JIS News

While it may be relatively easy for some Jamaicans to send their children to school and provide the means to secure a good education, for others it is a difficult task.
In its bid to rid the country of illiteracy and guarantee that each child gets at least a secondary education, the Government increased the funds to beneficiaries of the social safety net programme, the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), by 22.6 per cent in April of this year.
In response to the increase, parents are giving the Government high marks, saying that it is more than a drop in the bucket as it helps in ensuring that their children attend school regularly, which is a criterion for families benefiting under the programme.
Speaking with JIS News, PATH beneficiary, Merline White, a single mother of six explains that she finds it very hard to support her family because she is unemployed. She is pleasantly surprised with the latest increase in benefits under the programme.
“It is very good,” she says. “I am a single parent and it helps me a lot because I am unemployed.even in the last payment, I was surprised because of the amount that the Government added to what I was already getting,” she continues.
Ms. White explains that she usually sells to make a living and although the Government is helping she believes that she can do more to assist herself and her family.
“Sometimes I do a little selling.but because of sickness like high blood pressure, I can’t take the sun therefore I have to stop working,” she explains.
Ms. White who wanted to be a nurse remains optimistic about the possibility of helping herself and family in the near future. Already, she has signed up to be a part of the Steps to Work dimension of PATH.
This project, which is being supported by the World Bank, will empower beneficiaries of the PATH programme. Announced recently by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles in his Sectoral Presentation, Steps to Work will enable persons who have a desire to participate in the productive process to do so effectively. The services provided will include remedial education, entrepreneurship and business development assistance.
Meanwhile, Isolyn Baker, whose two grandchildren are also beneficiaries, is pleased with the increase. According to Ms. Baker, PATH has proven very helpful in reducing the daily expenses that accompany sending a child to school.
As a result of the increase from $530 to $650, Ms. Baker says she has been able to make the ends meet as this relates specifically to ensuring that the children are adequately fed at school on the days that are not covered by PATH’s payment to the school and also at home.
Ms. Baker tells JIS News that she is ensuring that her grandchildren attend school everyday and encourages them to take keen interest in their school work.
Giving his perspective of the benefits of PATH to his school, Principal of Porus High School in Manchester, Michael Stewart, tells JIS News that it has made a significant impact on the attendance and performance levels of those students that are beneficiaries. His only hope is that the programme will soon be able to accommodate more students from that institution.
“I believe that the programme can be expanded to accommodate more students, we don’t want any child to be deprived of a proper education. This programme is quite worthwhile and needy thus if the Government can help more students, it would be good…currently of the 1,200 students enrolled approximately 442 are PATH beneficiaries,” he informs, adding that there are others he can think of who could benefit as well.
He says that students who are on the PATH programme are given special attention to ensure that they perform well in school. Some of the activities that the school undertakes include counselling sessions and remedial classes for those who are not performing up to the school standard.
“All the students are given special attention but more so the weaker ones. These students are placed in groups and the school recently employed a reading specialist so they are able to pay individualized attention to them which has impacted in a positive way on how they are now performing academically,” he explains.
PATH is a programme funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank aimed at delivering benefits by way of cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society. The purpose of the programme is to rationalize the operations of existing income transfer programmes in order to eliminate duplication, reduce administrative costs, streamline the use of resources and increase the effectiveness of programme delivery to the poor.