KINGSTON — Parents or guardians of children born between January 2006 and December 2010, who are without birth certificates, are being urged to take advantage of the series of birth certificate fairs to be hosted by the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) across the island.
Some 6,000 children under the age of five from poor communities are to be provided with free birth certificates through the 14 fairs, which get underway this Thursday (Sept. 15) at the East Queen Street Baptist Church, downtown Kingston.
The events, which continue until October 10, are part of the agency’s national birth certification initiative. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is partnering with the RGD on the project, providing some $8.5 million towards the initiative.
Speaking at a Think Tank held today (Sept.12) at the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Half-Way-Tree Road offices, Chief Executive Officer, RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, informed that more than 33,000 children under the age of five do not have a birth certificate.
"There is a perception by some parents that payment for a birth certificate is not a priority. Some parents think that the certificate of registration, which is issued at the time the child is registered, when the record is created that, that will suffice as a birth certificate," she stated.
She noted that having a birth certificate offers various benefits including access to an education and comprehensive health care; the ability to obtain a passport; and access to pension and other social benefits in the latter years.
UNICEF Representative in Jamaica, Robert Fuderich, commented that too many Jamaican children were growing up without birth certificates either because their births were not registered or their parents have not obtained a birth certificate.
"What this means is that too many Jamaican are losing out on one of their fundamental human rights. Without birth registration, a child has no legal identity. Without an identity or proof of existence, children cannot fully exercise their civil, political, economic and social rights. They cannot access an education, they cannot be provided health care," Mr. Fuderich said.
The venues for the other 13 birth certificate fairs are: Vision Apostolic Ministries, 38 Job Lane, St. Catherine; Mandeville Seventh Day Adventist Church, Caledonia Road, Manchester; Western Jamaica Conference Centre, Mount Salem, St. James; Social Development Commission (SDC) Complex, Addison Park, Brown's Town, St. Ann; Bethel Baptist Church, Half-Way-Tree, St. Andrew; Jamalco Sports Complex, Clarendon; Independence Park, Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland; Highgate Church of Christ, Harmony Hall, St. Mary; the Santa Cruz Community Centre, St. Elizabeth; Anglican Church Hall, St. Thomas; Falmouth Town Hall, Trelawny; Lynch Park, Buff Bay Portland; and Central play field, Lucea, Hanover.
Parents or guardians seeking to take advantage of the birth certificate fairs should take along photo identification, and evidence that the child was born between 2006 and 2010, such as the immunisation card or christening record.
Children, who have never been registered, and those who require late entry of name, will also be accommodated.
Dr. Holness said that the birth certificate fairs will provide the opportunity for an additional 27, 257 children to obtain birth certificates.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter