JIS News

The Clarendon Office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) is advising parents who benefit under the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) to ensure that their children’s names are listed on the PATH beneficiary records at their school.Parish Manager for the MLSS, Glendon Palmer told JIS News today August 30 that this would ensure access to all benefits allowed within the school system.
“We have found that there are instances where the child’s name is not on the PATH beneficiary list at the school and so the exemption from school fees is not available to them,” he explained.
Mr. Palmer added that, “as the new school year is to commence this September, we are imploring the parents to make certain that the school has a record of the name and if parents are having any difficulties with any of these matters, they can contact the MLSS Office at 986-2472 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays and 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays”.
He pointed out that through PATH, students also had free access to textbooks that were normally available under the government textbook rental scheme, an additional package to the school fee exemption. The parish manager emphasized that if the names were not listed, children would be denied access.
He also advised that beneficiaries should ensure that they complied with all the conditions of the programme in order to continue receiving benefits.
“Children must register and attend school and maintain a minimum school attendance record of 85 per cent per month, in other words, they should not be absent for more than three school days in any regular school month,” he said.
Commenting on the progress of PATH, Mr. Palmer said the programme has been successful in the parish.
“The programme is doing extremely well in Clarendon. We have seen where it has benefitted a number of families and based on the objectives of the programme to increase the educational attainment and improve health outcomes and thus reduce poverty, we have seen where there are significant improvements in these areas especially concerning the attendance of children in school as the school records are reflecting this,” he said.
Mr. Palmer also told JIS News that 10,180 families in Clarendon were now benefiting through PATH, up from 9,530 families in February of this year.
“The numbers of families have been increasing over the months and we are paying out a little over J$16.2 million for the July to August payment,” he said.
Families are targeted for the programme through the efforts of six social workers attached to the Clarendon Office. In addition, sometimes representatives of families come in to the office to register. The families are required to complete a targeting form, after which they are assessed and selected for the programme if they attain a score of 1,035 or below.According to Mr. Palmer at the inception of PATH in Clarendon in February 2003, some 8,300 families received benefits. The programme aims to assist approximately 236,000 persons islandwide.
Benefits are paid out under two categories of grants. These include the education grant which assists children between six and 17 years of age, who are also exempt from paying school fees, and the health grant which covers children between zero and six years of age, those over 60 years of age, other destitute persons between 18 and 60 years, the disabled, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
Each individual in the family receives up to $800 every two months under either of the grants. PATH is an amalgamation of benefits previously administered individually under the Old Age and Incapacity Programme, the Food Stamp Programme, and the Outdoor Poor Relief Programme.