Toycie and Bekka are both Creole girls. In Belize at the time, the Creoles had lost a lot of power that they originally had. People with whiter skin - the Panias - were more powerful in education and in politics. So Creoles were treated by Panias, Bakras and Expatriates (all on a higher social level than Creoles) as second-class citizens. This is a problem for Toycie and Bekka because Toycie's boyfriend, Emilio, is a Pania - a higher class than she - and he refuses to marry her when he gets her pregnant.
In addition, education was not free. To get a good education, children had to go to private schools, which meant expensive tuition. Toycie's aunt has to work many jobs in order to send Toycie to St. Ceceila's Catholic School. Toycie is a good student, though, and she does well there. Bekka does not. The only way that Toycie can escape her extreme poverty and not wind up with a menial job (the washboard under the house) is to get a good education. When she gets pregnant and is kicked out of school, this ruins her chances to escape poverty.
Another problem facing girls growing up in Belize is unwanted pregnancy. Many of the young women in Toycie and Bekka's world have already had children out of wedlock, and one neighbor's granddaughter has three children by three different men. Toycie and Bekka are always being warned about "winding up with a baby instead of a diploma." Bekka is the only one that lives in a nuclear family. Many of the other families, including Toycie's, are single mothers due to unwanted pregnancies.