Theimpact of poverty on educational performance is a controversial issueacross the globe. Poverty is a complex challenge that results indiverse problems for the poor families and their children. Amongthese problems is the lack of resources to meet the basic needs(including shelter), the use of health care facilities, water, andsanitation (Awan, Malik, Sarwar & Waqas, 2011). Poverty creates anegative perception in the affected children who see themselves asfailures in life. This limits their academic performance and resultslow test scores for children from disadvantaged families. Inaddition, poverty has been associated with the high rate of schooldropout. Research shows that an increase in family income by 10 %leads to a 2 % increase in the number of school years completed(Brooks-Gunn, J. & Duncan, 2000). This suggests that childrenfrom disadvantaged families are more likely to drop out of school ortake more years in school than their counterparts from well-offfamilies.
Educationand poverty are inversely related where an increase in one of themaffects the other one in a negative way. This is because an increasein educational achievement reduces the probability of an individualto live in poverty in adulthood, while a high level of poverty limitsones’ ability to attain high scores and higher level education.Education reduces poverty by increasing the skills and productivityof scholars, thus enhancing their ability to earn more incomecompared to their uneducated counterparts (Awan etal.2011). This implies that failure of children from the disadvantagedfamilies to attain higher education limits their productivity duringadulthood, thus subjecting them to the risk of living in poverty.This leads to a scenario in which poverty and poor academicperformance persist in the disadvantaged families.
Importanceof the relationship between poverty and education
Thereare two key factors that make the relationship between poverty andeducation important to me. First, educational achievement improvesthe skills and productivity of the disadvantaged households. Thisimplies that education is among the most effective tools to reducepoverty as opposed to other measures, such as the issue of cheapcapital to start small businesses. In addition, the generallyaccepted perception that high levels of education are associated withan increase in productivity enhances job prospects for the educatedpersons compared to less educated (Berg, 2008). This means thateducation acts as a signal of skills and ability among employers,which helps the better educated to sail safe in the labor market andovercome poverty. Moreover, the society can improve the livingstandard of its people by ensuring equity in the attainment ofeducation, which in turn enhances the ability of households tofulfill their basic needs.
Secondly,it is evident that education is the only effective means of breakingthe chain of poverty that affects the disadvantaged households. Astudy shows that poverty runs from one generation to another mainlybecause the poor families lack the ability to educate their children,thus limiting their productivity during adulthood (Awan etal.2011). The rich families, on the other hand, educate their children,thus increasing their productivity and luck in the labor market. Thismeans that an intervention, either by the government or otherstakeholders to provide equal chances for all children to acquireeducation is the only way to break the chain of poverty. This isbecause educated children, from both the rich and the disadvantagedfamilies, will give them an equal opportunity in the labor market.
Historical,political, and social trends that shape poverty and education
Thereare two historical issues that can be used to explain therelationship between poverty and education in the contemporarysociety. First, the legacy of slavery and its effects on the societyhas persisted to date. Slavery involved human trafficking from thedeveloping world into industrialized economies, such as the UnitedStates and Europe. The enslaved people worked for their masters whosemain intention was to accumulate wealth. The slaves, who form thepresent Black American population, had no right to own property orget access to quality education. This problem has persisted to datewhere most of the school dropouts and high levels of illiteracy areassociated with the minority races who own only 10 % of the assetsowned by the Euro-American households (Cinema Libre, 2009). Althoughslavery was abolished many years ago, the enslaved families had noopportunity to accumulate wealth and educate their children.
Secondly,although slavery did not affect all parts of the world, the majorityof the countries in all continents lost their sovereignty as a resultof colonization. Countries that managed to control foreignterritories, especially during the seventeenth and the eighteenthcenturies, were able to accumulate large quantities of wealth interms of natural resources (Cinema Libre, 2009). Consequently, thehistorical event of colonization created a gap between the colonizingand the colonized countries in terms of accumulated wealth anddomestic economic development. The colonizers had sufficientresources to modernize their education systems and offer qualityeducation, which enhanced productivity of their youths. The economicweaknesses in the colonized countries remained to be the keyimpediments to the development of domestic economies. This explainsthe high level of poverty and low educational attainment in countriesthat were colonized compared to the colonizing countries.
