With an additional $50 from government, the Uniform Assistance Programme will be extended to provide aid to not just the needy students of the Primary and Secondary schools but the Pre-Primary students as well.
Government is asking stakeholders including the Ministry of Social Development and the schools themselves to help in identifying the needy students in order to get the vouchers distributed in a timely manner.
According to Senior Administrative Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Naomi Jeremiah, the programme began in May and will end in July before the closure of schools.
Speaking to the media at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing held last Wednesday at the Ministerial Complex, Jeremiah said it is important for this to be done so that parents can receive the assistance early for their children to return to school in September.
“We want to ensure that the families that cannot assist their children to go to school – this programme will assist them with uniform items. We are looking at items like shirts and skirts and vests, pants, school bags, school belts, school shirts and minimal stationery items. So, the actual vouchers should be given out before school closes for this term,” she explained.
Jeremiah told reporters that the programme provides for a maximum of $450 dollars to be given to each household and that $50 will be the amount given to every Pre-Primary School student.
“We are looking at $50 (for) the Pre-primary, Primary will be given $100 and each secondary School child will be given $150. Per household (it) will be a total of $450 worth of vouchers (for those) who qualify under the ambits of that programme. It is the hope that the school principal and teachers from the various schools around the island work along with them to identify the needy and the vulnerable students in the various schools, so that we can have a listing and that the vouchers can be given to the most needy and the most vulnerable students in the various schools,” she said.
Government member, Senator Winston Garraway who also attended the press conference pointed out that the reason for the early distribution of vouchers is to allow for proper budgeting from parents.
“You have $450 as a maximum within a household or it could be $350 if there are no secondary school students in that home…giving you the vouchers early in July, you can now go, get those supplies, so you would be able to make your financial decisions as it relates to the other items that you would have to purchase.
“So, we want you to be able to budget properly – that is the reason we want to ensure that we distribute those vouchers early. We are asking parents as we’ve done in the past, to utilise the vouchers for its intended purpose…”.
Speculation is rife that this early distribution of vouchers to parents for the school assistance programme will be the last to take place before the upcoming general elections.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has indicated that the poll would be held “very soon”.
Goverment has indicated that all vouchers should be cashed in on or before 30th of September 2017 as after that date it would not be valid.