The Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) is a conditional cash transfer intervention administered through Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security. In September 2012, it launched its “Stay in School” campaign. The campaign addressed the issue of absenteeism among students participating in PATH.
Background information on the campaign suggested that it had two main aims: ensuring that all children registered with PATH were enrolled in school at the start of the school year 2012/2013, and ensuring that male secondary school students registered with PATH attended school. However, this targeting of male students, in particular, is not obvious from a glance at the campaign materials, as at no time during the message delivery do we hear the campaign spokespersons making an appeal to male students.
The campaign uses docudrama and video messages, some of which have been aired on national television in Jamaica during the 2012/2013 school year.There are eight video messages involving well-known Jamaicans in entertainment, government and sports such as Khadine “Miss Kitty” Hylton.
Other personalities appearing in the campaign included:
- Romaine Virgo
- Tarrus Riley
- Damion Crawford
- Cherine Anderson
- Hansle Parchment
- Patria-Kaye Aarons
- Patrick ‘Tony Rebel’ Barrett
These spokespersons encourage students to stay in school,ending with the campaign tagline- expressed in the Jamaican vernacular ”school wi seh”. This is literally translated as “school we say”, indicating a statement of support for a cause, as in “we speak in support of staying in school”.
The testimonials given in each of the videos were credible as the messengers shared personal experiences when they spoke about how their staying in school helped them to achieve their particular career goals. Using testimonials in a campaign can produce undesired results, especially when the individual giving the testimony later engages in a behaviour that contradicts the intentions of the original message.
However, the campaign planners for the “School We Seh” intervention should have no fears as the personalities have all completed their schooling and are currently pursing reputable careers. Now that the campaign’s year of implementation (2012/2013) has ended, it would be good to see the evaluation results to assess the effectiveness of this testimonial approach. Did the PATH students, especially the males, attend school regularly during 2012/2013?