18-year-old student wrote exam 30 minutes after giving birth

An 18-year-old student who was rushed to hospital from an exam hall tells the BBC she went back to complete her tests just 30 minutes after giving birth.

“I decided for myself that I wanted to complete my baccalaureate,” Fatoumata Kourouma says.

She had turned up to the exam hall, in the Guinean town of Mamou, on Tuesday morning but staff sent her to hospital.

“I’d started having stomach pains on Monday night but didn’t know I was going to give birth,” she told AFP.

“I worked up the courage to do the exam the next day, without saying anything to my husband or the school,” she added.

“I was worried they might ask me to stay at home or visit the doctor.”

It was only once she had arrived at the hospital that she realised she was about to give birth. And when her baby boy was born after a quick labour, she handed him over to her parents so she could go back and finish her baccalaureate exams in Physics and French.

“The session had already begun but the invigilators allowed me to go back in,” Mrs Kourouma tells the BBC, adding that she felt well at the time and was not in pain.

She says she and her son are both in good health. A relative of hers told AFP news agency that her husband, a corporal in the police, was thrilled and telling everyone who would listen about “this terrific woman”.

One in three women in Guinea give birth by the time they are 18, says the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

It is also one of the 18 African countries that have no laws or policies designed to keep pregnant girls or adolescent mothers in schools, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.

Life is even harder for girls in countries like Tanzania and Sierra Leone where they are expelled from school as a matter of government policy.

But there are laws protecting pregnant girls’ right to stay in school, or return to education, in Nigeria, Benin and DR Congo, among others.

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