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Teen-parent support class for Tauranga

Wednesday, 29 May 2002

The teen-parent support class at Tauranga’s Otumoetai College has attracted additional government funding, Tauranga-based Member of Parliament Margaret Wilson announced today.

Teenage parents have specific educational needs and the extra funding of $2,520 a year for each full-time student will ensure these are met, she said.

The class, which started in February this year, is the result of a joint initiative between local secondary schools, the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, private individuals and government agencies.

Currently 22 students are enrolled in the class, which is based on the Polytechnic campus next to existing childcare facilities. Students are also able to use the Polytechnic’s other facilities such as the library and take part in other cultural activities.

(Otumoetai College does not have the required space for the teen parent class and early childhood education facilities on its own campus.)

Margaret Wilson said there is a real need for the initiative in the Western Bay of Plenty where births to teenage mothers outstrip the national average.

“The pressures of raising a young child and studying make it difficult for many young parents to continue their schooling. There are difficulties arranging suitable childcare and they also face unsupportive school/classroom environments, transport difficulties, and both financial and time constraints.”

Tauranga’s teen-parents now have a learning environment with suitable care facilities attached, and teaching staff who understand the need to balance study with child-raising commitments, Margaret Wilson said.

“This staff guidance and support is further enhanced by peer support from other young parents who are also continuing their schooling.”

If space permits, the Otumoetai College may enrol some students who are above the age range to receive free education (up to 19 years) and have had their secondary education interrupted through teenage pregnancy, Margaret Wilson said.


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