Malaysia's first school for pregnant teens receives first intake

Malaysia`s first school for pregnant teens receives first intake Kuala Lumpur: Five heavily pregnant teenagers signed up to become the pioneer students at Malaysia's first school dedicated to pregnant teenagers.

Accompanied by their families, the girls, aged between 16 and 17, unmarried and into the second trimester of their pregnancies, came to register at the aptly named Sekolah Harapan or School of Hope yesterday, which is located in Malacca state.

The school was conceived by the Malacca Chief Minister Mohamed Ali Rustam, who wanted the teenagers to continue their studies without being stigmatized and as a way to curb the rising phenomenon of ''baby dumping.''

''Out-of-wedlock pregnancy cases are increasing nationwide and rather than sweeping the problem under the carpet, we should take action to address the problem before it become worse,'' the New Straits Times daily quoted him saying after he toured the premises on Sunday.

The idea was sparked by concerns over the number of cases reported of babies, either dead or alive, being abandoned in garbage dumps, thrown into rivers or left for dead on the street.

Up to this year alone, there were some 70 cases reported nationwide and according to Ali, most of them involved Muslim girls.

The school, which can accommodate 40 students, is run by the Malacca Islamic Affairs Department and was originally planned for Muslims, but now it has been decided that everyone, irrespective of religion or race, would be accepted.

That came after an ethnic Chinese girl who is non-Muslim applied. She is one of the five girls accepted into the school.

Besides studying for subjects offered by normal schools like mathematics, science and history, these girls would also be given counseling and lessons on baby care.