Education is greatly interlinked with economic status either directly or indirectly. Over the past few years, this gap has narrowed comparatively but had not yet become nil. It is important to close this gap; without education, a country cannot progress. Often people from financially weak backgrounds tend to not send their children to school as firstly, they cannot afford the expenses and secondly, sending their children off to work would bring them an extra bit of money. So, the majority of children drop out at an early age. They work as labourers and never have the opportunity to earn and live better due to lack of education.
Several international forums have said intervention on the part of government and NGO’s can be beneficial. In 2003, Canada, one in every six children lived in poverty. In India, the ratio is much higher. But the growth of literacy in the past decade has been miraculous. Government schools are giving mid day meals along with free education. Government colleges and universities are offering scholarships and free medical treatment to the economically weak students.
If for generations or for a long time a person or a family has been economically disadvantaged, it negatively affects their social behaviour as well as the desire to learn anything new. This becomes a huge disadvantage. The children who are poor cannot mix freely with economically stable ones. They feel shy and incapable and soon become drop outs. This is not a unique case, but entire communities go through it. The six poverty related factors are; the incident of poverty, the depth of poverty, the duration of poverty, the timing of poverty (that is the age of the child), community characters and the impact of poverty on the child’s psyche.
In mid-1980’s, the Ontario Child Health Study found that a connection could be made between the economically disadvantaged and people with psychiatric disorders, social and academic functioning and chronic health problems. The survey revealed that children from lower income households score considerably lower in vocabulary, numbers, communication skills and concentration than children from richer households. Living in extreme conditions leaves a negative impact on a child.
The home is the first place to shape a child. To be school ready, a child should be both physically and psychologically fit. This would help in the motor development and make them emotionally stronger. Poverty affects a child’s health, home life, schooling and his overall personality. The parents focus more on earning a living than the social development of the child. Frequently it is noticed that the parents lack support themselves and thus are incapable of supporting their children. Both parenting style and parental involvement should be supervised.
One of the oldest and most successful intervention programmes is the Chicago Child Parent Centre Programme (CPC). The Chicago Child Parent Centre Programme is a centre based study and intervention that provides complete support to the financially backward children and their families from preschool level to elementary school level. This program started in 1967. It provides grants to local public schools to uplift economically backward children. These include preschool training, training for teachers, small classes for better interaction, and finally free food and health services. It initially started with only 4 schools, but now it has extended to 25 schools in Canada. The target students were between preschool and grade three. The curriculum was not water tight. It was designed as per the need of individual children. It was a major success.
Poverty in India is an undeniable reality. The colonial rule for over two centuries has left India in ruins. The famines of the 1920s and 1943 had killed millions. After the independence, the situation became better, the famines stopped. There has been a rapid economic growth since the 1990s. Yet in 2012, 22% of the Indian population was below poverty level. The government of India has taken some serious steps for educating the masses, especially girls, like Kanyasree Udyog, Beti Bachao and more.
However, these steps should not only be taken by organisations but also individuals. If every citizen cares for the children in their household, to begin with, then the poor children will get a much better scope. The help need not be financial, emotional support also means a lot to them. The children should not feel that their presence disgusts rich people or else their mental development would be hampered. Every child, every youth should receive the education he deserves.
By: Payel Roy