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Lack of access to education is a major predictor of passing poverty from one generation to the next, and receiving an education is one of the top ways to achieve financial stability.

In other words: education and poverty are directly linked.

Increasing access to education can equalize communities, improve the overall health and longevity of a society , and help save the planet .

The problem is that about 258 million children and youth are out of school around the world, according to UNESCO data released in 2018. 

Children do not attend school for many reasons — but they all stem from poverty.

Here are all the statistics, facts, and answers to questions you might have that shed light on the connection between poverty and education. 

How does poverty affect education?

Families living in poverty often have to choose between sending their child to school or providing other basic needs. Even if families do not have to pay tuition fees, school comes with the added costs of uniforms, books, supplies, and/or exam fees. 

Countries across sub-Saharan Africa, where the world’s poorest children live, have made a concerted effort to abolish school fees . While the ratio of students completing lower secondary school increased  in the region from 23% in 1990 to 42% in 2014, enrollment is low compared to the 75% global ratio. School remains too expensive for the poorest families. Some children are forced to stay at home doing chores or need to work. In other places, especially in crisis and conflict areas with destroyed infrastructure and limited resources, unaffordable private schools are sometimes the only option .

Why does poverty stop girls from going to school? 

Poverty is the most important factor that determines whether or not a girl can access education, according to the World Bank. If families cannot afford the costs of school, they are more likely to send boys than girls. Around 15 million girls will never get the chance to attend school, compared to 10 million boys. 

Read More: These Are the Top 10 Best and Worst Countries for Education in 2016 

Gender inequality is more prevalent in low-income countries. Women often perform more unpaid work, have fewer assets, are exposed to gender-based violence, and are more likely to be forced into early marriage, all limiting their ability to fully participate in society and benefit from economic growth. 

When girls face barriers to education early on, it is difficult for them to recover. Child marriage is one of the most common reasons a girl might stop going to school. More than 650 million women globally have already married under the age of 18. For families experiencing financial hardship, child marriage reduces their economic burden , but it ends up being more difficult for girls to gain financial independence if they are unable to access a quality education.

essay about education and poverty

Read More: 10 Barriers to Education Around the World

An educated girl is not only likely to increase her personal earning potential but can help reduce poverty in her community, too. 

“Educated girls have fewer, healthier, and better-educated children,” according to the Global Partnership for Education.

When countries invest in girls’ education, it sees an increase in female leaders, lower levels of population growth, and a reduction of contributions to climate change. 

Can education help break the cycle of poverty? 

Education promotes economic growth because it provides skills that increase employment opportunities and income. Nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling, and 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all adults completed secondary education, according to UNESCO. 

Education increases earnings by roughly 10% per each additional year of schooling. For each $1 invested in an additional year of schooling, earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle income countries. 

Read More: 264 Million Children Are Denied Access To Education, New Report Says

Education reduces many issues that stop people from living healthy lives, including infant and maternal deaths, stunting, infant and maternal deaths, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, and violence.

How can we end extreme poverty through education?

There are more children enrolled in school than ever before — developing countries reached a 91% enrollment rate in 2015 — but we must fully close the gap. 

World leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters to address the disparity in 2015 and set 17 Global Goals to end extreme poverty by 2030. Global Goal 4: Quality Education aims to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere."

Read More: How We Can Be the Generation to End Extreme Poverty

The first step to achieving quality education for all is acknowledging that it is a vital part of sustainable development. Citizens, governments, corporations, and philanthropists all have an important role to play. Learn how to ensure global access to education to end poverty by taking action here .

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Understanding How Poverty is the Main Barrier to Education

Feb. 7, 2020

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Poverty and Education, Essay Example

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Poverty has very far-reaching implications on every state’s education system. This essay illustrates the relationship between poverty and education. Focus will be on poverty as it relates to education in chapter 17 of the novel Great Expectation and as it exists in Rhodes Island today. During the days of Great Expectation , poverty had a very negative effect. In the world that we are living in today, specifically here in Rhode Island, poverty limits educational choices for young people in that they get low quality or no education at all, both at the basic level and at college level.

It was because of poverty that few good education opportunities existed during Great Expectation . The best that someone like Pip could become was an apprentice blacksmith. A girl as brilliant and hardworking as Biddy could only end up juggling between sewing and doing domestic work. The evening school that is mentioned in the novel is described as ‘miserable and noisy’. In such an environment, it is difficult for proper learning to take place.

Today, Rhode Island’s education system faces new challenges. Poverty makes it difficult for many brilliant students to pursue their education beyond high school. They end up in the streets, abusing drugs and doing nothing much with the little education they have already acquired. Public schools do not offer students the best learning environments. Poverty leads to congestion that makes the environment noisy and therefore not suitable for learning. Many students in Providence have to endure temptations to engage in drugs, alcoholism and prostitution, vices that are perpetuated by poverty in this society.

The solution to tackling the effects of poverty on education lies in setting up initiatives that will ensure that education standards are not compromised because of poverty. The programs should be initiated at both governmental and non-governmental level.

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Poverty And Education Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Poverty , Social Issues , Students , Sociology , People , Economics , Nation , Influence

Words: 2500

Published: 02/20/2023



Most of the people agree that the relationship between poverty and education is a two-way direction. Increase in the rate of poverty could result to poor educational attainment of people since people living below or near the poverty threshold could not afford adequate education (Krueger & Lindahl 1102). On the other hand, poor educational attainment could result to people being constraint to live below or near the poverty threshold due to the lack or low amount of opportunities (Berg 1). In most of the studies, it shows consistently that economic and social status is an important factor or determinant of the outcomes with regards to education. It also shows that the level of educational attainment could influence the earnings and living standard of people. One of the main problems of the United States is the increasing rate of poverty and its influence on education (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos 113). According to the Southern Education Foundation, the majority of the students in the United States are from the low-income family. It is the first time in 50 years that most of the students in primary and secondary education came from the low-income class. The federal and the state government of the United States are spending about $500 billion per year in the education sector (Layton np). However, it still could not solve the problem of increasing poverty rate. In order to solve the problem of increasing poverty rate, the government as well as other organizations should require more focus on increasing the budget for education and providing special education interventions. The objective of this essay is to argue that improving the education sector could help in solving the problem of increasing rate of poverty. This essay also opts to evaluate the relationship of poverty and education in order to understand how improving education could help in providing solutions the problem of high poverty rate. People should consider some of the methods to improve the educational attainment of students such as special education interventions and increasing budget for education in order to solve the problem of increasing poverty rate.

Background on Poverty

In order to understand the influence of social and economic status of people on education, one should also understand the concept of poverty. Poverty should not be viewed only as absence financial resources of an individual. According to Amartya Sen, poverty should be considered as the individual’s lack of capability to function well in the community or in the society due to several social and economic reasons (Sen 4). The lack of adequate education could also be considered as a type of poverty. Sen also distinguished two types of poverty which is the absolute poverty and relative poverty (Sen 4). Absolute poverty refers to the lack of financial resources required to survive on a minimum standard of living (Berg 1). On the other hand, relative poverty is viewed or determined by the society or community in which the person belongs. It should be considered that providing solution to solve the problem of high poverty rates require complicated programs strategies. This is because the concept of poverty is not as simple as any other economic concept. It requires full understanding of other important factors such as social marginalization, social skills and educational attainment (Krueger & Lindahl 1102). This is the reason why government should focus more on providing solutions to the problem of education rather than providing people the advantages on earning more (Berg 1). People should focus more on improving the education sector in order to solve the problem of poverty.

