THE EDITOR, Sir:
Since 2009, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has offered post-secondary grants through its Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) initiative. According to the ministry's website, this grant is offered to PATH beneficiaries who have qualified for and accepted placement at approved local post-secondary institutions.
By way of a telephone conversation, I was informed by an employee at one of the ministry's parish offices of how and when one should apply for the grant. If the majority of the tertiary institutions in Jamaica begin accepting applications by January and usually complete their evaluation of candidates by the latest August, why does the ministry encourage beneficiaries to apply in October? Why does it take three months or more to disburse these grants to one of society's most vulnerable groups - students?
One would think that it would be prudent to open applications and provide disbursements in a timely manner so that PATH beneficiaries can continue to obtain knowledge, gain skills, possibly change attitudes and contribute positively to national development.
How many PATH beneficiaries and their families know that they can apply for this grant to assist with CSEC examination resits, skills training, CAPE subjects, diplomas, associate degrees and undergraduate degrees? What percentage of PATH beneficiaries are aware that they can receive such grants between $15,000 and $50,000? Does the ministry have an effective public-education programme as it relates to this grant?
Jamaica has come a long way from food stamps, but providing efficient service in a professional and timely manner for needy groups in the society is one way of showing where our priorities lie as a developing nation.