He is a national scholarship winner with eyes set on a career in actuarial sciences. At his high school prize giving last November he cleaned up five trophies for the top awards in modern languages, debating, citizenship and academics. His parents, Yvonne and Dicky Baker are as proud as peacocks as they contemplate the current path of their exemplary son.
This narrative could have been quite different for 18 year old Chevano Baker, born to parents of humble means in the deep rural district of Clones in the hilltop parish of Manchester on the island of Jamaica. Manchester High School, to which he won a place through the Grade Six Achievement test, is located in the parish capital of Mandeville, separated from his village by 15 miles of mainly poor roads underserved by public transportation. Just the cost of getting there on a daily basis would put a strain on the family budget, let alone books, uniforms, and basic meals.
This gap in Chevano’s dream has been filled by a World Bank-funded Government of Jamaica program called PATH. A conditional cash transfer safety net scheme, the Programme of Advancement through Health & Education links state support to the poorest families to desirable health and knowledge seeking behaviors.
In Chevano’s words, “PATH has enabled my family and countless others to remain healthy and take advantage of educational opportunities through the payment of a monthly cash benefit. Some of the support is in kind too, like access to lunches at the canteen and to free book loans.”
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