Influence of Education on Economic Growth

Better educational attainment could provide individuals higher probability of acquiring better jobs and earn more due to the larger job opportunities. Firms and industries require more educated people in their business since they knew that they have more skills and knowledge regarding the field. People will higher educational attainments are considered to be more productive economically which results to higher earnings (Berg 5). The influence of education on the poverty rate is associated to the higher earnings and the higher opportunities in the labour market. In general, countries with higher amounts of educated people tend to become more economically developed due to the stronger labour market. One of the main reasons why government should focus on improving the education sector is that it could also improve the economic growth of the nation. The main economic concept which could explain the influence of education on the economic growth is the concept of human capital. Human capital is the ability to perform labour and produce economic value through social and personal attributes (Krueger & Lindahl 1102). In general, higher human capital of the nation means more people to work on various fields. Higher workforce could result to economic growth due to the high productivity level. Improvement of the education sector is one of the methods of improving human capital.

Influence of Education on General Living Standards

Another reason why the government should improve the education sector of the nation is that it could influence the improvement in the general living standards of their people. Higher educational attainment could provide social benefits other than the increase in financial resources. These social benefits could not be easily acquired by individuals who are not educated. One of these social benefits is the improvement in the living standards of individuals. Educated people are often more capable of contributing economic and social development of the nation. This is because educated people often change in behaviour due to the knowledge or skills they acquire. Education should be improved in order to acquire these social developments. Education is also viewed as a tool to combat several social and economic issues (Berg 5). In most of the studies, experts concluded that countries with more educated people are often more capable of solving social issues such as the combating HIV and AIDS, environmental sustainability and community development. In is known that solving these social issues could help in reducing the poverty rate of the nation. Improvement of the education sector is not only directly influencing the poverty rate. It also indirectly improves the poverty rate of the nation through social development.

How Poverty Affects Educational Outcomes

The social and economic status of a student is considered to be the most influential factor or determinant for the educational outcomes in most of the developing and developed countries. Home background could affect the ability of students to learn in school as well as to participate in the activities in the classrooms. Some of the students are held back on their education due to lack of financial resources or due to the lack of parental influence (Berg 9). There are programs that could help poor students to pursue their education and increase the educational outcomes of a nation such as scholarships and other educational benefits. However, it is still not enough to support the large volume of poor students in the country (Raffo et al. 253). Some studies suggest that the influence of the social and economic status of students on the educational attainment could be reduced by improving the performance of poor students in the schools (Krueger & Lindahl 1102). There are several methods that could improve the performance of poor students such as special education intervention. However, studies also concluded that the high poverty level at schools could also negatively influence the educational outcomes of students. In general, students attending schools with higher quantity of poor students have the greatest disadvantage (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos 113). In this case, special education intervention is still not enough. People should consider increasing the budget for education sector.

How Poverty Affects Student’s Ability to Learn

The high poverty rate could also indirectly influence the educational outcome of students through low parental education, limited financial resources, poor home background and poor nutrition and health (Temple 905). In general, poverty could reduce the student’s capability to learn due to circumstances or consequences of poor educational environment. For example, large quantity of students coming from the low-income families have high tendency to have poor nutrition and health. It is known that poor nutrition and health are related to the negative impact on educational outcome (Berg 11). In general, students who are poor in nutrition and health are less likely to enrol or to pursue their education. People especially for the government should improve the condition of schools or students in order to increase the educational outcome. The government should provide special education intervention in order for the school to be conducive for learning (Layton np). Unstable environmental and financial status of students could greatly affect their ability to learn. In some developing countries, the educational outcome is relatively low due to the consequences of high poverty rate. The government should consider helping students to overcome the negative impacts of low social and economic status in order to improve their ability to learn (Krueger & Lindahl 1102).

