A total of 203,500 of the country’s most vulnerable students will benefit from back-to-school grants amounting to $1.6 billion, being provided by the Government.
This was announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who noted that most of the money – $1 billion – will be provided under the COVID Allocation of Resources to Employees (CARE) Programme.
In a statement to the House of Representatives on August 11, Dr. Clarke informed that the CARE Programme has been expanded to provide additional support to children within the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) and Poor Relief Programmes.
“Because of the COVID pandemic, the Government, for this fiscal year, will provide an overall back-to-school grant of $8,500 per student at the primary and secondary education level who are within the PATH or Poor Relief Programmes, to assist with the procurement of school supplies as the new academic year commences,” he said.
In addition, he noted that the Government will also provide a grant of $5,000 to every child at the early-childhood level within the PATH and Poor Relief Programmes.
“There was no provision for those before. This means that the provision under the CARE Programme will serve to increase the programmed PATH amount for students at the primary and secondary levels to $8,500 per student, while providing the $8,500 for each primary and secondary Poor Relief student. The CARE component will also cover the $5,000 per child at the early-childhood level,” Dr. Clarke explained.
He further informed that the disbursement of the back-to-school grant will be made through the regular PATH and Poor Relief payment avenues during the month of August.
“This means that the grant to the PATH students will be made by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security with the usual PATH bimonthly cash grant, while the grant to the Poor Relief students will be made by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development with the usual monthly payout,” he said.
Dr. Clarke pointed out that in the case where students are on both PATH and on Poor Relief, the back-to-school grant will be made through PATH.
Through the use of the existing PATH and Poor Relief payment channels for disbursement, the back-to-school grant will be delivered to the responsible adult registered with each Programme with which each student is associated.
Turning to another matter, Minister Clarke informed that the funds allocated for educational programmes under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) will be increased by $2 million.
“Given the pressing needs of back-to-school that have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic, for the current financial year (2020/2021), the upper limit for educational development projects will be moved from $10 million per constituency to $12 million,” he said.
Dr. Clarke said this will allow Members of Parliament to reallocate unused sums from other programmes to the educational component of the programme.
The CDF places restrictions on the maximum amount that can be allocated to a programme in a fiscal year.