Jamaica Pumps More Money Into Student Program

Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, while speaking in the 2019/20 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives recently, announced that the government will increase allocation to the Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

The Minister noted that the new move will expand support for students at various levels of the education system.

He said that an additional $347 million have been provided to the School Feeding Program for children at the early childhood level.

He argued that the total allocation to the School Feeding Program will be $5.1 Billion which represent a seven percent increase over last year.

Additionally, he noted that $200 million have been provided to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information under the Examination Fees Assistance Program to support payment for four additional subjects for PATH secondary level students sitting exit Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

This represents a 50 percent increase from $400 million to $600 million.

A sum of $380 million has also been provided to the Ministry to support the provision of transportation grants to schools.

Dr. Clarke noted that the objective is to significantly reduce the transportation costs for 7,500 students, who are registered beneficiaries of PATH and are attending 94 public schools across Jamaica.

“This increases the allocation for PATH transportation by $180 million or 90 percent from $200 million in financial year 2017/18 to $380 million in financial year 2019/20,” he said.

A sum of $562 million is included in the budget to support retention of the PATH back-to-school grant, which was first introduced in August 2018.

“The benefit will be institutionalized under PATH and payments made once per year in August at the start of the new school year,” Dr. Clarke explained.

He said that the additional budgetary allocations, along with an average 16.4 percent increase in PATH cash grants with effect from June 2019, “represent protection of the vulnerable in action.”

Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan                                                                       

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