JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) is being lauded by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for its tremendous achievements over the past 12 years.
  • Due to the programme’s successes, the World Bank’s Board of Directors, in January of this year, approved an additional US$40 million loan to strengthen PATH and expand its reach to 500,000 beneficiaries.
  • PATH is a conditional cash transfer initiative, which delivers social assistance benefits to the most needy in the society.

The Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) is being lauded by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for its tremendous achievements over the past 12 years.

Senior Public Sector Specialist, World Bank, Kathy Lalazarian, said that due to the programme’s successes, the World Bank’s Board of Directors, in January of this year, approved an additional US$40 million loan to strengthen PATH and expand its reach to 500,000 beneficiaries.

Ms. Lalazarian was addressing a PATH Top Achievers Award ceremony, celebrating beneficiaries’ achievements in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, on July 9 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston.

PATH is a conditional cash transfer initiative, which delivers social assistance benefits to the most needy in the society. The programme is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Education and other agencies. It is funded by the IDB, the World Bank and other development partners.

As at June 2014, PATH cash transfers have been provided to approximately 370,000 registered beneficiaries.

Ms. Lalazarian said the World Bank is pleased to be partnering with PATH for more than 10 years, noting that the programme has consistently succeeded in impacting the lives of thousands of the country’s most vulnerable and has also been able to increase school attendance and improve the vaccination rate among children.

“Because of Jamaica’s PATH programme, other countries have been able to follow suit – Bahamas, Belize, Grenada and St. Lucia,” she noted.

Ms. Lalazarian said the overall objective of the World Bank is to ensure that one in five Jamaicans, including nearly two thirds of the poorest children, will benefit from PATH programmes by 2017.

She added that the institution also aims to have 1,000 young people graduating from the job readiness and skill training programme, and anticipates that 80 per cent of families enrolled in the programme will receive complementary benefits, such as entrepreneurship and skills training to help them become self-reliant.

“We have every confidence that with the continued success of PATH, these indicators will all be achieved,” she said.

In the meantime, IDB Representative, Donna Harris, said PATH is one of the principal vehicles by which the institution has continued to pursue its region-wide agenda.

“PATH remains aligned to one of our strategic priorities that seeks to increase effectiveness of social policy, increase equity and reduce poverty, and in parallel, improve productivity of our member countries,” she said.

Ms. Harris informed that over the past six years, the IDB has contributed US$145 million in loan financing to the programme. In addition, the institution has supported the research and knowledge agenda with grant financing in the sum of US$1.64 million that includes the support of the most vulnerable groups – persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Project Director, PATH, Elsa Marks-Willis, said the programme has been internationally recognised as one of the premier conditional cash transfer projects due to its achievements.

Among the successes that the Ministry has been able to record under the programme to date are: the design, development and maintenance of a state-of-the-art beneficiary management information system; and an effective benefit review mechanism to ensure the timely review of benefits in line with the rate of inflation.

“We have also been able to develop a package of benefits to our PATH families to ensure regular school attendance and consequently, improvement in educational outcomes,” she added.

Some of these benefits include: differentiated bi-monthly cash transfers to PATH beneficiary students, based on their gender and school grade; access to school meals free of charge under the Ministry of Education’s School Feeding Programme; transitional grants to assist students leaving the secondary system and who have been accepted into a post-secondary educational institution; and transportation allowances to students who are frequently non-compliant because of difficulties in meeting transportation costs to attend school regularly.