KINGSTON — Over $3 billion were disbursed to beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), during the 2010/11 fiscal year, Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon Andrew Gallimore, has disclosed
He said that the figure represents an 18 per cent increase over the amount disbursed in 2009/10.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day Social Workers’ Training Case Management Conference, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Thursday (May 19), Mr. Gallimore attributed the increase to the increases in benefits instituted in June 2010. He said this resulted in the base benefit being raised to $400 per month.
The State Minister also pointed out that some 1,520 grants, totaling approximately $22.8 million, have been disbursed to student beneficiaries pursuing tertiary education, since 2009. Of this number, he said that 828 grants, amounting to approximately $12.4 million, have been disbursed so far this year.
Pointing to the significant increase in the number of persons benefitting under PATH since its inception in 2002, Mr. Gallimore argued that the programme has grown to become the administration’s “flagship programme” for the eradication of poverty.
“PATH has increased its capacity from 236,000 poor Jamaicans, when it started in 2002, to now having more than 370,000 beneficiaries,” he said, adding that children account for 70 per cent of the figure.
Mr. Gallimore said that, since 2009, several incentives directed mainly at children have been incorporated into the programme. He noted that while adult beneficiaries primarily receive a flat monthly sum, children attending secondary schools are paid on a differentiated payment scheme, to ensure that they complete their secondary education.
He also noted that, as part of the exit strategy and through a loan from the World Bank, there is a grant of $15,000 given to children leaving secondary school and going into post-graduate studies.
Mr. Gallimore said that having surpassed the 360,000 persons targetted for benefits, the Ministry has shifted the focus of PATH from expansion to improving service delivery, and making sure that the operations are significantly improved. He said that 16 operational standards were introduced in April 2010, generating two monitoring reports so far.
“It is expected that these changes in standards, and these reporting mechanisms, will enhance the end result of the level of service to our beneficiaries,” he assured.
The conference, which is being held over two days, forms part of efforts by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to strengthen its institutional capacity. It is intended to provide a forum through which dialogue and, by extension, the strategy for case management can be augmented for the social workers.
Some 125 social representatives and stakeholders from ministries, departments, agencies and non-governmental organisations, who engage in the delivery of social services, are participating in the conference which ends Friday (May 20).
It is expected that the conference will result in improvements in the social workers’ skills in case management, as well as sensitise them on self-care techniques in order to enhance service delivery.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter