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Jamaica: Gov’t allocates $329M to purchase digital devices for needy students

The Government has announced that it is making $329 million available to purchase digital devices for needy students under the recently launched $60 billion SERVE Jamaica Programme.

Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke made the announcement Wednesday in a statement in the House of Representatives.

Under the initiative which has been dubbed the ‘SERVE Jamaica Digital Programme, eligible students will be identified by Members of Parliament and councillors, “as students in need who have not benefited from other Government laptop/digital device programmes,” Clarke said.

His announcement comes nearly one year since the parliamentary Opposition first called on the government to waive the duties and taxes on digital devices to enable poorer students to continue their education online.

That call was echoed by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association which has reported that up to 200,000 students are still without an electronic device that would allow them to connect online, more than one year after schools were shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several influential private sector groups also urged the Administration to waive the duties but were largely ignored.

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