is acceptable for 60% of our high school girls to mothers.

What say you?

*name change

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3 Responses to “HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS”

  1. Pink July 29, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    Another well written piece..

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  1. HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS | Reid & Write with Dorraine - July 29, 2015

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