Thailand has implemented a new directive to prohibit schools, colleges and education institutions from expelling, banning or transferring pregnant schoolgirls. Previously, it was easy for an institution to get rid of pregnant students but the new directive, published in the Royal Gazette on Friday, has put a stop to all that.
The mandate was jointly signed by the Education Ministry and Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry, reported The Nation.
The latest directive is an updated version of the 2018 bill that prohibited educational institutions from expelling pregnant schoolgirls. The earlier draft, however, allowed for the transfer of pregnant students to other schools or colleges, which was subsequently exploited as a legal loophole.
Under the revised directive, educational institutions are not permitted to transfer a pregnant schoolgirl unless the student herself chooses to do so. The footnote accompanying the new regulation notes that a revision was required due to numerous instances where pregnant women were moved out of their schools or colleges against their wishes.
The regulation noted…
“The latest revision is necessary to protect pregnant students’ right to an education in an institution, format and period in accordance with their wishes.”
The ministerial directive applies to primary and high schools, vocational institutions, and higher education institutes, and not only prohibits the expulsion of pregnant students but also requires educational institutions to establish a system to support young expectant mothers so they can continue their studies. Additionally, schools and colleges must provide maternity leave to young mothers and adjust their schedules accordingly.
To ensure that pregnant students receive appropriate health services, the directive mandates that the schools or colleges establish a system to arrange for them to be escorted to relevant government agencies or service facilities.
According to data from the United Nations Population Fund, the rate of teenage pregnancy in Thailand has steadily increased from 2002 to 2014, with 32 of every 1,000 girls under the age of 19 have been pregnant at least once in 2002, rising to 53 in 2014. While the Bureau of Reproductive Health reports a decrease in the number of children born to women aged 15-19 from 31 in 2019 to 28 in 2020, the number of pregnant teenagers has risen to 47 per 1,000 in 2021.
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