Effects of Poverty on Education

There is a strong link between poverty and education. Education, which is one of the top ways to achieve financial stability,1 can empower a person to rise out of poverty. But the effects of poverty on education present a formidable obstacle to achieving this feat.

Those from poor households are five times more likely to be among the more than 250 million children worldwide who are out of school.2 This statistic can result from many reasons, but most of them stem from poverty.

Impoverished families, especially in developing countries, often simply cannot afford to send their children to school. If they are among the 736 million people living below the poverty line, making $1.90 a day or less,3 it may take every bit of that income just to feed their families. Even if tuition is free, related expenses such as school supplies may be unfeasible.

Parents in such situations may feel compelled to keep children out of school so they can work. They may fear the loss of any family income in their pursuit of survival. This was the case for Taboras, a father of nine in Asia whose family earned a living by scavenging through trash for sellable items. He, like many impoverished parents, didn’t realize the value of education and how it could vastly improve his children’s lives and future prospects.4

But poverty also affects children who do attend school. In addition to the lack of proper school supplies, impoverished children often suffer from the lack of proper nutrition. This deficiency, and other stresses related to poverty, impairs cognitive development, and hinders one’s ability to concentrate in class and retain information.5 Malnutrition can also lead to frequent sickness, which results in children missing school and the chance to learn.6

Organizations such as GFA World recognize the importance of education and help families overcome the formidable obstacle of poverty.

Through GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program, and other community development initiatives, children receive assistance with essentials such as nutritious food, medical checkups, and school supplies as well as academic support. GFA workers thus empower children, and their families, to rise out of poverty that may have been passed down by multiple generations before them.

1 Rodriguez, Leah. “Understanding How Poverty is the Main Barrier to Education.” Global Citizen. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/poverty-education-satistics-facts/. February 6, 2020.
2 “Education: Every child has the right to learn.” UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/education. Accessed August 18, 2021.
3 “Poverty.” The World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview. Accessed August 5, 2021.
4 “The Gift of Education.” REJOICE: Gospel for Asia Newsletter. https://gfa-newsletter.org/issue/18/2/the-gift-of-education/. February 2021.
5 Bradley, Olivia. “What is the Relationship Between Poverty and Learning?” The Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/what-is-the-relationship-between-poverty-and-learning/. Accessed August 18, 2021.
6 Walthouse, Emily. “Effects of Hunger on Education.” The Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/effects-of-hunger-on-education/. Accessed August 19, 2021.