MONTEGO BAY — The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is appealing to parents to get their children registered so that they can benefit from vital services and also provide data to assist the national planning process.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the RGD, Yvette Scott, noted that not only is birth registration important in giving people an identity and providing proof of existence, but it is also key in assisting the Government to plan for development and provide essential services to meet the needs of the population.
“The planners need it to ensure that, for example, a basic school is placed in the best location. So, if we have say, 40,000 children in Jamaica and they are not registered, the Minister of Education will not know how to plan for basic schools and so on, so it’s very important to have the registration so we can have the necessary information,” she pointed out.
“It is also important for persons to access the social services, because if you are registered and you walk into a school and you don’t have that birth certificate there is no way that you can show proof of your identity,” Ms. Scott added.
She was speaking to JIS News yesterday (September 21) at the fourth in the series of island wide registration fairs, held at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in Mount Salem, St. James.
Approximately 586 residents attended the fair, where they took advantage of the opportunity to obtain a free certificate for their children born between 2006 and 2010.
Through the series of 14 fairs, which got underway in Kingston on September 15 and ends on October 10, the RGD is seeking to provide 6,000 children under five years old, with the critical document.
The national initiative is being sponsored by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), which has set a target of 2015, for all children across the globe, within the age cohort, to be registered and have a birth certificate. It is estimated that more than 51 million children are unregistered.
Ms. Scott told JIS News that data from the RGD indicates that before the full introduction of the bedside registration programme in January 2007, an “alarming” number of Jamaican children would go unregistered every year.
“We have from 2006 to now, 1,000 per year… plus those persons, who have never received birth certificates before. The data for 2006 is alarming before pre-bedside registration”, she informed.
The Acting CEO said that the fairs are very important as they provide the opportunity of those children to access the vital document so that “we all can have a better Jamaica and our children can have a right to their identity”.
Icyline Johnson a parent from Granville, told JIS News that she was happy for the event, as she is now able to access birth certificate for all her children, which will enable them to be registered for school.
“I am here today to look about my children’s birth certificate so that when I am ready for them to go to school, everything will be alright. Right now, I am feeling good because I didn’t have the money to look about them and now I am able to get them done free of cost, so I am feeling good and want to say thanks to RGD,” Ms Johnson told JIS News.
The venues and dates for the nine remaining fairs are: Social Development Commission (SDC) Complex, Addison Park, Brown’s Town, St. Ann on September 26; Bethel Baptist Church, Half-Way-Tree, St. Andrew on September 28; Jamalco Sports Complex, Clarendon on September 29; Independence Park, Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland on September 30; Highgate Church of Christ, Harmony Hall, St. Mary on October 3; the Santa Cruz Community Centre, St. Elizabeth on October 4; Anglican Church Hall, St. Thomas on October 5; Falmouth Town Hall, Trelawny on October 6; Lynch Park, Buff Bay, Portland on October 7; and Central playfield, Lucea, Hanover on October 10.
All sessions are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Children, who have never been registered, and those who require late entry of name, will also be accommodated. The events will also provide the opportunity for an additional 27,257 children to obtain birth certificates.
UNICEF is providing some $8.5 million towards the initiative.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter