Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

Many children are blessed with the opportunity to go to class every day and learn new things. But for 246 million children worldwide, this is an unattainable dream. 

Poverty and education are closely intertwined. The more education one has, the more likely it is to increase income or pull a family out of poverty. But the paradox is this: those in poverty are less likely to go to school to build the income they need to get out of poverty. Plus, most children who are out of school live in countries where getting access to a high-quality education is already challenging. This only makes it harder to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Why is it hard for children in poverty to go to school?

1. Lack of quality schools in the area

While it may seem simple to just enroll children in school, it’s much more challenging than that. The reality is that most children who struggle to get access to education live in areas around the world where the sound quality of schools is hard to come by or out of reach with high tuition fees. 

According to the United Nations, 260 million children were out of school in 2018. That number is now even higher during a global pandemic. It is estimated that COVID-19 has washed away 20 years’ worth of progress by keeping children at home. Students who do not have access to remote learning or live in poverty will not be learning anything while at home. In 2020, 1.6 billion children were out of school and creating more significant gaps in learning. 

Untrained teachers, poor sanitation facilities, lack of resources, and makeshift classrooms make it harder and harder for students to continue past primary school years. In schools where sanitation facilities are lacking, girls who hit puberty and menstruate do not have a safe space to relieve themselves and therefore end their school careers early. 

Other children are too sick, hungry, or tired to go to school after copious amounts of household duties. The inconsistent attendance makes it harder for gaps to be closed and students to succeed as they lack foundations to tackle more complex topics in school and life. 

As a result, 617 million children and adolescents worldwide lack the literacy and mathematics skills to help them succeed in the real world and be active citizens in society. With COVID-19 causing school disruptions and closures, more and more children will continue to fall through the cracks, especially those who lack the resources to learn remotely. 

Human Concern International is committed to ensuring children have access to high-quality education without the price of sacrificing family. Through our Giving Back program, we are funding 15 schools in some of the most vulnerable communities. Check out our Giving Back page to see how HCI breaks down barriers with our remote learning center in Rohingya. 

2. Disadvantaged children are affected the most

In addition to poor quality schooling, the lack of support in these schools specifically singles out the weakest of societies. The lack of proper resources in schools also creates a greater inequity for children living with disabilities or in remote or conflict zones. Lack of space, resources, and discrimination creates rifts for children living with disabilities and ultimately will decide to stay home and drop out of school. Those that do without the help they need end up not meeting their learning needs, which effectively places them in the same position as children who did not attend school, to begin with. Conflict zones have also resulted in inaccessible schooling. In 2017, 4 million refugee children did not go to school. Globally, 27 million children do not go to school due to conflict and war. 

3. Women with lower education tend to continue the cycle with their children

Education is powerful in changing the lives of women and girls. As the African proverb goes, “if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Women are gatekeepers to their families’ wellbeing. Educating mothers increases the likelihood of breaking the cycle of poverty for their children. Women who graduated secondary school are more likely to:

  • Generate a source of income for her family: Research shows that one extra year of schooling can increase income by 10%. 
  • Use best health practices: Mothers who understand best practices, such as vaccinations and good nutrition habits, keep children healthy and avoid infant mortality.
  • Maintain good hygiene: Good hygiene at home promoted by mothers help to avoid diseases that keep children out of school.
  • Encourage her children to attend school: Many mothers who don’t have an education like to keep children at home more often to help with chores around the house.

We understand the value of educating women and girls. The Giving Back program has already sponsored 3,300 women with scholarships to lift their families out of poverty.

So what is being done?

The solution to getting children out of poverty and achieving an education is to build pathways to accessible, high-quality education everywhere. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all” by 2030.

Human Concern International is dedicated to ensuring that every child we serve has access to education to empower them to succeed and get closer to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. 

Our Giving Back program will improve access to schools by:

  • Providing students and families with a school bag and school supplies
  • Sponsor students’ tuition with scholarships for higher education
  • Support the needs of students with special needs, such as blind and deaf children
  • Provide access to schools for refugees with Mobile Classrooms.

Plant the seed of education for children and families today, and the fruits of your efforts will be a bright future for a child out of poverty. 


HCI has been proudly serving the Muslim community for 40 years, and through your generosity and support, our programs are continuously improving the lives of many vulnerable people. Each donation made enables us to further the mission of taking impoverished people from crisis to sustainability.

October 4th, 2021

Human Concern International

Ottawa, Canada

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In The Field

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