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Covid 19- Stark Realization of The Jamaican Society

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Sun a shine, but tings no bright; Doah pot a bwile, bickle no nuff;River flood but water scarce, yawl;Rain a fall but dutty tuff

Louise Bennett-Coverley

 

As the structures of the world are forcefully undergoing a transitional period due to the pandemic, it is paramount that we strive to overcome this hardship as a united force. Before this state, the structures that were in the Jamaican society were lacking in their innovativeness and robustness. Online schooling and work from home facilities were structures that majority of the society were unfamiliar with. This pandemic was a bulldozing force to the lives of people and the structures that we believed to at least be capable in handling any struggles. No one could have foreseen this though. 

Businesses are now in a cycle where there are speedy decisions concerning their operations, and it can be seen the sink or swim state that a lot of them are in. Before this pandemic, only a few of our schools had the facilities to conduct online learning. As our businesses and schools are steadily trying to survive in this time, the disparity in society is clear between the haves and the have nots. 

Tourism and Damaging Facts

In the initial stages where tourism took a nosedive and is still experiencing significant challenges, it crippled society. There was the stark realization that a majority of our society was dependent on tourism, in ways that many of us did not realize. Vendors, taxi operators, restaurants and farmers felt a deafening blow. The society was ripped apart, and the ruin of how we were conducting this economy was there for all to see. 

We are not sufficient; we are much too dependent. In the latest Press Brief from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, it stated that “In July 2020, the number of unemployed persons was 161,300, an increase of 54,600 (51.2%) when compared to July 2019.” A sharp and concerning increase, and though it comes as no surprise, there was still the hope that it wouldn’t be to such a large extent.

As work from home became the main likelihood worldwide to protect ourselves from this virus, we witnessed another painstaking view. How many of us could seriously work from home? As the main television firms went around the society to see the scope and how persons were dealing with this virus….it was a mess. Many of us were living hand to mouth, and hustling was the word of the day. There were no savings for a rainy day, because the finances really did not allow that.

Summer came, and businesses were trying and some were failing to effectively implement measures and processes to compete and strive in this accelerating digital arena. A society that was not very advanced and educated on the use of the internet and the state of navigating important sites was another realization. For the businesses that could not transition smoothly, the state of operation was awful. Communication seemed not to be effective where the managers could see that it was not working. Granted we are in a pandemic, and things will certainly not be smooth, but the degree to how we implement and make changes could have been much better.

Statin then reported that “The Jamaican economy declined by 18.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to the similar quarter of 2019. This is resulted from declines in both the Services Industries (20.3%) and the Goods Producing Industries (12.7%).” Grants, loans and extensions were given. Businesses still struggled. Curfews and social distancing still reigned.

Back to School Blues 

In schools reopening and online learning becoming the main hub, Jamaica experienced another massive blow. The majority of us did not have such access to internet infrastructures and technological devices to sign in to the various classes. Many of our students had to either defer semesters or simply not attend classes. While some schools had a decent percentage of students attending, there were still other schools that were left grasping for what to do. In the households, devices were limited, there was no data to spare, and internet packages are costly for many. 

 In a Gleaner article concerning students in Hanover, it reported that “With roughly half of Hanover’s students unable to access online lessons, calls are mounting for more intervention to prevent pupils at all levels of the education sector from getting left behind.” A concerning element as many other communities are experiencing this same issue.

Let’s Rebuild a Better Nation

Across the world, we are encountering massive changes and challenges. The Jamaican society is experiencing what is happening in the world. However, in the aftermath, there will be the realization of which countries were effective in handling this ravaging state. The hope is that as a country, we can take a serious look at our processes and infrastructures to make our nation more accommodating to everyone. 

The change in the processes and structures by many businesses and institutions should not only be for this period. The state of building and being more resilient must be a continuing force.  More than ever, we are seeing how we need to find a better balance between trading and being self-sufficient. We clearly see the appalling disparity in our nation. Let us start dismantling the senseless structures and strive for and start building a better society.

 

Condolences to all families who had individuals that passed away in this pandemic. 

Please take the proper precautions at this time. Be mindful. Be well.

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