Reduction of Educational Enrolments and Human Capital

Another obvious impact of high poverty rate is the reduction of educational enrolments. The financial requirements and opportunity cost of education is increasing in the modern times. More children now prefer to work on farms or in households to support their families. Most of the students also perceived low opportunities and benefits for pursuing education (Berg 13). In most of the developed countries, the demand for primary and secondary education is decreasing which is an alarming issue since it has a direct relation with the human capital of the nation. In general, the decrease in human capital of a country could lead to slow down of their economic growth due to the lack of labour market (Raffo et al. 253). The government as well as the school institutions have the responsibility to increase the educational outcomes of students. They have the responsibility to inspire their students to pursue their education and acquire a career in the future. The school institutions should provide information to their students about the large opportunities for them if they would finish their studies or if they would graduate (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos 113). There are certain special educational interventions that could inspire students to pursue their dream and to continue their education. Access to adequate education is often the main problem in developing countries. The government should provide enough economic support in providing adequate education to their people since it could also result to the reduction of poverty rate of their nation.

How Social Marginalization Affects Educational Attainment

The consequences of relative poverty could also negatively affect the educational attainment of students and the educational outcomes of the nation. One of the major consequences of relative poverty is social marginalization (Berg 16). Some people are socially marginalized due to their lack of ability to function well in the society. The relative poverty could greatly influence the educational outcomes off the nation if the students who belong to the family with lower income are socially marginalized (Krueger & Lindahl 1102). Social marginalization should be removed in order for the students to function well in schools. Social marginalization due to poverty should be abolished in order to improve the motivation of students to pursue their education.

Education Intervention for Reduction of Poverty Rates

One of the main solutions to reduce the poverty rate of the nation is to improve the education sector. One of the strategies of improving education is to provide special educational intervention. Education could provide solutions for the problem of high poverty rate of the nation through special education intervention. Special education interventions are programs which could help schools to motivate students to continue on their studies and to finish their education. Some of these programs include involving parents in the education of their children, literacy campaign for adults, anti-poverty policies and regulations, social works in the community, nutritional programs, and remedial education measures (Berg 20). The success of these programs could vary depending on the condition or situations of schools or the community itself. Some places have common problems such as the low nutrition of the young individuals in the community. In this case, nutritional programs could be more suitable for these places. Implementation of these programs is necessary in order to improve the learning outcome and education outcome of students. The government as well as the school institutions should consider developing these types of programs since it could help in improving the education sector as well as solving the general problems of high poverty rate.

Increasing the Budget for Education

Another obvious solution to improve the education sector and to help solve the problem of high poverty rate is to increase the budget allocation for education. Some schools with more students belonging to low-income families tend to have lower school resources such as books, classrooms and even faculties. Helping these schools to acquire more school resources could also help provide adequate education to students coming from low-income families (Berg 21). Investing more on education could also help in reducing the poverty rate since it could result to higher economic and social functionality.

It is known that poverty and education are co-related with each other. High poverty rate could result to low education outcome and low educational attainment could result to more people living below or near the poverty threshold. Solving the problem of low education outcome is easier than solving the problem of high poverty rate. There are several major reasons why education could influence the poverty rate of a nation. The government and the school institutions should provide programs and plans in order to improve the education sector of any country. Some of these programs and plans include especial education intervention and increasing budget allocation for education (Temple 905). In solving the problems of the nation, one should consider adding more educated people since they are the ones that could help any country.

Works cited:

Berg, S. Poverty and Education. Education Policy Series. International Academy of Education. 2008. Web. <> Krueger, A., & Lindahl, M. “Education for growth: Why and for whom?”. Journal of Economic Literature 39 (2001): 1101-1136 Layton, L. Majority of the US public school students are in poverty. The Washington Post. 2015. Web. <> Psacharopoulos, G., & Patrinos, H. “Returns to investment in education: a further update”. Education Economics 12.2 (2004): 111-134. Print. Raffo, C., Dyson, A., Gunter, H., Hall, D., Jones, L., & Kalambouka, A. Education and poverty: a critical review of theory, policy and practice. Manchester: Joseph Rowntree Foundation & University of Manchester. 2007. Print Sen, A. Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001. Print. Temple, J. “Generalizations that aren’t? Evidence on education and growth”. European Economic Review 45 (2001): 905-919. Print.

