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UNICEF aims to ensure the right to education for young parents in Argentina

© UNICEF Argentina/2011/Haar
"I want to have a good job, take care of my girls, and have the best for them. But I will only be able to do that if I finish my studies," says Jonathan Pavon, 17, father of twin girls.

By Julia Assef

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, 12 August 2011 – Jonathan Pavon, 17, is finishing up the last year of secondary school in Quilmes, a medium-sized municipality in the suburbs of the nation capitol of Buenos Aires. As a young father to two eight-month-old twin girls, Maia and Umma, he constantly struggles with the idea of dropping out of school and entering the work force.

Creating better strategies

His reality is the same as many young Argentineans who’ve had to abandon classes and educational opportunities in order to maintain their families. In Buenos Aires, nearly 45 per cent of young people aged 18 -24 have given up their studies to work.

To address this problem, a national education law was established in 2006, which mandates access to secondary school. Stressing equity, UNICEF Argentina in partnership with Buenos Aires’ provincial government aims to develop projects which promote the right of youth and adolescents to a proper education.

© UNICEF Argentina/2011/Haar
Jonathan is attending the last year of secondary school in Quilmes, municipality in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

“We are seeking a secondary school that includes adolescents, breaking the seal of selective origin, creating more and better strategies to guarantee the social right to education,” said UNICEF Argentina Education Specialist Elena Duro.

Path interrupted

The project ‘Maternal Rooms in Secondary School’ was started for this express purpose. Providing some 300 young boys and girls the opportunity to continue their studies while they raise their families, there are thirty rooms equipped with all the teaching materials and furniture needed to provide care to children or younger siblings of secondary school students.

School inspector for Quilmes municipality, Alejandra Boschini, explained that for many students, parenthood interrupts their path to a full education. “The nursery rooms at schools are important,” she said. “…because they guarantee the right to study."

Ailín Righetti, 18, studies at Escuela Media Three. She and her boyfriend will have their first child in a few months. If it’s a girl, they want to call her Priscilla Belén, if it’s a boy, perhaps Ricardo Benjamín. Despite having doubts about the names, she is certain of one thing - providing a good future for her child. "My sister had her first child at age 15, and had to leave school,” she said. “I want to finish my studies and probably become a nurse."

© UNICEF Argentina/2011/Haar
The maternal room at Media Three School, in Quilmes, is one of the 30 rooms UNICEF helped equipping with teaching materials and furniture needed to provide care to children or younger siblings of secondary school students.

A brighter future

In the schools with maternal rooms, children and adolescents are also taught Comprehensive Sexual Education. The Argentinean Ministry of Education has a national program that, among other strategies, develops materials and training for all teachers so that students will have knowledge in comprehensive sexual education from the initial level to secondary school.  

"This program aims to educate and sensitize young people about the importance of continued education, promoting a comprehensive sexual education,” explained Ms. Duro. “We don’t want to promote teen pregnancy, as we are educating on prevention." She went on to stress the need for young parents to finish their studies, in order to break the cycle of poverty that a lack of education perpetuates.
With initiatives like this, UNICEF is helping young Argentineans achieve their right to a brighter future, for themselves as well as their children.



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