There’s no denying that poverty or a low income can dampen a student’s motivation. As much as they want to dream big, their families and quality of life keep reminding them of their reality. Worse, it’s sometimes their own parents who discourage them from aiming high.
It’s hard to fault low-income parents for doing that, though. Chances are they also had ambitions in their youth but were forced to abandon those so that they could focus on putting food on the table. That might’ve made them develop a kind of resentment, which they passed on to their children. If their children followed their footsteps, it would become a vicious cycle of trading big dreams for a small amount of money every day.
But refusing to break that cycle isn’t helping at all. Poverty or low income shouldn’t stop students from chasing their dreams. Every student deserves a chance to go to college, or to at least finish high school with amazing job opportunities awaiting them. And no parent should view education as a costly venture for children that will bear no fruit. Children can gain lots from studying; their parents just have to give them a chance.
Tuition-free Quality Education Exists
Many low-income parents might think that sending kids to school is too expensive. Though public schools can admit their kids for free, parents might still hesitate because of the other costs related to studying, like school projects, transportation, and daily allowances. But the costs for those are infinitesimal compared to the costs of denying them education.
Tuition-free schools, like public schools or charter schools, give low-income children access to high-quality learning material, opportunities for socializing, and opportunities for extra-curricular endeavors — things that children may not ever have if they never went to school, or quit school early. The pandemic isn’t also a reason not to send them to school. They can enroll in a reputable online charter school or online public school.
By the way, charter schools are different from public schools. A charter school is government-funded but independently run, while a public school is government-funded but state-run. As an independent institution, charter schools are exempt from many state laws and regulations that govern traditional public schools. But they are still overseen by an authorizer, which can be a state agency, a university, or a school district, depending on the state.
Veering back to the main subject, charter and public schools help poor and low-income students obtain a quality education that hones their skills, boosts their strengths, and prepares them for the real world. And by the real world, it doesn’t mean the reality they’re stuck in; rather, it’s the world that they can create from their ambitions.
Education Correlates to the Solutions to Poverty
According to UNESCO, if all students from developing countries had acquired just basic reading skills, around 17 million people could escape extreme poverty. Moreover, if all adults finished secondary education, we could reduce the global poverty rate by half.
Poor or low-income families may think themselves too poor to study, but in fact, studying can help them improve their quality of life. Education directly correlates with a number of solutions to poverty, including:
- Economic growth
- Decreased income inequality
- Decreased maternal and infant deaths
- Decreased stunting
- Decreased susceptibility to HIV and AIDS
- Decreased domestic and societal violence
Education can alleviate poverty because it develops skills and abilities that can make students suitable for higher-paying jobs, or entrepreneurship. It can fight inequality, such as women earning lower wages or being denied positions of power. When poor or low-income girls become educated, they can break toxic stereotypes and defy patriarchal standards.
Education is also reducing the risk and vulnerability. In many developing countries, conflict is present, which drives its population to poverty. Without education, impoverished communities will only become poorer, making it difficult for them to access quality healthcare. They’ll also be more likely to reproduce because of a lack of access to birth control. And if inequality and uneducated people continue to breed, violence is more likely to spring.
Educational Institutions Can Support Poor or Low-income Students
If families can’t encourage their children to dream big, their schools can. They can challenge their poor or low-income students by placing high expectations upon them. High expectations motivate students to perform at their best, despite their socioeconomic status.
Schools can also expose students outside the classroom, opening up a world of possibilities for them. From museums, art galleries, national parks, and other places, students can discover their passion. It’ll allow them to pave a path toward their dream careers.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, schools can provide a more positive environment for students. In the classroom and around the campus, students can make friends or join organizations. The relationships they form can also be their motivation to chase their dreams. So by the time they grow up, they’d already know how much they’re capable of, and they’ll be unstoppable.