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Ministry allocates $20m to Poor Relief for back-to-school assistance

The Poor Relief Department will disburse $20 million in back-to-school assistance to students registered under its programme for the upcoming 2023/2024 academic year, which begins in September.

“We have a very vibrant education programme in poor relief,” said Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Community Development.

The Minister made the announcement at the recent official opening ceremony for the Ocho Rios Night Shelter in St Ann.

He also highlighted that the Government is determined to provide a sustained educational programme within the poor relief framework, and that there was an urgent need for increased assistance following discussions with the Board of Supervision.

The Board of Supervision operates under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and was established to supervise and monitor the delivery of poor relief services through the Municipal Corporations.

To date, over 3500 students islandwide are registered under the Poor Relief Department.

Minister McKenzie stated that education is pivotal to success for persons reliant on poor relief support. and noted that there have been several success stories relating to poor-relief beneficiaries who have excelled academically.

He also shared the story of a young man from the constituency of Kingston Western who achieved his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

“This young man went to Wolmer’s and ended up with about 16 distinctions and he said he wanted to become a doctor. He has graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Drexel University, [and] he came out of poor relief.”

The Minister also disclosed that more than $150m has been allocated to councillors for back-to-school support, in a bid to ensure that needy students in their parochial divisions are provided with the require resources for the new school year.