How to reduce poverty’s impact on education

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On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, it’s worth remembering that progress in fighting poverty is inextricably linked with progress in achieving education for all.

Although poverty continues to decline in many countries, it remains a crucial barrier to reaching the goal of universal primary education.

As we found in the 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report, the direct costs of sending children to school, as well as the indirect costs of losing a source of labour, can be formidable for poor parents. As a consequence, not only are poor children less likely to enrol in primary school, but those who do so are more likely to drop out. Low quality education reinforces this problem, as parents are less willing to bear those costs if they cannot see the benefits of education.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, about 10 million children drop out of primary school each year. Although the reasons why children drop out of school vary across and within countries, household income plays a major role.

The 2011 GMR suggested several policies that can help reduce the impact poverty has on dropout levels:

  • Cash transfers to poor families, with eligibility linked to school attendance, can help to counter the effects of poverty. Such a programme has been successfully employed in Mexico, where it both improved enrolment and average years of schooling achieved.
  • Early childhood nutrition programmes can ensure that children are physically prepared for school. Children damaged by malnutrition are more likely to start school late, learn less, and to drop out. In Kenya, for example, a relatively cheap deworming programme improved school attendance by seven percentage points.
  • Ensuring that schools have the necessary teachers, resources and infrastructure is essential. In Colombia, a programme to improve the quality and relevance of education significantly reduced dropout rates. Flexible timing of classes can also reduce the indirect costs of sending children to school.

In countries that have been able to improve education access and quality, education has proved a powerful tool for eradicating poverty, as the Global Monitoring Report team’s Education Counts exhibition showed:

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when it was instigated by United Nations General Assembly. The theme of the 2011 observance is “From Poverty to Sustainability: People at the Centre of Inclusive Development.”

With global attention focused on the upcoming Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), it is critical to draw attention to the importance of poverty eradication for building sustainable futures for all.

About Hans Botnen Eide

Consultant at the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
This entry was posted in Africa, Aid, Basic education, Developing countries, Early childhood care and education, Equality, Finance, Health, Marginalization, Millennium Development Goals, Out-of-school children, Poverty, Teachers. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to How to reduce poverty’s impact on education

  1. Maqbool says:

    we have to increase the impact education has on reducing poverty, it is obviuos that we have to increase employement oppurtunities for educated population.

  2. EFA needs extension for another 5 years!

  3. Pingback: Education in the spotlight in 2011 « World Education Blog

  4. jazrea says:

    Children are mandated to attend school in the US. In Wisconsin, they are legally required to attend until age 18. I wonder how many children and their families would choose not to send their children to school if they had the choice. Education is important, but if schools can not protect students from bullying and weapons attacks, children may be better off at home. Do you think that forced education for everyone is as bad as only having the resources to educate very few children?

    • tumelo ledwaba says:

      it z so important for government to start with education because without education one has no futher as this nowadays life depend on it

  5. debbie says:

    I work in a school district that has been criticized by our state department of education for over-identifying students for special education. Our school district has also been cited by the state for having too many students being served full-time in special education and/or self-contained classrooms. At my particular high school, 25% of the students receive some level of special education support. Seventy percent (70%) of the student population qualifies for free and/or reduced lunch and textbooks. So, the incidence of both special education and poverty are both on the higher end of the continuum. While I do not have hard data/statistics to back up my assertion, I speculated that of the 25% receiving special education support, the clear majority of these students live in poverty. The incidence of poverty among these students is particularly high among those students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities and those with emotional/behavioral disabilities. For students diagnosed with learning disabilities, the presence of poverty seems lower. Again, these are observations based on 13 years of experience working in special education at my particular high school. It raises the question; however, if there is a correlation between qualifying for special education and a higher incidence of poverty. If so, are there particular categories of disabilities that correlate with higher rates of poverty than other categories?

  6. Karl J. Kinkead, PhD says:

    So long as parents devalue education, and governments are content to make education a matter of volition, there will be children left out. After reading blog after blog on the lack of primary education in developing countries, I remain convinced that without incentives (both negative and positive) imposed by the government, poor families will find ways to keep their children home.

  7. a very nice and an eye opener peice.. it is actually very knowledgeable.. poverty is one the biggest reasons why the rate of illitercy is so high in some countries.. but there are a few people who are working towards the betterment of the society.. i was researching on the topic of illeteracy.. and while searching on the search engine i came across tthis very interesting article which speaks of the steps taken by some people towards eradication of illiteracy and educating the pover children in India. i believe everyone must read this..

  8. Jerry Blanco says:

    As a poor member of society, I need to pursue my study no matter how hard the impedements are, it is my ticket to defy poverty and ameliorate my status in life.

  9. I’m more than happy to discover this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to look at new things in your site.

  10. When someone writes an article he/she maintains the
    image of a user in his/her mind that how a user can be aware of it.
    So that’s why this post is perfect. Thanks!

  11. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative
    and amusing, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy
    I came across this during my hunt for something regarding this.

  12. Meinda M says:

    I have worked with a Seattle school that has had partnerships with Zambia schools for over ten years. I am now also working on a fundraiser for a rural Zambia school that we are not able, for logistical reasons, to work with through my school’s program. If you are interested, here’s the fundraising page.

  13. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and
    let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I found this
    during my search for something concerning this.

  14. mariba chandanshive says:


  15. E Hopkins says:

    In your article, you state that education has proved a powerful tool for eradicating poverty. I believe this as well! The three policies suggested by the GMR may have merit, but allow me to make some suggestions based on my reading from two authors, Ruby Payne and Eric Jensen.
    Educators have the opportunity to influence their students’ lives so it’s crucial that staff receive training on how students are affected by poverty. When that’s fully understood, I feel that schools can better serve the needs of these students. Like Payne, I believe that teachers can be positive role models and will need to teach the hidden rules of middle class. I also believe that the students will need to learn the value of support systems (such as coping strategies, problem solving, and procedural self talk) and how to implement them. When discipline matter occurs, Payne would advocate for structure and choice. Teachers state expected behaviors and students make choices. This takes some training, but eventually leads to student independence and self governance of behavior.
    Jensen also makes good points. I agree with his perspective that teachers must have high expectations for these students and hope must be pervasive in the classroom climate. Engaging lessons should be planned as engaged kids stay focused on the content–bored kids means trouble! And finally I strongly believe, like Jensen, that social skills need to be taught.
    A good staff, interested in improving their effectiveness, is key to students’ success.

  16. Pingback: We will never eradicate poverty without quality education for all | World Education Blog

  17. canvas says:

    Education and knowledge is one of the most important elements in life, people who have access underestimate it. Knowledge is a source which can and will humans develop in a more concrete way of learning. Its really sad, people whom don’t have access to same standard of knowledge which are given in States and Europe. Logic studies show that actions made out of knowledge and previous education can be more improving and effective. Article posted is nice and informative, will share it on fb! P.s Working together we all can provide small changes in this world //C

  18. Pingback: we can by no means eradicate poverty with out quality education for all | ONE LIFE – YOUR LIFE



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