Government Undertaking $200 Million Pilot School Bus Service

Story Highlights

  • The Government is embarking on a $200 million pilot programme during the 2017/18 academic year to provide transportation for students in eight parishes who are on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), as well as wards of the State.
  • Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, who made the announcement, said the move is aimed at reducing the level of student absenteeism,  which is as high as 20 per cent, with anecdotal evidence suggesting a higher figure of 55 per cent.
  • This, he said, was mainly due to high transportation costs, particularly in rural sections of parishes, where students pay as much as $500 per day in some cases.

The Government is embarking on a $200 million pilot programme during the 2017/18 academic year to provide transportation for students in eight parishes who are on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), as well as wards of the State.

The parishes include: St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. James and Trelawny.

Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, who made the announcement, said the move is aimed at reducing the level of student absenteeism,  which is as high as 20 per cent, with anecdotal evidence suggesting a higher figure of 55 per cent.

This, he said, was mainly due to high transportation costs, particularly in rural sections of parishes, where students pay as much as $500 per day in some cases.

Senator Reid, who was addressing Wednesday’s (July 19) post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, said the Ministry is partnering with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which administers PATH, and the Ministry of Transport and Mining to roll out the pilot programme in September.

He indicated that this intervention is expected to complement the Labour Ministry’s existing transportation arrangements for students in 35 schools, at a cost of $30 million.

Senator Reid said the Education and Transport Ministries would be exploring how best the pilot can be expanded to other parishes by 2018, noting that “my vision is to have a full national school bus system.”

 

He also advised that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed an interest in supporting this provision and positioning it as a key component of PATH.

Senator Reid said the representatives of several motor vehicle dealerships in Japan have expressed an interest in providing buses for the service.

The Minister led a four-member delegation to the country on a nine-day visit earlier this month at the invitation of the Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation,

Additionally, he said members of the Diaspora have also indicated a desire to assist.

Senator Reid said he looked forward to “turning that vision (of providing student transportation into) reality in short order.”

“While we (Government) provide a lot of support at schools…if the children are not (able to get to) school, then they are not getting the benefits. So we really have to plug the problem (by providing transportation, where needed),” he added.

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