Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
NORTH CENTRAL Clarendon Member of Parliament Pearnel Charles, immediately after handing out some $3 million to 89 students in his constituency, urged the Government to review the benefits under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Charles, who was the labour and social security minister in the last Jamaica Labour Party administration, said it is grossly inadequate to give a child $53 per day for school.
"I am calling on Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites and the Government to immediately step up the PATH daily education subventions from its meagre $53 per day to at least a $100," said Charles during the North Central Clarendon scholarship programme presentation ceremony, held at Summerfield's Community Centre, last Thursday.
He added: "If this Government is serious about education, they again must desist from the practice of catering for a child on the PATH programme for only three days per week for that child to go to school.
"What kind a lunch can $53 buy a child, or can that child learn by going to school just three days per week? If we are really looking for education to be the way forward, we must make the sacrifices as a nation, even if we have to take pay cut to do it," said Charles.
Meanwhile, Charles wants the Government to put in place a rural transportation system for children.
"A child in Kingston pays just $40 to go to school, while in the rural areas, in my constituency, it is up to $500. The buses that the kids ride in Kingston are subsidised by all of us, rural and urban taxpayers, so why the big disparities?" Charles asked.
"I am, therefore, calling on the Government to allocate some of the buses from the urban centre to the rural areas. We in the rural areas will double the fare from $40 to $80, and also MPs in the rural areas will contribute to the maintenance of the buses, which are sometimes running empty in Kingston," he promised.