KINGSTON — Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, is urging parents to play a central role in their children's education, as this will be beneficial to their long term development.
"The transition that can take place when a child gets a solid education (is paramount). I know that each one of you wants better for your children. You want to know that the challenges and struggles that you face day to day, that somehow they can get away from that because they got a solid education," he said.
Mr. Gallimore was addressing parents, whose children attend the Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) in Kingston, on September 13. During his visit, he handed over a donation of $25,000 to the facility.
The State Minister told them that their children are the most valuable resources the country possesses, and they should not be limited by their (parents) financial status. He also reiterated that government assistance is available, especially through PATH.
He also commended the parents for working closely with VOUCH to ensure that the children get a solid education.
“It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you finish. The greatest difference in someone’s earning potential inevitably falls back to their level of education,” he said, lauding VOUCH for its continued contribution to the development of children residing in inner-city communities.
In the meantime, Mr. Gallimore used the occasion to urge all persons earning an income to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), in order to be able to support themselves after retirement.
“It doesn’t matter where you work, you must contribute to the NIS for you own wellbeing. Persons who are not employed in the formal business sector can make contributions on a card on a weekly basis with $50. It is one of the best facilities you have to give yourself and your family some protection,” he said.
The NIS provides many benefits, including: retirement benefit, which is the most popular; invalidity benefit, which is paid to persons who have contributed, but are unable to work as a result of illness or injury; the widow or widower’s benefit, which is paid to the spouse of a deceased contributor; an orphan’s benefit, which is provided when both parents have died, and one or both have made contributions; and a special child’s benefit, which is paid when the mother has died, and the father is unknown.
There is a maternity allowance for domestic workers, as the Maternity Leave Act omits domestic workers; employment injury benefits, which include disablement pension; death benefit and payment of a portion of medical expenses. Persons may also receive a stipend for the time that they are off the job on sick leave.
There is also the special anniversary pension, which was introduced in 1991, on the 25th anniversary of the scheme; a funeral grant that is paid upon the death of an NIS contributor or pensioner, or their spouse; and the recently introduced NIGold, which is a health insurance plan administered by Sagicor Life Jamaica, with benefits, including visits to the doctor, prescription drugs, and diagnostic services.
The visit to VOUCH also formed part of activities to mark the NIS' 45th anniversary this year. The NIS is undertaking several activities to promote the benefits of the contribution-funded social security scheme as well as the need for savings.
Founded in 1979, VOUCH is a non-governmental agency, which caters to expectant mothers and children up to six years old, through its various institutions, comprising a pre-natal clinic, nursery and pre-school, and a basic school. The entity also provides services for children with special needs.
VOUCH primarily caters to the immediate communities of Fletcher's Land and Allman Town, but also reaches families in Duhaney Park, Portmore, St. Catherine, and Yallahs in St. Thomas.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter