Poverty and Education – How Can we Escape the Cycle?


11 May Poverty and Education – How Can we Escape the Cycle?

Poverty and education are interlinked. In a vicious cycle, poverty engenders a lack of education, which perpetuates poverty. Estimates say that nearly 3 billion people all over the world survive on less than U.S. $2.5 per day. Because of limited financial resources, parents cannot afford quality education for their children. Enrolment data shows that in 2005, in developing countries, 72 million children, old enough to go to primary educational institutions, did not attend school.  It was found that in the 21st century, almost a billion people were still unable to sign their names or read. Hence, there is a need to break this cycle.

Children who grow up in poverty are less educated, consequently they are getting low-paid jobs and earning less when they become adults. Boys growing up in impoverished conditions are more likely to be arrested for anti-social activities and girls growing up in poverty-stricken environments are more likely to have children outside marriage. There are significant differences between the rich and the poor in terms of the performance of children, middle school students, and college-going students due to the difference in the income and the poverty status of their families. These differences determine who gets to complete college and who doesn’t, thus widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania states, “Education is not a way to escape poverty – it is a way of fighting it.” Educated parents are able to earn an income, offer quality education, and feed their children well. Children who complete their primary education are more likely to accomplish food security as adults and put an end to the cycle of poverty in their generation.

Investing in the education of the girls is the most effective way of breaking the cycle of poverty as women are the key to economic growth. It is objectionable that females continue to bear the burden of poverty.

To break the cycle of poverty, here are some measures that could be implemented:

  • Providing scholarships to children from poor families
  • Designing education systems so as to cater to the varied needs of children
  • Providing education for poor children through NGOs and missionary groups
  • Offering additional learning support to children from poor families outside regular classes
  • Offering educational funding in the form of tuition fees, accommodation, food, day care, and tools
  • Investing in the education of girls
  • Forgoing school fees and other financial barriers such as uniforms and exam fees for poor children

Poverty-stricken children are often observed to perform worse in school as compared to the children from wealthier backgrounds. It is difficult for the poor child to pay attention in school as he or she is constantly worried about his next meal and whether he or she is going to find a place to sleep that night. More than one-third of the children from low-income families who start kindergarten are not ready for school. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2008, the dropout rate for high-school students from poor families was 8.7% as compared to the rate of 2% for high-school students from rich families.

A few schools have designed programs to find a solution to these issues–after-school learning programs, breakfast programs, and subsidized school trips. Investing in the education of the poor, in order to get them out of poverty, is one of the best contributions that we all can make towards society to help escape the cycle.

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