When considering the issues of poverty and lack of education, an old saying comes to mind: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”Poverty and low education are each self-perpetuating: Those born into poverty (or illiterate households) often live the remainder of their lives in that same condition and have nothing more to offer their children.
What’s more, it is as if poverty and low education have a magnetic attraction, relentlessly pulling those who are caught in one cycle deep into the other too.
Why is that?
Kristina Birdsong, a writer for Scientific Learning, sums up the relationship between poverty and education by saying, “Today more than ever, education remains the key to escaping poverty, while poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education.”
Let’s look at one example:
Dayita is a mother in Asia living with four children. Poverty and illiteracy permeated her village and her life. Dayita’s husband had consumed so much alcohol that he became too sick to work or even get out of bed, which meant Dayita had no choice but to be the family’s sole breadwinner.
But she was illiterate.
What job opportunities did she have? Manual labor. She and many other illiterate women in her area collected firewood from nearby forests and sold it to provide for their families. It was physically taxing work that kept her from being with her children and still paid very little. But it was all she could do.
Dayita’s illiteracy and poverty set the trajectory of her children’s lives, too. The fight to obtain morsels of bread for their hungry tummies consumed all her strength; sending her children to school was not even something to dream about. And Dayita couldn’t teach her children anything of the alphabet or of mathematics, knowing none herself […]