The Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) is to embark on a Back-to-School campaign, dubbed ‘School Wi Seh’, for the 2012/13 academic year, beginning the first week in September.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on August 22,Project Director for PATH, Dunstan Bryan, informed that the 12-month campaign involves two elements – ensuring that all children registered under the programme, are enrolled in school come September 2012; and focusing on non-compliance, as it relates to males, in grades nine and above.
"We find that this is where we have our highest non-compliance rate of children in school. We are seeing an increased amount of school drop-outs for this particular group of beneficiaries, and we aim to address this growing issue, with the roll out of the campaign,” he explained.
Mr. Bryan further informed that the campaign is geared towards educating PATH household members, and by extension the wider society, of the importance of attending school, and acquiring an education, to elevate one's self out of poverty.
He said that with the new school year approaching, parents are being advised to visit the various parish offices to inform the Ministry of the school each child registered under the programme will be attending, so that benefits can be disbursed accordingly.
"This information is crucial, because if parents do not advise us of the school the child will be enrolled in, then we will be unable to monitor each child effectively, which impacts on their benefit payment," Mr. Bryan said.
He emphasised that the payment of benefits is linked to the compliance information, which is normally communicated to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in relation to each beneficiary.
Mr. Bryan said it is the responsibility of the household, to ensure that each child attends school at least 85 per cent of the academic year, which is a fundamental right.
"So, if the child is absent for three days out of each week, they are only paid a base benefit of $400, which cannot do much,” the Project Director argued.
He added that once beneficiaries meet the compliance requirement, and attend school regularly, they will receive their full benefits, depending on the age and gender of the child.
Mr. Bryan told JIS News that PATH is trying to deal with the issues that are preventing students at all levels from attending school, and from excelling in the academic areas.
The campaign, which is set to conclude in August 2013, is one strategy aimed at addressing some of the issues, as well as promoting the importance of attending school, at both the primary and secondary levels.