Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, says that the excellent record of students who are being supported by the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), shows that the programme is reaching the most vulnerable groups in the society.
Mr. Charles said that since February, 2010 the total number of registered student beneficiaries stood at 201,414, compared to 175,000 for the same period last year, and that over the last two years, the Government has invested in the educational needs of 320,000 students, at a cost of approximately $350 million, resulting in increased school attendance and improvement in the immunization rates.
“If there was any doubt about the elements or ingredients to being a successful student, our PATH Achievers from over 20 schools across the island.despite their humble circumstances, have applied themselves and achieved their goals, and today we take time to salute and congratulate them,” the Minister said.
He was giving the main address at the 2010 Top Achievers Awards for students who have benefited from PATH, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, Tuesday (April 13).
Approximately 30 students received cash awards of between $8,000 and $20,000, trophies and plaques, to celebrate very outstanding performances in both the GSAT and CSEC examinations. Awards were presented for both 2008 and 2009.
Top Achievers for 2009, were Velrita Brown (Girl), Montego Bay High School and Ken O’Connor (Boy) Ferncourt High, St. Ann. Top Scholars for 2009 were Sashelle Riley (Girl), Montego Bay High and Rammon Green (Boy), Tichfield High, Portland.
For 2008, Top Achievers were Shashane Wallace (Girl), Manchester High School and Burchell Gordon (Boy), Ardenne High, Kingston, while Top Scholars were Monique Grayson (Girl), Montego Bay High and Krishna Barrett (Boy), Cornwall College, St. James.
Top GSAT Girl for 2009 was Whitney Baker of Siloah Primary, St. Elizabeth and Top Boy, Raju Gunnings of Unity Primary, Westmoreland. For GSAT 2008, Top Girl was Sho-Ann Waul of Mannings Hill Primary, St. Andrew, and Top Boy, Rockkeino Salmon of Rousseau Primary in Kingston. Most students scored 2- twos and 7-ones in their examinations, but a large number scored 8-ones and 1-two.
Top Achiever prizes went to students who, in the estimation of the judging panel and based on nominations from the schools, best exemplify scholastic excellence, high levels of school involvement, involvement in sport or extra-curricular activities and high standards of behaviour and deportment. There were a total of 12 GSAT awardees, comprising students who had attained 90 plus averages in the examination and are now attending high schools, from which the Top Boy and Top Girl were chosen.
Aabuthnott Gallimore High School, St. Ann, where more than half of the school population is on PATH, was chosen Top School of 2009 and the Mile Gully Health Centre, Manchester, top Health Centre for the year. For 2008, St. George’s Girls and Infant School in downtown Kingston, where 70 of the 200 students are on PATH, and Great Valley Health Centre, Hanover, were chosen Top School and Top Health Centre, respectively.
Mr. Charles congratulated, the teachers, parents and guardians for providing the necessary support for the success of these students. He said that Jamaica owes the teachers a great debt, for preparing the students for the examinations, sometimes under very trying circumstances.
“We know that our teachers continue to make sacrifices, and so they must take a bow with the achievement of our children,” he said.
He noted that PATH has received $1.4 billion in the 2010/11 Budget, “to provide better and more cost-effective social assistance to the poor and vulnerable in the society.” He said that his Ministry will continue to strengthen its partnership with the beneficiaries.
“We are committed to playing a bigger role in helping our beneficiaries, especially our children to see the programme as an opportunity towards a better life,” he said.
The programme was chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Mr. Alvin McIntosh.
Other speakers included Director of Social Security at the Ministry, Colette Roberts Risden and Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ),
Dr. Pauline Knight. The Tivoli Gardens Dance Troupe performed and PATH Social Marketing Manager, Grace Scarlett, moved the Vote of Thanks.