Principals take wrong PATH - Reduced payments to beneficiaries caused by some school administrators
A miscalculation by some school administrators could be the cause of the reduced payments collected by some beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) this month.
Under the rules, students have to attend classes for at least 85 per cent of the sessions during a period to qualify for the full path benefits.
But Sunday Gleaner sources say it appears that the administrators at some schools did not adjust their registers for the days when schools were closed to facilitate activities related to the general election which was held in February.
Several schools closed their gates on Nomination Day, February 9 and Election Day, February 25, with some not holding classes on the day after Jamaicans voted, these breaks should be taken into account by the school administrators when submitting their register of the number of days students should have attended school for the period.
"I suspect that this is something the people in the PATH office will check, but it appears that an unusual number of beneficiaries did not get their full payments because their children failed to meet the 85 per cent benchmark this period," a source at the Ministry of Labour & Social Security told The Sunday Gleaner.
"It will be investigated but it does not appear that it was the Government which fouled up this time but the school administrators," added the source, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the ministry.
He said it would be for the officials of the PATH programme and the leadership of the ministry to determine what adjustments, if any, will be made if the investigation proves his theory.
Under the PATH programme, students who missed four of the 20 school days in January would be deemed noncompliant while despite the midterm break around Ash Wednesday on February 10 would reduce the number of school days in February would reduce the 20 available school days meaning that the three election related no class days could make a student noncompliant.
PATH does not mix the months so students would have to meet the 85 per cent threshold in each month for the family to get the full benefit.
Last week, our newsroom was flooded with calls from persons who claimed that the Government has slashed the amount disbursed under the PATH programme which is designed to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in the society.
This prompted calls from the opposition People's National Party (PNP) for urgent clarification of the matter.
Among the groups demanding answers was the PNP's Women's Movement with its president, Jennifer Edwards charging that it would be devastating if the reports in the cut in benefits was true.
"Governments are elected to uplift all the people and not to decimate any one group, especially those most in need, and so any reduction in these benefits without matching support in some other form, will severely erode the survivability of the poor, remove the safety net designed to assist their children to achieve full potential and seriously threaten the health and well being of senior citizens," charged Edwards.
But the social security ministry was quick to respond denying that the benefits had been reduced.
"Beneficiaries are being reminded that children attending primary and secondary schools are required to maintain an 85 per cent attendance record in order to receive the full payment of their benefits," said the ministry in a statement released last Thursday.
"The April 15th payment (was) based on school attendance during the months of January and February," added the ministry as it urged beneficiaries with queries to contact one of its parish offices.