A delegation from the Ministry of Social Transformation, Local Government and Community Empowerment, in St. Lucia, is currently in the island for a one-week study tour of the Programme of Advancement Though Health and Education (PATH).
The five-member team, headed by Permanent Secretary, Ms. Juliana Alfred, was welcomed on April 18 by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, at a meeting, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston.
“We are very happy and pleased to be of support, especially to our Caribbean neighbours,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Colette Roberts Risden, during her welcome address.
Mrs. Roberts Risden said Jamaica is proud to lead the Caribbean in the implementation of social protection programmes as evidenced by the number of countries that have sent delegations to observe PATH’s operations.
She encouraged the St. Lucian team to learn as much as they can from the tour, as they seek to implement a similar programme in their country.
“As you come here and study our programme, we hope that you will take some of the best [practices] and learn from our mistakes. We hope that someday we can come to St. Lucia and see what you have accomplished with your own programme,” she said.
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Maurice Smith, hailed the success of PATH and the partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, particularly because of its emphasis on education.
“The PATH programme is one of those initiatives of which we are particularly proud, because it tangibly expresses the significance we put on education, as it is perhaps the only medium through which poverty can be challenged in a meaningful and legitimate way,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary noted that because of the programme, beneficiaries are twice as likely to complete high school, refrain from maladaptive behaviour and access tertiary education.
In the meantime, Ms. Alfred thanked the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for receiving her team and for assisting other countries in the region with their social protection programmes.
“You have opened your arms to welcome us from the region and that says you have gone through this process and you are willing to share your experiences and you are willing for us to learn from you, and as a region we are better for it,” she said.
Ms. Alfred added that her team is eager to learn from the week of activities, as St. Lucia embarks on its own journey of social protection transformation.
The week of activities will include presentations on the policy framework for social protection in Jamaica; compliance structure of the programme; case management and parenting intervention strategies; and social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities programme.
There will also be tours of the office for the Electronic Labour Market Exchange Programme, Abilities Foundation and the Clarendon Parish Office. The group will also meet with Steps to Work clients and observe the business development training of beneficiaries as well as visit the Thompson Town High School in Clarendon, to observe its school feeding programme.
PATH is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank, and is aimed at delivering benefits by way of cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society. Over 380,000 persons benefit from the programme.
Source: Jamaica Information Service