What are the Effects of Poverty on Children's Education?
When it comes to education, poverty creates and widens achievement gaps. It causes children to underachieve in school and to have greater difficulty finding employment as adults. It denies poor children access to resources and limits educational opportunities; poor children are disproportionately less likely to attend school than their peers.
"Consider two children born in 2000, one in a very high human development country, the other in a low human development country. Today the first has a more than 50-50 chance of being enrolled in higher education: More than half of 20-year-olds in very high human development countries are in higher education. In contrast, the second is much less likely to be alive. Some 17 percent of children born in low human development countries in 2000 will have died before age 20, compared with just 1 percent of children born in very high human development countries. The second child is also unlikely to be in higher education: In low human development countries only 3 percent are."6
Tens of millions of children around the world have no access to education. And tens of millions more children aren’t benefiting from their time in school.
Inequalities in income, gender, culture and health deny children in poverty the basic human right of education. Unable to attend school and on the margins of society, these children do not develop intellectually and socially, and do not have the skills necessary to improve their circumstances as they grow up.
Poor children who do attend school have more difficulty developing intellectually and cognitively as well. Living conditions including substandard housing and homelessness, along with inadequate or non-existent access to health care, and poor nutrition and hunger contribute to childhood disease and sicknesses, as well as wasting and stunting, all of which hampers a child’s physical and cognitive development.
Poverty, and all the ills associated with it, such as hunger, disease, inequality, violence, exploitation, and unemployment, increase the risk of non-schooling and increase the school drop-out rates. Poverty takes away the opportunity for a quality education. It limits future potential. It increases risk for trafficking and exploitation. It prevents children from dreaming and hoping for a better life, trapping them in a life of misery. And the trap can extend to their children and last generations more.