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12 Facts about Poverty and Education

Worldwide, poverty is one of the leading reasons children do not receive an education.  Ironically, education is one of the leading ways to break the chain of poverty. 

  • With one billion children in the world, 50% of the childhood population lives in poverty.

  • About 80% of children live below or near the poverty line. 

  • About 25% of the children in the world, live in extreme poverty.

  • Worldwide about 8-10% of children never attend school, often due to chronic malnutrition. 

  • The rate of unschooled girls is 2.5 times higher than unschooled males.

The figures in the U.S. are also sobering. 

  • Of about 16 million school age children, 20% live in poverty.

  • 49% of families are living below or near the poverty line. 

  • 51% of U.S. students are considered “low income,” for the first time, a majority of school children in America.

For each year of schooling,

  • an individual’s income potential increases by around 10 percent. 

  • For girls that figure is nearly 20%. 

  • Almost a third of children world-wide are not in school due to war or violent conflicts, yet studies have shown that education greatly reduces the percentage of war and conflict.

  • WE Charity says that $26 billion more spent on education each year would give every person a basic education, which is “less than five percent of what the U.S. military spent in 2015.”

While perhaps we can’t “fix” education globally, and there are many differing political views on how to finance schools, the facts are the facts, and our democratic society depends on informed citizenry to participate in our system of government.  With critical funding lacking in many schools, are we giving every child an equal opportunity to succeed?  Almost half of the states in the U.S. use a regressive funding formula to finance schools and thus, those schools that have less, will continue to receive less. According to sources, half the states in the U.S. currently fund schools at a per capita rate that is lower than it was prior to 2000. 

In addition to holding politicians accountable for school funding formulas, there are ways to reach out to assist globally.   A recent trip to a developing country made me more aware both of the overwhelming need for more educational opportunities, especially for girls, and the opportunities that abound for those who wish to get involved.  Mission Haiti Inc., is but one of the organizations seeking to be the change that is needed in global education.  There are countless groups seeking to change the face of poverty and education in the U.S. and globally.  Why is this important?  Because every child deserves a chance for their tomorrow to be brighter than today.


Global Partnership for Education

Kids Count Data Center

The Borgen Project

World Bank Data