Poverty harms children in many ways. Impoverished children experience a reduction in their quality of life, develop fewer skills, and suffer from inadequate living standards. They become vulnerable to disease and get exposed to high mortality rates. Despite these wide-reaching and lifelong consequences, UNICEF still reports that an estimated 356 million children live in extreme poverty worldwide.
The Link Between Poverty and Education
Various interlinked factors cause poverty, and there is no one cause that we can easily identify. There is no doubt, however, that poverty and education are inextricably linked. Children who go to work instead of school do not acquire advanced literacy and numeracy skills essential for better and more sustainable careers. When low-income families cannot cope with the financial burdens attached to education, such as textbooks, tuition fees, and school supplies, children are left with no choice but to drop out. This unfortunate situation often leads to a vicious cycle of poverty that can span generations.
Education Can Break the Cycle of Poverty
Successful case studies that exhibit the instrumental role of education in eradicating poverty can be found all over the world. In Africa, children from impoverished communities have benefited from the standardized learning methodology by Bridge International Schools. Reports have shown that their approach helped impoverished children catch up with their peers in a shorter period while bridging inequities in gender and socioeconomic classes. To put it into context, 82% of Grade 1 pupils in Bridge International Schools were able to read a sentence compared to 27% of children in other schools. Parents of Bridge International Academy students were also reported to have higher engagement in their children’s education.
Having a systematic approach to education in poor communities can ensure that the programs are responsive to the needs of the students. While certain skills are indispensable to academic success, having a context-specific method such as the process employed by Bridge International Schools can bring exponential learning gains to a child’s education journey.
Parents also play a critical role in maintaining their interest in completing their education. When they show their active encouragement, they help keep their children in school. Answering worksheets together on practical topics can help parents take a more proactive part in their children’s learning journey. Together, they can access guided resources such as the ones provided by Teacher’s Brain, which cover lessons on economics, civics, geography, and various other topics.
Accessing quality primary education is also key to breaking the cycle of poverty, especially for children in developing countries like Cambodia. As a country marred with a history of conflict, having a successful educational program for children as soon as they enter the right school age improves the country’s overall human capital and economic development. Cambodia has been making strides in this aspect, with the USAID reporting a 97% enrollment rate of primary education students in 2020.
Because the memories of conflict are still part of recent history in Cambodia, teaching children about its effects is a defining characteristic of Cambodian education. We mentioned in our blog post entitled “Tips for Talking to Students About War” how talking about civil and international conflict is a crucial aspect of an educator’s job. Discussing history, no matter how difficult, is a challenge that a learning system must be willing to address to educate its students effectively. This helps students understand factors that lead to class and socioeconomic struggles that presently exist, including poverty.
Talking about past hardships isn’t just applicable to developing countries. This approach has been applied to first-world countries like Germany, where learning has an emphasis on World War II, and even America, where the civil war is studied in detail.
These successful examples demonstrate how education can provide a path to a promising future by giving children a ladder out of poverty. Having a responsive and supportive educational system can tackle the barriers that hinder students from accessing and completing their schooling and securing a stable future.