For some families in Majesty Gardens, education is the way out of poverty. But the stress caused by the coronavirus is affecting their ability to provide for their families and that includes ensuring that their children are ready for school.
With almost two weeks into the academic school year, some of these parents are grappling with the impact of the coronavirus and education.
They are faced with a double whammy of equipping their children with the tools to learn, supervising them at home and maintaining the household while overcoming harsh social issues daily.
Without a smart device, parents say they feel hopeless. For Dionna Henclewood, her children are on the PATH Programme. This means they are eligible to receive a device but she doesn’t know when that will happen.
For now, she explains the hard task of choosing between which one of her children gets to use her phone.
“Weh mi have to do is hinder my two other little daughter from doing them work, the one weh a do PEP [Primary Exit Profile] and the one in a Infant [school] and mek the one weh deh a Ardenne [High School] weh a do CXC get the phone,” she said.
She adds that, ” the Government should never start school without the tools dem reach the school. No man can not do a work without getting tools.”
Socio-economic issues in the Community
The Majesty Gardens parenting group says the community faces deeply rooted socio-economic challenges.
On a usual school day, the group explains that this area would be swarmed with children doing school work.
For only $150 a week, Lionel Francis of the Community Development Committee says students can access the internet, but he explains that the system isn’t strong enough.
“I do computer repairs so I’ve been in dialogue with the school here and with other entities in the community, to see how best we could set up some infrastructure in here to help the kids,” Francis says.
The Majesty Gardens Infant School also uses the WIFI system. However, due to limited online participation from students and parents, the school resorts to printing booklets for the students. And parents who do not have internet access visit the school twice weekly to have their children’s booklet graded.
Principal Marsha Valentine Taylor says a lot of the parents are unemployed.
She adds that, ‘we’re in an inner city community where we have a lot of social issues. A lot of the parents are not able to assist the students at home either; and we all know that when we have social issues we don’t have space in the home and when there is multiple children, it’s the same thing.”
CVM LIVE‘s Jamaila Maitland reports: