Child poverty spares no one, even progressive countries. In the UK alone, 3.9 children live in poverty. Even the United States of America isn’t spared from it. ETS reports that over 22% of the nation’s children are poor.
What more in countries like Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and India?
Poverty and education are inseparable. Those who are living in poverty may not have the resources to put their children through school.
Poor children who are in school may stop going altogether so they can work. Thus, these children are less likely to become capable decision makers. They won’t develop into critical thinkers and successful workers.
It’s a vicious cycle, one that we must finally put an end to.
Child Poverty: An Alarming Prognosis
The Center for Universal Education conducted a study on Africa’s total school population. What they found out was shocking. 61 million children would reach adolescence without learning basic skills. The type of skills they need to live a successful life.
Even more shocking is that half of these students will have spent four years in school.
The study further found that over half of students in Grades 4 and 5 are below the minimum learning bar.
That’s just one in countless developing nations that need our attention.
Zooming out to a global perspective, it’s not as gratifying either.
UNESCO found that there are 59 million out-of-school children worldwide. Most of them are students aged 12 to 15 years old.
The situations in schools among developing nations are even more alarming. Classrooms that are supposedly meant for 30 pupils welcome 50. Their learning environment is already compromised. These children don’t get the most out of their education, leading them to seek alternative ways.
The Lack of International Aid
Many factors exist why equal education is still non-existent. One of the most prevalent is the world’s promise to provide each child with at least, primary education.
According to UNESCO:
“no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources”.
The lack of significant international aid is hindering poor children to attain education. External financing must cover 42% of costs in countries living in extreme child poverty. Moreover, multilateral donors have either failed their promise or have shifted their focus. For example, the World Bank decreased their share from 63% to 47%. Even the United Kingdom has decreased their share down to 57%.
However, the lack of aid also raises other concerns like economic crises. Those who have been significantly providing aid are also experiencing their own threats. The effects on poor countries are even more distressing.
“Poor countries are on a worsening trajectory, as severe and deepening pressure from the economic downturn caused by the crisis of the rich world’s banking system bites on their budgets,” David Archer, one of the authors from ActionAid shares.
There’s a lot to account for. The question is, what can we do?
The Influence of Poverty in Learning
Extreme poverty can affect a child’s learning in so many ways. Children without sufficient medical care can lead to impaired cognitive abilities. The likelihood of that happening doubles when they are also malnourished.
Children who are born into poverty are also exposed to a smaller number of words in the household. Thus, it’s harder for them to respond to syntactic complexity and critical conversations. Both of which are instrumental in learning.
Material resources are also limited among poor children. Their parents can’t provide them with the proper space to do their homework or study. They are also financially incapable of having out-of-class tools like computers.
The fact is children who are born into extreme poverty don’t have equal opportunities. That’s why they are less likely to finish school. Most don’t attend secondary school compared to their wealthier peers. Poverty and education is definitely
Empowerment Through Equal Education
It all boils down to providing better opportunities to those who need it. Equal education opportunities are what will make a difference.
Education teaches self-sufficiency and sustainability. When they learn about farming, fishing, and other agriculture techniques, children will grow knowing how to fend for themselves. They will learn how to grow nutritious crops and they will make better health decisions. Pregnant women will also know what foods are best to ensure their baby’s progressive growth. They will always seek what is better for themselves and for their families.
Fights the spread of communicable diseases
Many people in Africa don’t know their burial practices help spread Ebola virus. It stopped in 2014 and 2015. Youth groups educated them and they finally learned more about these deadly diseases. It is yet another testament to how vital education is. It makes people aware of certain diseases and how to prevent them. They can better protect their families. More importantly, ensure a longer, healthier life for everyone.
Improves gender equity
39,000 under-aged girls marry each year, some of them only aged 8 or 9. These early marriages only cut education short. This also leads to issues like domestic violence, child prostitution, and undernourished children.
Now, imagine if the next generation had access to education. The numbers of under-aged marriages might decrease. Lives of women will definitely improve.
Girls who are educated early on become more empowered. They become more knowledgeable about their health and their rights. Moreover, they are more driven to find work after leaving school and live fuller lives.
A fighting chance for a better life
Education improves lives. We all know about the gifted and skilled people in first-world countries. Well, gifted and skilled children in developing countries also exist. It is only through education these children in poverty will develop their potential.
Education is a gateway to self-discovery, growth, and success. Providing poor children with education gives them a fighting chance to a better life.
There’s a lot to be done. Thankfully, the littlest effort counts. With enough hope, motivation and hard work, we can put an end to extreme child poverty.