Global Poverty & Education: The Connection

Education and poverty have an undeniable link.

Education is a key factor in reducing poverty. Poverty, in turn, significantly impacts on the quality of education. In this EDU Blog, we’ll explore this relationship and examine how education can be a powerful tool in fighting global poverty.

What is the relationship between education and poverty?

Education and poverty are interconnected, and their relationship is complex. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of low levels of education. Lack of education often leads to lower income levels.

Consider that low and middle-income countries have experienced an increase in learning poverty by a third, with 70% of 10-year-olds unable to comprehend simple written texts, according to a June 2022 report released by the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), USAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The rate was 57% before the pandemic, but now the problem has deepened. Students in this generation risk losing $21 trillion in potential earnings. This is the equivalent of 17% of today’s global GDP, up from the $17 trillion estimated in 2021. Therefore, the cycle of poverty will continue for those unable to earn enough money to meet their basic needs.

On the other hand, poverty also creates significant educational barriers, such as a lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure, and social exclusion.

Effects of poverty on education

The effects of poverty on education are extreme. According to UNESCO, there are still 258 million out-of-school children worldwide. Many reasons contribute to children not attending school, but all are linked to poverty.

In many parts of the world, poor children have to walk long distances to get to school. This can be tough, especially if they are also dealing with hunger or illness.

In other cases, families may not be able to afford the cost of education, like school fees, textbooks or uniforms. Poor students may also struggle with poor mental health and low self-esteem, which can all impact their ability to learn.

Poverty further leads to lower levels of parental involvement in education.  This is because parents may be focused on meeting basic needs rather than supporting their children’s learning.

How does education affect poverty?

Education is a powerful tool in reducing global poverty. As Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, once said: “Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”

Studies have shown that education is closely linked to social mobility, higher income levels, and better health outcomes. Education provides individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to access better job opportunities and improve their economic prospects. It can also empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Moreover, educated individuals are more likely to participate meaningfully in their communities.

Does poverty and level of education correlate with crime?

Research has shown that poverty and low levels of education are strongly linked to crime. Individuals who experience poverty and lack of educational opportunities are more likely to engage in criminal activities. However, providing education and economic opportunities can help break this cycle and reduce crime rates.

5 ways education can end poverty

Without a doubt, education is the solution to poverty. Here are 5 ways to fight poverty through education:

1. Investing in education in poor countries: Supporting education initiatives in low-income countries can help break the cycle of poverty by providing individuals with the skills they need to succeed.

2. Providing educational support for poor students: Financial assistance, scholarships, and other forms of support can help students from low-income backgrounds access and succeed in education.

3. Improving the quality of education: Governments must build education systems that reach every child and keep them in school. Ensuring that all students have access to high-quality education can improve their prospects for success and reduce the impact of poverty on their education.

4. Addressing barriers to education: Providing resources such as transportation, school supplies, and safe housing can help overcome barriers to education that may be caused by poverty.

5. Tackling the link between poverty, education, and crime: Addressing poverty and providing educational opportunities can help reduce the likelihood of individuals turning to crime as a means of survival.

The way forward

Now we know the link between global poverty and education. Education promotes economic growth because it provides skills that increase employment opportunities and income. With adequate education, students can break out of the cycle of poverty and gain the skills to develop their own communities, and indeed the world, for the better.

Therefore, when we reduce barriers to education, we set students up to thrive.  Would you like to encourage global learning? Sign up for EDU Passport and join our community of educators now.

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