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Good Argumentative Essay About Education And Poverty:

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Education , Children , Family , Students , United Nations , School , People , Social Issues

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/14

The Golden Ticket of Education

Education is a gift, according to Nicholas Kristof, and there is no end to this truth when considering impoverished nations. In western culture, education is taken for granted, almost as a right. In this way, people in the west seem to overlook the value, possibility, and opportunity it affords them. Those in impoverished nations have a very different view of education. Many believe it is the answer to a better life. Education is to be strived for, sometimes at any cost as Malala Yousufzai showed the world when she stood up for education and was shot in the head by the Taliban (“Malala”). However, education is a privilege of the rich, and without the necessary resources (usually in the form of finances), education is often impossible. Yet, education should be a human right, and it should be available to impoverished nations just as much as anywhere else in the world. To this end, those who can donate or share their resources in hopes of bringing education that much closer to people and nations without the means have a responsibility to do so. It starts with the individual. In Western culture, school is part of daily routine for children of four years of age, sometimes even younger. Learning and education, in fact, take up a great deal of the day as well as a great deal of time during adolescence. Along with extracurriculars, it might be argued that education is the primary purpose of a youth’s life. This lasts until at least 18 years of age, and often well into the 20s. Why? Education is a promise for a future, a positive future and one with financial security and societal contribution. It affords purpose to children and young adults, and it provides them with the necessary skills and resources needed to survive and to thrive in the society they were born into. UNICEF explains, “They are being denied their basic human right to education, with far-reaching consequences: Without it, their future opportunities are dramatically limited. If schooling unlocks the gate to a bright and successful future, a childhood bereft of education erects nearly insurmountable barriers” (“Basic Education”). It is these barriers that education breaks down, but this is oversimplifying a very complex issue. The important thing to note is that education is perhaps the most important factor in having a bright future. This isn’t to be understood purely in the metaphorical sense. According to United Nations Girls Education Initiative, “a child born to a mother who can read is 50 per cent more likely to survive past the age of five, and in sub-Saharan Africa an estimated 1.8 million children’s lives could have been saved in 2008 if their mothers had a secondary education at least.” These statistics are staggering and sobering. This puts a real number on the value of education. The article goes on to say that, “171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills” (“Investing in Education”). The point is made. Education is invaluable. In western culture, school is often free to the public, but that isn’t necessarily cross-cultural or international. In fact, according to UNICEF, “of an estimated 101 million children not in school, more than half are girls” (“Basic Education”). This reveals another struggle that faces education. Not only does socioeconomic status determine who can get an education, but gender also impacts this. But to tackle all of these restricting factors at once is to overwhelm a manageable issue. That being the case, understanding the role that poverty plays in education is essential in determining a solution. According to Children International, “Education plays the central role in escaping generational poverty. It’s been estimated that for every year a child stays in school, their future earning potential increases by 10-20 percent. Unfortunately, many families in poverty consider education a luxury and even those who value it can find it difficult to afford.” It should be mentioned that people in impoverished nations do understand the value of education, but that matters very little when it requires all of one’s resources just to survive. The fact is that education does cost money. Children International breaks expenses down into categories: uniforms, supplies, financial support like school fees and transport, libraries, study aids, computer centers, scholarships, and community literacy which involves reading resources. This list is not comprehensive, but it does list much of the essentials and it paints a good picture of just what a good education requires. However, stressing the amount of necessary resources that education demands is not done to scare anyone away. Instead, it is to stress the dire need of even the smallest donation because lack of education is still a very real issue. It is not all bad though. In fact, there has been some tremendous progress over the past few years. The United Nations Girls Education Initiative explains that “early all children in Tanzania attend primary school, compared to less than half at the beginning of the decade. India, with about 5.6 million children out of school in 2008, is expected to bring down this number to about 750,000 by 2015” (“Investing in Education”). This is right around the corner, and these statistics should be encouraging that people are making a different through monetary and time investments. So how can people lend a helping hand? How can one single individual make a difference? Fortunately, there are funds and charities out there that take donations in an effort to provide education to all the underprivileged. For example, there are many different organizations that take donations like Children International and UNICEF. There are initiatives being started to rebuild communities and schools like the ‘Go to School’ campaign launched by UNICEF in Southern Sudan. Then there are programs like HELP, the Haitian Educational and Leadership Program, that was started by a young American teaching in Haiti. Through the generosity and leadership of this one individual, he has helped send “hundreds of young men and women to Haitian universities” (Kristof). One individual can make a huge difference, and the story of Nikenson Romage and Conor Bohan is noteworthy. Since Haiti “remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” (Kristof), it is was in dire need of a hero like Conor Bohan who saw a problem and put forth everything he could in order to change the life of Nikenson Romage by helping to fund his college tuition. This was just the beginning though. Now the organization does much more: “HELP scours the country for brilliant but impoverished high school graduates. Once selected, the students also get coaching in English, computer use, and leadership and public service. The aim is to nurture an elite corps of change-makers to build up the country” (Kristof). This is perhaps the most awe-inspiring because often those who live in impoverished nations can only thrive outside of their home country, but HELP is trying to combat that issue of dispersal as well. In this way, education helps not only the youth, but the community. The facts are out there: education is the golden ticket to opportunity and quite literally life in some places. Education has been proven to give children from impoverished nations a fighting chance. People all over the world are literally fighting for an education, but for those in the western world, it takes much less effort. In fact, it is as simple as clicking the buttons on the keyboard. Even though it may seem like an insurmountable task when the concept of global education for all is considered, but it works on a much smaller scale. It works with one single individual giving the time and money they can afford to a cause he or she believes in. This individual could be anyone of us. The benefits, well, they are unforeseen, but those benefits exist in abundance, especially for those children who deserve the chance of an education.

