Poverty and Education

Each year, increasing numbers of children are entering schools with circumstances associated with poverty. “Poverty is considered a major at-risk factor in a child’s education. Leroy &. Symes, (2001). Factors such as ; very young , single or low educational level parents, unemployment, abuse and neglect, substance abuse, dangerous neighbourhoods, homelessness, frequent mobility and lack of basic tools such as books, internet access, money, nutrition, positive role-models or vision / hearing problems inhibit a child’s ability to focus on his / her school work

Children of poverty may live in places that rent for short periods. They may move from town to town as their parents search for work or run from abusive spouses. ‘Barrel’ children who live with their grandparents, sometimes hardly ever see their parents whose only gesture of love may be a barrel of clothes and goodies sent from abroad once in a while. Their school attendance is irregular and they often transfer from one school to another without proper records from their previous school.

Some children of low-income homes experience levels of emotional trauma manifesting in feelings of alienation, inadequacy, depression and anxiety. They may become aggressive or withdraw socially as their emotional insecurity and self-esteem become challenged. “There is a craving for attention and a need to belong.” Ciaccio, (2000). This emotional draining literally zaps their motivation to learn. This is further exacerbated by having acquired failure expectations from their parents. Even capable students begin to doubt their academic ability and envision low grades even before completing a task. They usually resort to setting lower goals for themselves and in the process, inhibit their true potential.

Research has shown that parental support and involvement in school activities is lower in poorer homes. This may not be due to lack of interest but may be because of difficult working hours, availability or affordability of child care, lack of transportation or shortage of financial resources.

Poverty should not be an excuse for us to expect less from our children. Their education is the best chance they may have to break the poverty cycle. Being poor should be one of the best reasons a child may have to want to succeed.

Every organization, governmental or non-governmental must be prepared to assist in scaffolding struggling children to achieve some level of success and self-esteem. Every child has the ability to succeed in time.

Bill Gates once said “I failed in some subjects in exams, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer at Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.”

Halimah’s Helping Hands (H.H.H.), despite the challenges and constraints of funding and personnel have found a pathway to assist many children of deprived homes in securing some basic amenities such as school books and supplies, clothes and personal items which help to alleviate some of the difficulties they experience. It is our fervent hope that our small intervention, will, in some way, impact on ensuring that “ No Child is Left Behind” God willing.

Sharaz Ali
Former Principal
El Socorro TIA School