Teen moms whose lives were put on hold when they got pregnant and had to raise their child can now take a step toward a better life with the Teen Mom Scholarship Program or Dalagang Ina Scholarship, founded by Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Inc.and SexAndSensibilities.com, two women’s groups focused on empowering women on their sexual and reproductive rights and raising awareness on sexual reproductive health. The program is funded by The Equity Initiative.
According to the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), an average of 530 teenage girls get pregnant every day since 2017. In another report by the United Nations Fund, the Philippines is the only country that saw the rate of teen pregnancy rise in the last two decades.
Many of these teen moms are at the poverty threshold. According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), young mothers lose about Php24 billion to Php47 billion in earnings annually due to an early pregnancy. Not only does it affect their education, it also affects their income.
The Teen Mom scholarship gives 15 young mothers a chance to enroll in a Technical Education and Skill Development Authority (TESDA) school and choose a vocational course like massage or unisex haircutting, hotel and restaurant management, barista, beauty care, and baking. The course is paid for and they also get a Php250 daily allowance for the TESDA class and on-the-job training if the course requires it.
“Also included are materials and the TESDA assessment fee, [which] they need to take at the end of the course to get their certification,” shares Ana Santos, founder and editorial director of Sex and Sensibilities, in an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger. “We are also working with the local government PESO (Public Employment Service Office) to help them with job placement.”
Conceptualized in late 2018, the program was part of Ana’s fellowship under the Equity Initiative (EI). “As a fellow, we spent the first year of the project learning about health inequities in the region. The second year is applying those lessons through a project. EI is the funder of this program.”
Deadline for applications ended last August 31, 2019, but funding for a second term will be the deciding factor for future slots opening under the scholarship. “One of the objectives is to make it sustainable through proper funding,” Ana shares. “We will document the program and its results and hope that will be proof of concept for the other local government units to adapt a similar program.”
Currently, six women from the first batch were qualified to enroll for a course. They will start attending their chosen TESDA course on Monday, September 9.
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Women who become pregnant in their teens face a number of challenges from health and mental risks to emotional turmoil. Click here to learn more about the health risks that accompany teen pregnancy.