The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is appealing to parents to get their children registered so they can benefit from vital services and also provide data to assist the national planning process.
Acting chief executive officer of the RGD, Yvette Scott, noted that not only is birth registration important in giving people an identity and providing proof of existence, but it is also key in assisting the Government to plan for development and provide essential services to meet the needs of the population. "The planners need it to ensure that, for example, a basic school is placed in the best location. So, if we have say, 40,000 children in Jamaica and they are not registered, the minister of ducation will not know how to plan for basic schools and so on, so it's very important to have the registration so we can have the necessary information," she pointed out. "It is also important for persons to access social services, because if you are registered and you walk into a school and you don't have that birth certificate there is no way that you can show proof of your identity," Ms. Scott added. She was speaking last Wednesday at the fourth in the series of islandwide registration fairs, held at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in Mount Salem, St. James. Approximately 586 residents attended the fair, where they took advantage of the opportunity to obtain a free certificate for their children who born between 2006 and 2010. Through the series of 14 fairs, which got underway in Kingston on September 15 and ends on October 10, the RGD is seeking to provide 6,000 children under five years of age, with the critical document. The national initiative is being sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund, which has set a target of 2015, for all children across the globe, within the age cohort, to be registered and have a birth certificate. It is estimated that more than 51 million children are unregistered. Ms. Scott told JIS News that data from the RGD indicate that before the full introduction of the bedside registration programme in January 2007, an alarming number of Jamaican children would go unregistered every year. "We have from 2006 to now, 1,000 per year plus those persons, who have never received birth certificates before. The data for 2006 are alarming before pre-bedside registration", she informed. The Acting CEO said the fairs are very important as they provide the opportunity of those children to access the vital document so "we all can have a better Jamaica and our children can have a right to their identity".