Works Cited

“Basic Education and Gender Equality.” UNICEF., 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. “How We Help Fight Poverty with Education.” Children International. 2015. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. “Investing in education will help advance global anti-poverty targets – UN.” UN News Centre. 23 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. Kristof, Nicholas. "The Gift of Education." The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.  “Malala, 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by Taliban, can recover, UK doctors say.”, 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

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  1. Understanding How Poverty is the Main Barrier to Education

    Can education help break the cycle of poverty? Education promotes economic growth because it provides skills that increase employment opportunities and income. Nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling, and 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all adults completed secondary education, according to UNESCO.

  2. Poverty and Education, Essay Example

    Poverty has very far-reaching implications on every state’s education system. This essay illustrates the relationship between poverty and education. Focus will be on poverty as it relates to education in chapter 17 of the novel Great Expectation and as it exists in Rhodes Island today.

  3. The Effects Of Poverty On Education Education Essay

    However, with the growth in the child poverty rate, the education system struggles to provide the programs low-income children need to succeed (Armstrong, 2009). These programs are often cut when the economy is down (Armstrong, 2009). Poor schools, such as those in rural areas, have low per-pupil expenditures (Fusarelli & Militello, 2012).

  4. Free Essay About Poverty And Education

    This essay also opts to evaluate the relationship of poverty and education in order to understand how improving education could help in providing solutions the problem of high poverty rate. People should consider some of the methods to improve the educational attainment of students such as special education interventions and increasing budget for education in order to solve the problem of increasing poverty rate.

  5. Good Argumentative Essay About Education And Poverty:

    Yet, education should be a human right, and it should be available to impoverished nations just as much as anywhere else in the world. To this end, those who can donate or share their resources in hopes of bringing education that much closer to people and nations without the means have a responsibility to do so.