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Education and Poverty: Inversely Proportional Signifiers

The study discusses the relationship between education and poverty or social exclusion is multifaceted. However, it has been seen in many circumstances that poverty has an inversely proportional relationship with signifiers of education such as literacy rate, it has also been evidenced that there has been a great deal of poverty alleviation due to the increase in access to education. Therefore, a complication in the relationship between education and poverty can be found. On the other hand, social inclusion itself has a dynamic definition. The definition of this phenomenon can vary with the space-time continuum.

In simple terms, social exclusion in terms of education can mean that, in most cases, an educational institution does not have provisions for communities such as the specially abled or people on the autism spectrum. It has also been evidenced that there is a great deal of discrimination in the education sector in terms of one's access to wealth or one's level on the social mobility ladder. A clear difference can be found in most education systems, especially in developing countries; between the haves and have not which harms the children who are enrolled in the education institution. This report elaborates on the relationship between poverty, social exclusion, and education, along with how they all have an impact on each other. In this regard, the report provides various contrasting case examples, theoretical viewpoints, and statistical illustrations in support of the thesis that “there is a need for a holistic, inclusive education system that focuses on access as well as the well-being of all irrespective of their level of poverty or their social standing”.   

Poverty is defined as the state of being extremely poor. It is the state of possessing few materials or very little income.  In other words, it is defined as the state of an individual who is devoid of general material possession or a socially acceptable sum of money. Poverty is seen to be present when an individual lacks the means to fulfill the basic needs of living (Oum, 2019). Furthermore, poverty can be defined as a social condition that is determined by the unavailability of the necessary resources to meet a certain minimum degree of living standards for the place where an individual lives.

In the school environment of different places in the world, social exclusion is increasing as a form of bullying students who are comparatively weaker than others (Preece, 2018). This kind of manipulation creates harm to the victim student’s social status and relationship. Social exclusion in a student’s life comes as a form of exclusion from peer groups, spreading rumors about things that they do not, embarrassing them differently. For example - in Australia, 1 out of 6 students complain that they are to be victimized by social exclusion (Bouillet and Domovi?, 2021). This social exclusion not only resists students’ personal growth but also creates an embarrassment to their parents as they have some serious tension about the life of their child.

Both poverty and social exclusion have a significant impact on the educational systems and facilities in a country. Before knowing the impact of these two factors on education, it is important to know why the citizens of a country should care about this matter. The reason is that education is a basic human right that is highly responsive to enabling people to live a healthy life and, in turn, contribute to the development of their community or society (Liu et al. 2021). Lack of access to education serves as a major determinant of the flow of poverty from one generation to the next. Consequently, receiving education acts as one of the best and most effective ways to combat poverty and achieve financial stability. Hence, both education and poverty are directly interlinked to each other. Millions of children in the world cannot attend school because they sustain life at less than $1.90 per day (, 2020). Below are discussed some of the most important impacts of poverty on education in a country:

Poverty Alleviation Due to Increase in Access to Education

Poverty greatly impacts the sustenance of a family due to extremely low income. Hence, meeting the basic needs of survival becomes the most important concern for the family. As a result, most of the family members start working in some way or the other to earn a little amount of money and fulfill their daily requirements. This also includes children, and they are also sent to various works such as construction, managing restaurants, cleaning the location, etc. (Parkes, 2020) Providing education to the children in such families becomes a way secondary concern, and they do not think about it. For example, the Sub-Saharan countries have the poorest children in the world, and schools remain too costly for the poor families in the country. However, currently, the new education rule in the region has abolished the school fees for such children. The ratio of the students completing their lower secondary education increased in the area from 23% in 1990 to 42% in 2014 (, 2020). Still, the enrollment is low compared to the 75% worldwide ratio.

 Global Education Ratio

Figure: Global Education Ratio

(Source: Our World in Data. 2022)

Poverty acts as one of the most significant barriers to the education of the girl child. According to the World Bank, it acts as one of the most important determinants for whether a girl child will be sent to school or not. Families suffering from poverty can still think of sending their sons to school, but not their daughters. It is still expected that around 15 million girls will never get the blessing of education, while the estimation for boys is around 10 million for the same (, 2020). Gender inequality is more prevalent in low-income countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. Women are often not paid for their work, have a smaller number of properties, and are highly exposed to gender violence and discrimination. Hence, they are highly subjected to early marriage, which restrains them from all the abilities to contribute to societal development (Calder, 2019).

Child marriage is one of the biggest reasons to prevent the girl child from education. More than 650 million women globally were already married under 18 years because they were treated as a major economic burden in their families (, 2020). This is a very common and regressive concept in developing countries still now. Around 37.4% of women are still married between 18 and 20 years in this country, and nearly 53% of daughters between 6 and 14 years do not get an education in India currently (Hick and Lanau, 2018). Again, the poverty trajectory of the UK has identified that the poverty level in early childhood is around 13.4% in the UK and in the late childhood it is 5%, the persistent poverty level in the UK is 19.4%, the people have never been in poverty is 62.4%(Laiet al., 2019).  The percentage shows that the UK is a developing country in terms of poverty and the experienced a lesser number of poverties compared to other less developed countries.

Social Inclusion: A Dynamic Definition

Though, in the education sector, many children are being socially excluded by their classmates, while some education sectors themselves make broad discriminate between children who are not physically or mentally stable with those who are normal (Juyaniet al. 2022). Different researches and surveys support that differentiation with peers sometimes cannot be handled by many children, and they become depressed and anxious toward their families and other people with whom they interact. It has a profound impact on the education they are taking from institutions. After home, adolescence spends most of their time in schools and colleges. Hence, these friends should be closer to them, and they might be expected to be supporters. If these friends make a clear difference between them with the one who is socially excluded from them, then it is obvious that the adolescence cannot be able to focus more on their education that is given in the classes by teachers (Smith et al. 2019).

It is a harmful effect on their growth and lasts along. Adolescence is a period when children start to become independent from their parents and families. During this time, a dependency on the peer groups remains clear in the minds of the children, and if this peer group starts discrimination, then they face a problematic situation where depression, stress, and anxiety become common factors. In the context of emotion, their brains remain active, and they cannot tolerate the rejection of peer groups (Zehntner et al. 2021). Girl children in different countries are also being socially excluded from peer groups in schools due to having various perceptions like girls’ cannot do things that boys can do. Inequality in genders is the main reason for this social exclusion.

In 2020, around 24.2% of children were socially excluded for multiple reasons from the EU (Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion - Statistics Explained, 2022). Adolescence becomes emotionally, socially, and physically disturbed due to social exclusion. The social exclusion concept can be defined easily by the marginalization theory, which was first introduced by Robert Park (Mukherji, 2018). Marginalization can be described as a process where someone is pushed to remain beyond the entire group where he or she might deserve to stay. Millions of people in the world are suffering in their regular lives due to marginality. They forcefully remain beyond the society where they live. Due to this marginalization, they cannot be able to receive quality education like others (Peleman et al., 2020). According to the theory, due to this marginalization, adolescence kept them away from social gatherings, all types of happiness that they might enjoy like others.

In terms of education, everyone has the right to get equal education facilities. However, there are many educational institutions available in different countries, especially in OECD countries. The institution itself marginalizes those students who are compared as weaker physically and mentally than others (Greenwood et al. 2018). A minor group of people also remain socially excluded from the institutions. Thus, the students of these institutions learn to make differentiation from the school itself, and it increases normal students' courage, and they continue with a perception that physically and mentally weaker people can be bullied. This has become an increasing issue all over the globe, and for this reason, serious measures like finding a way to respect those who are specially abled (Shola et al. 2020).        

