Basseterre, St. Kitts (Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs) – The Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs welcomes Horsford’s involvement as the main partner and corporate supporter of the long-standing Project Viola Teen Mothers Programme. This new initiative, known as ‘The Horsfords’s Project Viola Teen Mothers Educational Scholarship Initiative’ will provide financial support to Project Viola students pursuing tertiary education.
Teen mothers are one of the most vulnerable groups in society who face many challenges, including social stigma, poverty, and exclusion. Project Viola was established by the Department of Gender Affairs (St. Kitts), following a policy decision of the St. Kitts and Nevis Federal Cabinet in 1997 that reiterated the right of teenage mothers to complete their mainstream education. The programme provides essential support services to teen mothers, including access to counselling, childcare, social support, education, and economic empowerment initiatives.
Over the past 25 years, with assistance from the public and private sectors, the project has produced many successes and demonstrated its effectiveness as a poverty reduction strategy with former students employed in a variety of professional occupations, including banking, healthcare and entrepreneurship. The daughter of one former beneficiary is a university student and refers to herself as a “Cycle Breaker”; as a family member from two generations of teen mothers, she acknowledges that “the programme makes cycle breaking possible.”
During the period 2017 to 2022, Project Viola served 51 teen mothers, with 71% successfully completing their secondary education. However, data reveals that students enrolled in tertiary-level programmes require additional support. Over the same timeframe, 35% of students dropped out of tertiary education citing financial difficulty or the need to pursue employment as reasons.
The Ministry is delighted to receive an annual commitment of EC$4,400.00 (four thousand four hundred Eastern Caribbean Dollars) from Horsfords. This sponsorship will make a significant impact on our efforts to provide better support to programme participants in St. Kitts. The Project Viola Teen Mothers Educational Scholarship Initiative will enhance access to tertiary education by making provisions for transportation, school supplies, and lunch subsidy. We recognize that education can serve as a catalyst for social change which better equips persons to secure better-paying jobs, thus combatting the risk of social and economic exclusion; with the added benefits of empowering teen mothers to improve their economic status while contributing to the economy and well-being of their own families.
The Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs thanks S. L. Horsford & Co. Ltd for their partnership in our social protection programme, and looks forward to many more years of continued success of programme participants developing the tools to create a fulfilling life for themselves and their children.