Girls as young as 14 got pregnant during the last scholastic year in Malta, shocking parliamentary figures have revealed.
Tabled by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, the statistics revealed that between September 2018 and July 2019, 30 schools girls who attended secondary school got pregnant.
Three girls were aged 14, eleven girls were 15, and seventeen girls had turned 16.
Worryingly, teenage pregnancy has a devastating effect on a young mother’s educational prospects, with just seven of the 30 girls completing the academic year.
None of the 16-year-old pregnant girls, who would have been sitting for their o-levels, finished school.
The 30 girls will all get assistance from Servizz Għożża, which offers support to teenage parents both in terms of education and birth.
Malta has regularly recorded one the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, despite figures dropping over the last few years. The most recent statistics show that close to 5.3% of births were from women in their teens.
In recent years the number of babies born to teenage mothers has been on a downward trend, with the rate spiking to 278 in 2009 before dropping by more than half to 134 by 2015 before increasing slightly by 2017.
The number of teenage pregnancies runs in the opposite trend to Malta’s fertility rate, which is the lowest in the EU.
The issue of teenage pregnancy has been raised by Malta’s Children’s Commissioner, who has argued the UN’s position to enforce the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls, which includes the safe access to abortion and post-abortion services.