Almaz Derese, 21, and her son on Wednesday, June, 12, 2019.
Addis Ababa CNN  — 

A woman in Ethiopia took her final year exams in hospital just 30 minutes after giving birth to a baby boy.

Almaz Derese, 21, went into labor overnight Monday and delivered her baby on the day her secondary school exams were due to start.

Derese told CNN she did not want to wait another year to sit the exams.

“Although it was very hard to take an exam after giving birth, I did not want to waste the opportunity that I tirelessly worked for a decade,” she said.

Derese, who lives in the Illu Aba Bora district, in Ethiopia’s southwest, sat for papers in English, Maths and Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language.

Kebede Negesu, the district’s education head, told CNN they assigned an examiner to monitor her while she wrote the exams at the hospital.

“Her husband told us [Almaz] was unable to sit for the exam in a classroom, and we asked her whether she would be able to take the exam or not. She said ‘yes,’” Negesu said.

Almaz got married at the age of 17, but says her husband always encouraged her to continue her education.

“My husband was so supportive, and he always encouraged me to be strong in my education. When I say that I must take the exam right after giving birth, he did not hesitate to help me,” she said.

Almaz returned to the exam center on Tuesday to take more tests.

It is not unusual for pregnant girls to continue their education in secondary schools in Ethiopia, where more than 40 percent of young girls are married before the age of 18.

According to a 2018 UNICEF report, the country is home to 15 million child brides, and more than a third of them were married before they were 15 years.

More than 11 students, who gave birth since the start of the National Examinations on Monday have also sat for their tests, a spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s education ministry told CNN.

“We have seen more students giving birth. The number has more than tripled since last year,” Haregua Mamo said.

About 1.2 million students are taking the national examination, of which half are women, according to Haregua.

Journalist Samson Berhane reported from Addis Ababa and CNN’s Bukola Adebayo wrote from Lagos.