Education Can Be The Key To Ending Generational Poverty

Education Can Be The Key To Ending Generational Poverty

Generational poverty is quite a complex issue, which occurs when a family has lived in poverty for at least two generations.

Anjan VijUpdated: Monday, July 03, 2023, 11:57 AM IST
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Nearly 90% of Indian children are born into families that struggle with substantial poverty.

Children from low-income families face a huge gap when starting school compared to wealthier peers and are less likely to achieve social, emotional and behavioural outcomes. This gap compounds over time resulting in poor life outcomes and perpetuating intergenerational poverty (National Research Council).

Education and its Link with Poverty

Generational poverty is quite a complex issue, which occurs when a family has lived in poverty for at least two generations. Due to several factors, such as limited access to healthcare, quality education, employment opportunities and other systemic barriers, poverty tends to be passed down from generation to generation, the brunt of which is felt by systematically marginalised communities. By investing in education, we can help address these barriers and create a more equitable society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

A 2017 UNESCO policy paper found that 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all adults completed secondary education, reducing the total number of poor people by more than one-half globally. It further suggested that eradicating poverty and providing equitable and inclusive quality education for all are two intricately linked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

While some would argue that education can’t be seen as the panacea for poverty, we believe it is still a way to democratise power. Obtaining an education can be the key to disrupting the poverty cycle in families for generations. For instance, studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of education earn more money over their lifetimes than those with lower levels of education. Additionally, parents with higher education levels are more likely to provide a stable and nurturing home environment for their children that encourages them to pursue education. Education is also linked to better health outcomes, including lower rates of chronic disease and higher life expectancy. By improving health outcomes, individuals are better able to work and provide for their families.

Anjan Vij

Anjan Vij |

Need for Collaboration and Innovation in the Social Impact Space

Addressing generational poverty through education requires collaboration across sectors and stakeholders, such as partnerships between government, nonprofits, businesses, and communities. We can create truly inclusive solutions by ensuring that all individuals (including children) can sit at the table and contribute to the conversation. 

Furthermore, since the social impact space constantly evolves, we must leverage innovation to create new solutions to old problems. Technology, data, and creative thinking can be used to improve access to education and to create more equitable systems. These systems must be built alongside the citizen and community; that makes a difference in last-mile delivery of benefits.  

For example, in Andhra Pradesh, Indus Action, a non-profit and public policy ‘do-tank’, has been providing technical expertise to the state government in setting up and running the lottery and online registration process for RTE 12(1)(c), which ensures 25 per cent reservation in private unaided schools for children from weaker sections of society. The organisation also ran extensive campaigns across the state throughout the registration window to bring awareness to citizens about the act. Thus, we can enable better access to legislated rights by empowering individuals with the correct information and building the existing system’s capacity to absorb increased demand. 

To sum up, the sobering fact is that over 1.2 million children are currently out of school in India (2022-23). Many children are first-generation learners in their families, and by dropping out of school, they stand to lose the critical ingredient needed to break the cycle of poverty. This fact must serve as a wake-up call for action and a signal for more significant educational policies and investments.  

The author is Sr. Manager, Fundraising & Communications, Indus Action

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