Thepolitical system adopted by a given country can determine theeffectiveness of the government in eradicating poverty and enhancingthe quality of education of the education system. For example, acentralized system of governance, which is mainly adopted in thedeveloping economies, leads to disproportionate distribution ofpolitical power and resources (Westbury, 2014). This is the majorcause of poverty and low educational attainment in the developingeconomies compared to countries with decentralized political system.In addition, corruption, which is mainly associated with thepolitical system, leads to disproportionate distribution of nationalresources and access to academic opportunities. For example, thelimited number vacancies in the public institutions of higherlearning in the developing economies are accessed by those who canafford to give bribes (Westbury, 2014). This denies children from thedisadvantaged families an opportunity to improve their literacybeyond the basic level, thus lengthening the chain of poverty inthese households.
Socialinequality is one of the major causes of poverty and low educationalattainment in the contemporary society. According to Westbury (2014)social inequality stems from perceptions of the society about theworth of various social groups, including the social classes,genders, races, ethnic, and age groups. For example, socialdifferences established during apartheid in South Africa limited theaccess of the black residents to factors of production and academicopportunities, which explains the disparity in educational attainmentand levels of poverty between the White and the Black citizens(Westbury, 2014).
Factorsrelated to poverty and education
Thereare three major negative factors related to education and poverty,including the concentration of crime in the neighborhood, decreasedreadiness for school, and insecure attachment during childhood(Howkins, 2012). Crime is mainly associated with lower educationalattainment and high level of poverty. A research conducted by Hawkins(2012) indicated that children who attained the tertiary level ofeducation held jobs, had higher incomes, and engaged in fewer crimescompared to their uneducated counterparts. In addition, parents ofthe disadvantaged families are occupied with activities that can givethem and their children a daily living, leaving them with little timeto prepare their children for school. This denies children from thepoor families an opportunity to learn the value of education, leadsto a negative attitude towards formal learning and a decrease inacademic performance. These parents also lack adequate resources tofinance education for their children. The poor relationship betweenparents and their children is also associated with extreme levels ofpoverty where children from the disadvantaged families experiencefrequent changes of primary caregivers (Hawkins, 2012). This reducestheir capacity to develop self-confidence and healthy relationshipsin later stages of development. The combination of these negativeeffects reduces the competence of the disadvantaged students, whichleads to poor performance in school, which in turn subjects them tothe risk of living in poverty even during adulthood.
Althoughpoverty and education are associated with many negative effects,there are some positive factors related to them. For example,experiencing poverty hardens children and gives them the courage totake risks in areas like investment, which leads to success duringadulthood (Hawkins, 2012). Other factors include the opportunity toappreciate not being poor, opportunity to learn new skills, andincreased tendency to work hard to improve the future.
Awan,M., Malik, N., Sarwar, H. & Waqas, M. (2011). Impact of educationon poverty reduction. InternationalJournal of Academic Research,3 (1), 660-665.
Berg,S. (2008). Povertyand education.Paris: The International Institute for Educational Planning.
Brooks-Gunn,J. & Duncan, J. (2000). The effects of poverty on children. TheFuture of Children,7 (2), 55-77.
CinemaLibre (2009). Why poverty persists. CinemaLibre.Retrieved June 2, 2014, fromhttp://www.theendofpoverty.com/poverty_persists_1.html
Howkins,J. (2012, October 11). 5 life advantages you acquire fromexperiencing poverty. Motion.Retrieved June 2, 2014, fromhttp://www.rightwingnews.com/john-hawkins/5-life-advantages-you-acquire-from-experiencing-poverty/
Westbury,N. (2014). Causes of poverty. HariSrinivas.Retrieved June 2, 2014, fromhttp://www.gdrc.org/icm/poverty-causes.htm