KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) is said to have benefitted the lives of over 400,000 Jamaicans since its inception in 2002. This according to the Director of Social Security at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Denzil Thorpe.
A conditional cash transfer programme, funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), PATH provides assistance to the most needy, by way of cash grants.
Thorpe, said in a recent interview that PATH offers an array of benefits to children from birth to completion of secondary school; senior citizens 60 years and over, who are not in receipt of a pension; persons with disabilities; pregnant and lactating women; and poor adults, between the ages of 18 to 59 years, who are duly registered.
To qualify for the programme, an applicant must satisfy the eligibility criteria, by verifying that he/she is a member of a needy family. This is done through the application of a proxy means test. The applicant is interviewed, and an application is completed with the help of a representative from the Ministry,” he said.
To fully complete the application process, applicants are asked to provide personal data pertaining to his/her family, including levels of education attained, as well as the family’s access to basic social amenities.
“On the basis of the information submitted, and the application of the electronic Beneficiary Identification System (BIS), families, who meet the established criteria are selected. Information provided at the interview is later verified by a home visit, after which qualified applicants are registered to begin receiving payments,” he said.
Thorpe informed that bi-monthly payments are made to compliant beneficiaries by one of two modes, either by a cheque or by cash card. Cheque payments are made through the island-wide network of post offices and postal agencies.
Between December 2002 and August 2008, the value of the PATH grants was standardised for all categories of beneficiaries, however, in December 2008, a system of differentiated benefits was introduced for children receiving education grants, to encourage school attendance and school retention at the secondary level. These benefits were revised on August 15, 2013.
He explained that boys in grades one to six receive $950.00 per month, while girls in the same category receive $865.00. Boys in grades seven to nine receive
$1,240.00, while girls receive $1,125.00. Boys in grades 10 to 13 receive $1,455.00, and girls receive $1,325.00.
“Our aim is to promote education at the highest level among all categories of beneficiaries, in particular boys, who our studies have shown are more likely to drop out of school than girls. In essence, the benefits that boys at the primary and secondary levels receive, are a little higher than what the girls receive, in an effort to increase their compliance rate for school attendance. With this initiative, we encourage them to attend school on a regular basis, so that they receive the full benefit.” Thorpe pointed out.
He says that the payment of benefits is linked to the compliance information, which is periodically communicated by the schools, to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in relation to each PATH student.
“So, if the child is absent for more than three days out of each month, they are only paid a base benefit of $400, which is far less than the full benefit,” he said. The base benefit is paid to non-compliant beneficiaries on a monthly basis, instead of no benefit at all. The full benefit is only disbursed if the required compliance conditionality is achieved,” the PATH head said.