Rural school bus system rolls out September
The Education Ministry will be rolling out a pilot Rural School Bus Transport System in September, through a special partnership with the Ministry of Transport and Mining.
The pilot will initially target students of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Students from 91 primary and secondary schools in eight parishes will benefit from the pilot in the first phase. The parishes are St Thomas, Portland, St Mary, Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Hanover and St James.
The Ministry has committed $200 million for the first year of the pilot and continues to have dialogue with members of the diaspora and international partners towards expansion of the project.
According to Education Minister Ruel Reid, data in the Ministry has revealed that PATH students significantly contribute to the absentee rate in public educational institutions, and the project will be key to addressing that problem.
Cost for transportation
"The school bus project is one that we are very excited about and this is against the background that 20 per cent of our children generally are absent from school each day," he said. "When you look at the rural areas, particularly, the cost for transportation is extremely high, and we are very certain that it is a main contributory factor to the absenteeism."
He also said there would be an expansion of the services of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company into the Old Harbour, May Pen and Manchester areas, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Mining, and many students now will benefit from the same costs of transportation as in the Corporate Area," Reid said.
The Minister said that there will be similar capacity in the west, where Montego Bay Metro will cover parts of Trelawny, St James and Hanover.