Discrimination in Education Sector

 Social exclusion in the EU

Figure: Social exclusion in the EU

(Source: Ec.europa.EU. 2022)

A quality education system greatly supports a child’s development in terms of emotional, social, communication, and cognitive skills. Effective education programs also help children develop their knowledge and abilities, which are the basic human assets. When they receive such qualities in primary education, they can easily develop these assets at a higher education level. They can use these assets in the future to earn higher incomes and develop other human assets (Kwilinski et al., 2020). Hence, education prevents child labor in the manner of providing them with the opportunity of developing their skills and abilities and sustaining a better life. For example, the UN had designed 17 Global Goals to address extreme poverty situations by 2030. Global Goal 4: Quality Education is aimed at ending poverty through education in all forms throughout the country (, 2020).

According to the neoliberal theory, the government takes effective measures to provide education to the people in a community. The UN government has greatly supported its people and the young generation to receive the necessary education. It believes that providing education to all its minor community citizens free of cost would greatly help the country fight the current state of poverty (Oum, 2019).

Education acts as a great solution to increasing gender inequality in poor and developing countries. Education is for all, and the girl child is equally welcomed to education as the boy child. By providing quality education to the girl child, the economic development of a country becomes more rapid and efficient, which, in turn, eradicates poverty (Serneels and Dercon, 2021). Various steps have been taken to implement girl child education in the community. For example, Afghanistan has developed a community-based Education Program for all the students (including girls) in the rural areas to attend the classes near to their homes. In the past decade, the number of primary school enrollment for the girl child in Afghanistan has surged greatly (Parkes, 2020). According to current statistics, around 46% of girls attend primary schools in Afghanistan. However, less than 25% of girls attended school after 12 years of age, for which the country introduced the above-mentioned solution (, 2020). The Afghanistan government has also taken these essential measures, which align with the neoliberal theory of poverty. It has implemented equal educational opportunities for both the girl and boy child and made it mandatory for the families to educate their girl child till 18 years minimum (Liu et al. 2021).  

  Afghanistan Poverty Ratio

Figure: Afghanistan Poverty Ratio

(Source:, 2022)

As it is mentioned above that, at home children used to live most of their time in the education sector (Preece, 2018). Hence, their family, schools, and other educational institutions can only improve their struggle of being socially excluded. In terms of schools, teachers and the higher authority of the school are required to take the initiative and teach students what is called equal behavior and what is misbehavior as well. The feelings and emotions of others should be respected by students, and they must be taught at the beginning of their lives (Bouillet and Domovi?, 2021). During the adolescence period, what is good and bad should be taught, and the lesson should be given like how to make the differentiation between good and bad. Learning how to protest unlawful behavior is an important thing. These all aspects must be taught by teachers so that discrimination will not become a big issue for the specific institution (Juyaniet al., 2022). The higher authorities have to make sure that every teacher in the education sector teaches students to respect others, openness, and stop unjust behaviors. A regular class can be specified in the educational institution so that in that class, teachers teach students about morality, ethics, and principles of life.

Impact of Poverty on Education

If any specially-abled children read in the class, the class should be taught how to work in a group with the person by not mentioning their name (Smith et al. 2019). Discrimination in class should not be allowed, and teachers make sure that specially-abled children receive all the facilities that others usually get. By taking these initiatives, teachers can help in reducing injustice to socially excluded children. If teachers become strict in order to maintain social exclusion in the institution, then it is obvious that students will learn how their behavior will be acceptable and for what kind of behavior they will be punished (Zehntner et al. 2021).   

Global access to basic education 

Figure: Global access to basic education

(Source: UNESCO, 2019)


It is to conclude that poverty and social exclusion have a significant impact on the educational systems in a country. The presence of poverty prevents the people from enjoying the educational facilities to a major extent. It results in increased child labor, gender discrimination, and unemployment within the country, due to which the overall economic development of the country gets adversely affected. Education helps individuals gain significant knowledge and become confident about themselves. It helps them provide better job opportunities and contribute to the societal development of a population. In terms of social exclusion, education helps in providing the deserving respect and value to a specific social category, such as the minor community. It increases their chances of social participation, which, as a result, increases their acceptance in society.


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