When people say the economy in Jamaica is improving, at least by the standards set by the IMF, I tend to ponder this in the context of the headlines. (I know you cannot conflate on-paper, economic measurements with conditions on the ground, but I always think the contrasting contexts are interesting.)
Specifically, I like to measure in terms of being a young person, whose parents pay taxes, trying to get an education. It is not an easy time to be a student in Jamaica.
Drought may force students to bring their own water to flush toilets and to perform basic hygienic activities. In other words, students can’t even go to school and expect to be healthy and safe at some locations.
Textbook prices are up, forcing parents to pay more money for basic necessities of learning. These textbooks are mandatory for students, at least in terms of keeping up with peers and being able to perform in tests.
Bus fares are up, hitting the most vulnerable populations – the elderly, minimum wage workers and students.
So it is not an easy time for people endeavouring to improve their chances of success and a happy, healthy life with the most basic of tools that a nation should provide. After all, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have a right to education. Are their rights being violated here in Jamaica if they can’t afford to get to school, can’t afford text books and cannot expect sanitary conditions?