JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says Jamaica has universal enrolment of children in school up to age 16.
This is according to the 2015 Survey of Living Conditions, which measures the living standards of Jamaicans.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday (October 4), Senator Reid said the findings also show improved enrolment among older age groups.
In 2006, enrolment among the 17 to 18 age group was 45.9 per cent, moving to 50 per cent in 2015.
Enrolment in the 19 to 24 age group increased from 5.5 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2015.
The Minister said “money problems” was cited as the main reason for absence from school from the early-childhood through to secondary levels. He said the survey reported that of the respondents, some 42.2 per cent indicated financial constraints as a problem.
Overall, the average absenteeism from schools nationally is about 20 per cent.
Turning to other findings, Senator Reid said the survey reported that just about one quarter or 25.1 per cent of the sample reported having at least one non-communicable disease (NCD), noting that hypertension remained the most common condition.
“In respect of access to healthcare services, some 48.7 per cent utilise public facilities while 46.2 per cent exclusively utilise private facilities,” he indicated.
As it relates to housing, Senator Reid said the survey reported that 72.7 per cent of the population enjoyed acceptable housing conditions in respect of outer walls, kitchen and toilet facilities, electricity, water, and physical space.
“However, rural communities lag behind urban centres in several indicators of housing quality, resulting in a housing quality index of 67.3 per cent in rural areas as against 78.5 per cent in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and other towns,” Minister Reid pointed out.
He said according to the report, poverty rates marginally increased to 21.6 per cent from 20 per cent in 2014.
“Households were consuming a larger amount of goods and services; however, there was an increase in inequality over the period,” he added.
Mr. Reid said the report noted that the population was ageing, that declining household size was changing household structure and there was also an increase in single-person households.
“There’s a convergence of fewer children per household and an increasing number of persons living alone,” he said.
Senator Reid informed that Cabinet has taken note of the need for policy review and programme implementation regarding the findings of the survey.
The Survey of Living Conditions is a joint publication of the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).