Nearly one-quarter of children in Jamaica are impoverished, and their deprivation and frustrated potential threaten to erode steady progress made in reducing poverty over the past 10 years, the PIOJ warned in its 60-page report issued last week.
Altogether, about one-third of the 2.6 million Jamaicans live in poverty. More than half are children, according to the report.
"The proportion of the poor who are children has consistently been approximately half since 1992," it said.
The document is the first of its kind compiled by the PIOJ, and it highlighted worrying figures about the one million-plus Jamaicans under 18 years of age, who comprise nearly 39 per cent of the population.
Poverty among children and some of its side effects -- inadequate nutrition, low school attendance, and crime -- "have the potential to erode the gains made in child development and survival over recent years", said the report.
Bringing together data from public service agencies and government ministries, the document is intended to help Government and other planners "formulate better public policy development", said Wesley Hughes, the PIOJ's director-general.
The document comes as the administration of Prime Minister P J Patterson faces an increasingly uphill battle to improve Jamaica's ailing economy, amid stepped-up criticism from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Analysts attribute the JLP's landslide victory in local elections last week to public dissatisfaction over the economy's sharp downturn in recent months.
Poverty, to be sure, has decreased over the past decade, and the report noted as much. But in focusing on impoverished children, the PIOJ said it uncovered "worrying features of the poverty experience that continue to contribute to its perpetuation".
The report... [continues]
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