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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Classes axed for schoolgirl mums
Pregnant woman
The west Belfast scheme provided classes for young mothers
A programme in west Belfast providing classes and a creche for schoolgirls who have babies has been cancelled.

The Belfast Education and Library Board said it decided to cut the School Age Mother project as most young mothers eventually return to their own schools.

The board has offered to bring girls from the Whiterock area to a similar service operating in north Belfast.

Sinn Fein MLA Michael Ferguson said it "beggared belief" that board members were not consulted about the decision.

"This is the first time in my experience that a cut to a service would not have gone to a committee, would not have gone before the full board," he said.

Scheme manager Deirdre Walsh said two young women were signed up to the scheme at the moment, but "pregnancy does not work to the academic year".

Representatives of children's charity Barnardo's, which is a partner in the Whiterock scheme, are to meet board officials next week to discuss the closure.

Northern Ireland's teenage pregnancy rates are among the highest in Europe and most often occur in areas of social and economic deprivation.

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