Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, has asked parents of children on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) to ensure that benefits from the programme are used for the purposes for which they are granted.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles
He noted that PATH, which falls under his Ministry, seeks to address the needs of the most marginalised, including the poor, elderly and disabled, through cash grants and other benefits. The programme has a special provision for students, up to the age of 18, who are required to have a school attendance record of at least 85 per cent to qualify.
Speaking at the first in a series of National Education Consultations, jointly staged with the Ministry of Education, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Tuesday, July 13, Mr. Charles said he was concerned that parents are using PATH grants, allocated for their children’s welfare, for other purposes.
He said that these parents were depriving their children of an education, by keeping them out of school and at home.
“Those mothers who take the PATH programme money and head to the beauty salon to do their fingernails and toenails; I would (urge you to desist),” Mr. Charles cautioned.
“Those (of you) who are comfortable with the child staying home, because you have to use the money for something else, you’re not going to get the money. If the teachers advise us that (for) 85 per cent of the time the child is out, the money (will not be allocated to you),” he warned.
Mr. Charles said that inappropriate use of the allocations could result in the support from agencies like the World Bank being channelled elsewhere, as the institution has “hundreds of people” elsewhere seeking similar support.
Mr. Charles also urged parents to play more active roles in their children’s educational development, and not leave it entirely to teachers.
The consultations, which are being held over five days, July 15-19, are providing a forum for stakeholder dialogue on PATH and the School Feeding Programme, he said.
The consultations are intended to: sensitise the education sector on the new dimensions of both programmes; identify programmatic and operational issues that impact the achievement of the government’s policy outcomes for social protection; and develop a National Action Plan to address issues raised by education sector stakeholders in relation to PATH and the School Feeding Programme.
Principals, guidance counsellors, and government officials, are among the stakeholders who will attend the meetings, which are slated to be held in all parishes.
“These consultations (will) provide an opportunity for us to talk and create innovative strategies and programmes to arrest the tide of truancy and delinquency that threaten to derail us in our efforts,” Mr. Charles said.
Acting Chief Education Officer, Fern McFarlane, who brought greetings on behalf of Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, endorsed the consultations.
“It is believed that the progress of a country is dependent on the provisions made to its young and its elderly population. The elderly population holds the wisdom of the years and therefore, the capability of guiding us, steering us away from unnecessary mistakes of the past. Our younger population holds the strength, the vigour, the drive, to take those wisdoms and chart courses for all of us, for a better nation,” according to message from the Minister.
“Together, they embody strength, vigour, collective wisdom and it is on this collective wisdom that we are putting our faith today, and for the remainder of the next two days, that should result in the PATH programme that we desire,” Mr. Holness said.