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Jamaica: Table Over Tablets – COVID-19 Exposes Inequality In Society As Job Losses Push Families To The Brink, Says Gayle

As The Gleaner drove through Trench Town and Majesty Gardens in Kingston on Monday morning, the streets were teeming with children playing and loitering, unperturbed about lessons they are missing as classes progress online.

In an environment where parents have to make unenviable choices due to crippling financial constraints, the pangs of hunger win out in the immediate present over other needs, such as resources to keep abreast with COVID-era lessons – an expense many parents simply cannot manage.

A number of them told The Gleaner that they have had to forego purchasing school supplies, as they have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. When they had previously faced such dire challenges in the past, they could still send children off in the mornings without even a meal at times, relying on schools to feed them. That option is not available now, with classes being forced online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and their children are being left behind.

A recent Inter-American Development Bank survey revealed that nearly 60 per cent of families earning less than minimum wage reported a job loss in the household, while 25 per cent high-income families reported job loss in their households. The effects are poles apart for both groups.

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