JIS News

A new island wide thrust, aimed at signing up some 236,000 new beneficiaries under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), was launched on Thursday (Aug. 11) by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
State Minister in the Ministry, Senator Floyd Morris, in his remarks at the launch held at the St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church in May Pen, said that the aim was to register new beneficiaries, as well as re-establish connections with those, who for one reason or another, were no longer with the programme but still needed assistance.
He said that PATH, which was instituted by government in 2002 as a safety net for poor families, was enjoying much success, with $1.2 billion allocated to the initiative this fiscal year.
“Since PATH was implemented, there has been a marked improvement in the attendance of children (at school). Currently, figures point to between 88 to 91 per cent attendance in schools and we have also seen a high level of reduction of individuals, who are not deserving of the benefits of the programme,” Senator Morris informed.
The delivery of service to the poor and the vulnerable has also improved significantly, he added.
PATH rules stipulate that beneficiaries must attend school on a proven and consistent basis. Failure to do so, or non-compliance to a level of 85 per cent, will result in beneficiaries being suspended from the programme. “We have outlined it in documents, in brochures and at seminars and each time we have stipulated clearly, exactly what is required for them to do,” Senator Morris indicated.
“While the state is providing the benefits to the citizens, they too have an obligation to fulfill or else we are going to be very stringent in ensuring that non-compliance will result in a suspension from the programme,” he warned.
The State Minister noted however, that beneficiaries removed from the programme were eligible for a second chance, as long as they committed to conforming to the rules. “Absolutely, there is a second chance given. However, they have to make sure that the students are going to school on a consistent basis and that children attend the clinics to receive the required necessary check-ups,” he said.
Senator Morris stressed that if there were circumstances preventing regular school attendance, a letter must be taken to the school outlining the difficulty, whether it is lunch money, illness or other, and the school would try to help. “This also goes for persons challenged with a disability as provisions are made for them and as long notification is made, the Ministry will take the necessary step to ensure they are not excluded,” he assured.
Senator Morris added that the aim of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security was bring non-compliance down to at least five per cent and had closely collaborated with relevant ministries and agencies, to achieve that target.