JIS News

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is appealing to parents, especially in Westmoreland, to improve their level of compliance with the PATH Programme.
Just before the start of the new school year, the PATH Unit in the Ministry hosted a ‘Back-to-School Jamboree’ in Westmoreland, the parish which currently records the lowest compliance rate among beneficiaries.
The event was held at the New Hope Primary and Junior High School and took the form of open-air group discussions, which dealt with issues such as reducing the rate of truancy among students, the importance of education in breaking the poverty cycle, as well as generating enthusiasm among students and parents.
Speaking with JIS News, Assistant Project Director of PATH, Marcia Bolt lauded the event as “very successful”, as it attracted a number of beneficiaries as well as their parents.
“The programme requires that each student attend school at least 85 per cent of the time and that particular school [New Hope Primary] has the lowest attendance.with non-compliance levels as high as 43 per cent,” Miss Bolt said.
“One of the problems,” she noted, “is that children who don’t attend school tend to be children of parents who do not attend Parent Teachers Association meetings and it is difficult to get them into any kind of formal setting, so we decided to do something attractive.and get the attention of the community in order to get the message across. We are hoping that things will now change.”
Westmoreland, she informed, currently has 6,300 students on the PATH programme. She further noted that children from birth to age 17 usually make up 70 per cent of the total number of beneficiaries on a parish basis as well as on the national level.
She noted that prior to the Jamboree, the Westmoreland branch of the Ministry encouraged beneficiaries to comply with the requirements of the programme by using various communication methods.
Notwithstanding the use of these strategies, she revealed that the compliance level has remained way below the acceptable standards of the Programme. In a bid to further boost the compliance rate on a national scale, the Assistant Director also revealed that the PATH Unit would be embarking on an islandwide campaign in early 2006.
The programme currently has 240,000 beneficiaries, a figure that consistently changes depending on a number of factors, such as the number of lactating or pregnant beneficiaries, and the number of children approaching the age of 17 who would be removed from the list after their conditions have changed.

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