• JIS News

    Beneficiaries of the government’s Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), will receive a 32.5 per cent increase in their benefits, effective February 2006.
    Each beneficiary in a household will now be receiving $530, up from the current $400.
    This was revealed by Director of the PATH programme, Trevor Smith, in an interview with JIS News on February 16.
    Mr. Smith and a delegation from Kenya and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) were on a tour of the New Hope Primary and Junior High School in Whitehouse, Westmoreland, to carry out a review and assessment of the performance of the PATH programme in that institution.
    The institution was chosen for the assessment, because of the positive turnaround in the level of compliance among beneficiaries over a six month period, from 40 per cent non-compliance in August 2005 to 15 per cent at present.
    Representatives from the Path programme have been visiting the school and holding sessions with parents, teachers and students with a view to better informing them about the requirements for accessing assistance through the programme and how to maintain their compliance with the requirements.
    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 persons in the society. The programme is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and replaces three major social assistance programmes – Food Stamp, Public Assistance and Outdoor Poor Relief.
    All beneficiaries must adhere to certain conditions and therefore, school aged children between six and 17 years are required to maintain an 85 per cent attendance record in school. Other categories of beneficiaries, including the elderly, poor adults, and pregnant women and persons with disabilities are required to maintain a schedule of visits to health centres.
    In making a connection between the success of the implementation of the PATH programme and improvements in school attendance across the island, Mr. Smith pointed out that the 2004 survey of living conditions showed that on any given day, 92 per cent of children were now attending school, and the PATH programme has been credited for this high percentage of school attendance.
    “So this has been a positive for us. It has impacted the attendance in school. It has also impacted, from the research, the performance of the children in school.
    We are seeing better academic performance among our children. We have also, from a national perspective, impacted the poverty index,” he added.
    Acknowledging that there were still a few shortcomings in the implementation of the programme, Mr. Smith said that PATH had met most of the set targets and expectations. He pointed out that the main problem being experienced in the implementation of the programme was non-compliance among health beneficiaries.
    Principal of the New Hope Primary and Junior High School, Franklyn Beckford, told JIS News that the PATH programme has been very helpful in maintaining attendance at the institution. Pointing out that there were over 230 students at the school benefiting from the programme, he said that of that amount, over 90 per cent of them were showing a very good attendance record.
    He also noted that research within the school has shown that the improved attendance at school by students on the PATH programme has resulted in improved grades among those students.
    Programme Officer with UNICEF for Orphan and Vulnerable Children in Kenya, Carlos Alviar, who is a member of the Kenyan delegation assessing the PATH programme in Jamaica, told JIS News that from what the visiting team had seen over the last week in Jamaica, the PATH programme seemed to be working very well, and there were aspects of it which would be considered for duplication in Kenya to assist orphans and vulnerable children in that country.