The Government of Jamaica and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have entered into a five-year Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) 2012, valued at US$13.85 million or just over $1.2 billion in support of national efforts to improve the welfare of marginalised and vulnerable families and children.
The grant was formalised during a signing ceremony on Thursday (April 24) at the offices of the Ministry of Youth and Culture in New Kingston.
Signing on behalf of the government, Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, welcomed the timeliness of the international support, noting that it takes place against the backdrop of much public concern about the welfare of the nation’s children.
These concerns, she said, related from reports of physical and sexual abuse of children, crimes by children leading to their remand by the state, and infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
Minister Hanna emphasised that if these problems are not addressed in a “meaningful and strategic way, they will not only get seriously out of control but will lead to damaging and irreparable consequences for the development of our country."
She disclosed that over the past three months the Ministry has taken a strategic decision to take a more “integrated approach” to dealing with issues relating to youth and children, which harmonised with the UNICEF programme.
She stated that the CPAP is designed to achieve measurable objectives and that the co-ordinated action for child development is one that “we support because experience has taught us that this approach involving all stakeholders is the most sustainable way to treat with addressing some of the serious problems facing our children and our youth."
The start of this new programme cycle, the Minister stated, represents a commitment by all players in this national and international partnership, to take action to achieve specific objectives aimed at improving the welfare of children and advancing their holistic development.
CPAP 2012 builds on some of the outcomes of the Basic Cooperation Agreement concluded between the government and UNICEF on February 15, 1995.
Among the key targets of the programme, which ends in 2016 are: equipping 50 per cent of the most vulnerable adolescent boys and girls ages 10 to 18 years in targeted communities with life skills, access to quality healthcare services; improving child protection services for child victims of abuse and violence and children, who come in contact with the law; and mastery of entrance assessment to primary schools by 40 per cent of six-year old girls and boys from Jamaica’s poorest and most volatile communities.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter