A law was passed yesterday, May 26, 2011, by the Legislative Assembly in El Salvador, which gives students who become pregnant the right to continue their studies without being expelled or discriminated against in educational institutions.
The Legislative Assembly approved reforms to the General Law of Education that indicate is it prohibited for public or private educational centers to adopt “measures that impede, limit or disrupt the initiation or normal continuation of studies by students who are pregnant or breastfeeding. (translated from Spanish)
I was happy to hear the news, but surprised that 11 years post-millennium, students are still being expelled from school for pregnancy. I wanted to see how prevalent this phenomenon was, so did some research.
The first statistic is from the Ministry of Education in El Salvador: in 2009, 1,191 youth were discriminated against or expelled for pregnancy; of those, 41% could not continue their studies, stated Jaime Valdez of the FMLN.
ElSalvadorNoticias.net: Datos proporcionados por el Ministerio de Educación, en el año 2009 fueron discriminadas o expulsadas por dicho motivo 1,191 jóvenes; de las cuales el 41% no pudieron continuar con sus estudios posteriormente, señaló el diputado Jaime Valdez, del FMLN.
In an October 2008 report presented to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Salvadoran Attorney General/Ombudsman for Human Rights Defense cited that discrimination against pregnant youth by the educational community was a human rights problem in El Salvador. (Paragraph number 93).
The good news is that some educational institutions have been ahead of this law for a long time: one such is the National Institute of Santa Ana. According to a September 2003 article on Elsalvador.com (Diaro de Occidente / Diaro de Hoy), INSA (Instituto Nacional de Santa Ana) began a program 4 years prior (1999) to help young mothers stay in school. At the article’s date there were 2 pregnant students in their high school program. However, the article states, in private schools, if a student becomes pregnant, she is expelled immediately for breaking the school’s regulations. The article stated that the Ministry of Education in Santa Ana gives [educational] institutions the authority to establish their own rules for deciding if it’s an infraction or not.
And here we are today. Progress is evident by passage of this new law, where 57 Diputados (they are like Senators) voted in favor and 6 against, with 3 absent.
Headlines with links to articles in Spanish reporting the news:
La Asamblea Legislativo aprobó reformas a la Ley General de Educación que permitirá que las adolescentes embarazadas puedan continuar con sus estudios.
La Asamblea Legislativa aprobó reformas a la Ley General de Educación que indican que se prohíbe en los centros educativos del país, la adopción de medidas que impidan, limiten o perturben el inicio o continuidad normal de los estudios de las alumnas embarazadas o durante su período de lactancia, las autoridades de dicho centro educativo determinarán según el caso.