Human Services Ministry eyes school for young mothers

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 19, 2000

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is exploring the possibility of establishing a school for young women whose education has been interrupted by pregnancy.

The intent to establish such a school was disclosed on Monday by Director of the Women's Affairs Bureau (WAB) Hazel Halley-Burnett at the orientation and induction ceremony of a two-week course for a batch of mainly young women from the Upper and Lower East Coast Demerara at the Guyana Women's Leadership Institute (GWLI) at Cove and John.

Noting that there are many who opposed the idea because they fear that the move may be a licence for young women to become mothers at an early age, Halley-Burnett said that on the other hand opportunities must be provided for young women to continue their education to develop themselves and make their contributions to society.

She pointed out that Jamaica has a school which caters for young women whose education was interrupted because of pregnancy. The school also provides day care facilities for the children of the student-mothers. "We are working towards establishing something like that," she added.

Halley-Burnett who delivered the main address on behalf of Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Indra Chandarpal, spoke about women in development over the years since the UN Decade of Women was launched in 1976, including the pieces of legislation passed in parliament which have dealt with gender issues.

Meanwhile, in a brief overview of the work of the Resource and Documentation Centre on Women located at the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security at Lot 1 Water and Cornhill Streets, the centre's manager, Yvonne Stephenson stressed the importance of information.

Stephenson, a former University of Guyana librarian, said that the information women were being asked to provide the documentation centre on their involvement in development in their communities may in a few decades from now form the basis of part of Guyana's history.

She also announced that the centre has begun a quarterly newsletter which highlights the activities of women. While it is intended that the newsletter will provide information about what women are doing countrywide, she said that its aim is not to be restricted to Guyana alone but also to carry information concerning women's development in the Caribbean and further afield.

Stephenson also noted that the availability of computers at the centre makes it possible to network with women in the region, the Commonwealth and the Third World.

She noted that through networking she was able to establish that apart from Guyana, which has the only women's leadership institute in the region, there is another such institute in Nairobi, Kenya with which information may be shared.

Rural women are being urged to provide information about development programmes in which they or other women have been involved to the Resource and Documentation Centre so that it could be put on record and preserved for posterity as women's contribution to the development of the country.

GWLI Director, Wanda Chesney giving an overview of the activities of the institute said that all women taking part in courses being conducted at the institute will have to pursue a course in computer studies in the near future. At present computer studies is optional but with the capability of its computer centre the course will become compulsory.

The GWLI offers a range of subjects for women enrolled in courses at the institute. There are five core subjects which all course participants must do and three optional subjects.

The compulsory courses are Image Building and Etiquette, Healthy Lifestyles, Effective Communication, Women and Development and the Self. The optional courses are Principles of Management, Introduction to Management, Organisational Skills, Small Business Management, Quality Planning, Marketing, Skills Training, Customer Relations and Computer Training.

At the opening ceremony the facilitators also made presentations on the training programmes being offered, methods of evaluation and the role of the participants.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples