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Education, Inequality, And Poverty

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Just like a tree, poverty has lots of roots. However, among the countless causes of poverty globally, there’s one stand-out factor which is education. Not everyone without education lives in serious poverty; however, majority of the very poor don’t have basic education. People living below the line of poverty will most likely keep their children at home without sending them to school; this means that their children may also live in poverty.

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Education is usually called the great equalizer; with it, doors to resources, education, and skills which are not just necessary for the survival and thriving of the family, will be opened. Access to good quality education at the primary level as well as supporting the well-being of a child is recognized as a global solution to the poverty cycle.

Partly, this is due to the fact that other issues that can make the communities vulnerable are addressed. Let’s quickly take a look at the three ways in which education acts as a secret agent in eradicating extreme poverty, as well as some important facts revolving around education value.

Facts: The effects of education on Poverty

There is a direct relationship between education and many poverty solutions, which includes:

  • Reduced inequality in income
  • Reduced stunting
  • Growth of the economy
  • Reduced maternal and infant deaths
  • Reduced violence in society and home
  • Reduced HIV and AIDS vulnerability in humans

UNESCO revealed that, if all the students residing in the low-income nations, at least had the basic reading skills and nothing more, about 171 million people will be able to free themselves of extreme poverty. If the adults (all of them) completed at least secondary education, the global poverty rate could be reduced by over 50%

3 Ways in which Education affects Poverty

The points listed above are some reasons behind the naming of Education by the United Nations as its 4th Sustainable Development Goal. Below are 3 Ways in which Education affects Poverty

Skills and Abilities are developed by Education

An education system with good quality supports the development of a child’s emotional, social, communication, and cognitive skills.

Programs concerning education also play a vital role in supporting the development of abilities and knowledge. There’s a high chance that children that receive good primary education will develop these assets more than those lacking this. With these skills and abilities, they can then earn higher pay as well as develop other assets further.

Education can be used to combat inequality

Before providing more opportunities for people to participate in the activities of society, there’s a need to look into some of the major obstacles to participation.

In most cases, communities that are vulnerable are not viewed as equals in their immediate community. Due to this fact, there is a lack of power, status, and representation. However, education is clearly the fundamental human right for all.

One of the greatest inequalities perpetuating the poverty cycle is gender. If gender inequality in the class is looked into, it will have a ripple effect on ways in which the women are treated, especially in the communities. If the girls are permitted into the classrooms, they will be opportune to gain knowledge, create skills, and grow socially throughout their formative years. With this, a foundation for lifelong learning is established.

One very good example of inequality is seen in Afghanistan where a community-based education program was developed to enable students living in rural areas to attend classes that are much closer to their homes. This is of great benefit to students living very far from school, but this is more helpful for the girls.

With Education, risk and vulnerability can be decreased

In most countries, the livelihoods and lives of the poor are usually tied to natural disasters, epidemics, and conflicts. These could serve as “force multipliers” as well as elements that raise the probability that the poorest countries will continue in poverty.

However, recall on the old saying that says “knowledge is power”. Education can both reduce inequality as well as protect against risk and vulnerability. Considering the Syrian conflict that seems to leave so many Syrian refugee children (millions of them), a lost generation. Those residing in Turkey also have the issue of language barrier between the Turkish and Arabic.

In cases like epidemics and wars, there are countless psychological and social setbacks to education. Most Syrian children for instance, that are based abroad are still trying to free themselves of the scares of war. Due to this reason, there’s a need for psycho-social support. When kids are assisted to feel safe again, they will be able to re-create some of their lost social skills which happened as a result of trauma. Then they can get back to learning models that are more academic driven.

Taking a look at Sierra Leone, that’s during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, lots of healthy children had to be quarantined for some weeks all at a time. Their social skills and schooling were threatened as a result of this.

The use of Radio classrooms as a tool, proved very useful when it was difficult gathering the children in a real school to give them some connection as they went back to their studies.

Provision of Education for all

The best education type is one great conflict strategy that can be available to a given society. In the year 2018, the work of Concern to promote education for children reached about 350,000 children directly, and 372,000 children indirectly. Out of these students, about 360,000 were female.

Since education seems to have a lot of connection to ways in which extreme poverty can be ended, it can also be seen as a vital element that can be applied to different areas of our work to provide education, which includes emergency response.

Deteriorating security and humanitarian issue in Nigeria and Chad has caused about 252,000 displaced persons to flee to the Diffa region in Niger.

Inequality in Education

Inequality in education was first introduced by Thomas in the year 2000, utilizing a measuring instrument like Education Gini Index. This inequality became a spotlight since the year 2000; and since then, factors leading to inequality in education have now become a topic that needs to be resolved. Liao and Hua in 2011 revealed that five major factors can cause education inequality, which includes:

  • Differences in a student’s socio-economic status
  • Differences in the cultural, social, and economic status influence the achievements of students in math, science, as well as reading skills. These factors reflect the inequality in education from differences in the cultural, social, and economic status of secondary school students. These differences include parent’s highest occupational status, parent’s household wealth, and the view of parents towards the highest level of education, etc.
  • Differences in cultural property ownership and employment
  • The employment status of parents, as well as the cultural property ownership in the home, is another factor affecting the inequality in education.
  • Differences in educational resources and participation
  • This has to do with the percentage of students that can scale science that is related to the educational level of the father and mother, and the number of educational resources they own.
  • The educational investment of the government
  • This is another important factor affecting the gap in education. This has to do with the amount of public spending as well as the financial investment in the Gross domestic product (GDP). This could be one of the main factors causing educational inequality
  • Differences in the educational levels of parents

It has been proved in some countries that the differences in the educational level of some parents also contribute greatly to the education inequality of a child.

Thomas Malthus, in his book “Essay on population” feels that the progress of humans cannot be achieved, due to the inevitable suffering and poverty in society. One cause of this is that the increase in the population grows with geometric progression. A rapidly growing population will lead to a high dependency ratio. When there is a high dependency ratio, people will work harder so that revenue can be increased to be able to meet their needs. The harsh conditions will make people become more oriented to work due to the decline in welfare. People will not even consider education in this case, which will cause inequality in education.

The population theory of Malthus was also mentioned in the study conducted by Kingdon and Dreze in 1999 as well as Thomas and Gaspart in the year 2012, which mentioned that inequality in education can also be caused by dependency ratio. This dependency ratio is the ratio of the population of nonproductive age (those that fall within below age 15 and those aged 65 years and above) with the number of people that falls into the productive age (those that fall with the ages of 15 to 64 years).

By looking at the dependency ratio, the age group that contributed less or most can be determined. In 1999, Dreze and Kingdon conducted a study concerning the participation of school in the rural parts of India. Some variables seen to affect enrollment in school most especially among the girls were background variation, the education of parents and motivation, employment opportunity, dependency ratio, teachers, the regularity of teachers, rural development, and lunch. These findings were related to the dependency ratio.

From this, Dreze and Kingdon discovered that school enrollment is highly affected by high dependency ratios. This means that the higher the dependency ratio is, the lower the participation in school. Furthermore, it will lead to an increase in educational inequality

Also, Gaspart and Thomas in their 2012 study, carried out to study the determinants of poverty dynamics in some rural parts of Madagascar. The poverty in the rural areas of this country can be explained through a vicious circle that turns into a poverty trap. Results revealed that differences in the characteristics of a household as well as the environment had some relationship with the differences in the possibility of poverty transition. Poor households that are vulnerable are less educated and have high dependency ratios.

Results also revealed that activity patterns lead to differences in revenue. The plants cultivated are not really market-oriented. Studies revealed that a large fraction of the probability difference of the transition of household poverty was caused as a result of the poverty status back in the past.

The results from the study by Gaspart and Thomas in 2012 revealed that when a household is positioned under the trap of poverty then there is a high dependency ratio. This condition will affect the revenue income of the society. Earnings will be reduced by high burden dependency while low income will cause lower capital formation.

The poverty trap circle theory by Ragnar Nurkse revealed that the poverty trap circle is created by traps from the capital demand side as well as the supply side. The capital supply side makes the poverty cycle to begin from low-income levels as a result of low productivity level which could result in a low capital formation and saving ability.

In this theory, people that are poor lack access to decent education. Due to this reason, educational inequality will be affected by poverty, the more the number of people that are poor people, the higher the inequality in higher education.

Absolute poverty is one of the definitions of poverty. The Central Statistics Agency viewed absolute poverty with the approach of basic needs. With this approach, poverty is seen as the inability to meet the basic food and non-food needs, which can be measured for the revenue side and the expenditure side.

A study carried by Mesa in 2007, also revealed something similar: In the Philippines, there’s an inequality difference in the education of the poor province and the other not. Compared to the other not, there’s a higher inequality in education in the poor province. Still related to poverty, inequality in education also leads to discrimination between women and men. Compared to the men, the education of women is more distributed equitably.

Grossbard and Schectman in 1995 argued that when there is a high sex ratio (the ratio of the population of men to that of women), women tend to get marriage benefits. When there is a low sex ratio, the men get the marriage benefit. The sources of income of individuals will affect the consumption of individuals in the household. The welfare of the children will be affected by the revenue of the wife and husband.

D. Li and MC Tsang in 2002 conducted a study in China about how education affects gender inequality. One factor causing this is the expenditure of the household. The spending on education in the household demonstrates how effective a household is in paying for the education of their children. The ability to finance education in the household has led to differences in graduate education and emerging inequality issues in education.

We can then say that sex-ratio has an impact on the inequality in education. This is due to the differences in the spending in the household between the wife and husband on the education of the children. The consumption of the mother is based on the welfare of the children. Higher sex ratio means a higher population of men compared to that of the women; thus, with a high sex ratio, there will be an increase in educational inequality.

Another important factor that can affect inequality in education is economic growth. Mankiw in 2012, revealed that economic growth showed increases in average income. Thus, with economic growth, there’s some level of social welfare/prosperity.

10 October 2020

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