The investment in the life of a child or a young person is not something that can be hurried. It requires a long term vision. It is becoming increasingly clear to us that Education is one of the fundamental keys to breaking the cycles that trap entire families in extreme poverty for generations. But as any teacher will tell you this is a labour of love that requires time and patience.
It begins with the smallest of children and navigates upwards along the steep, narrow, rocky winding and seemingly impossible road to higher education and beyond. But education is not only about learning to read and write it is about changing the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It is about enabling people to dream for themselves and for their children. It is about vision and hope and possibilities.
Many parents doubt the true value of education because they have never seen it lead to anything that they would recognise as a model of success. (e.g. a job). Some genuinely fear the possible consequences of their children going to school.Poverty makes the immediate need to put food on the table more urgent than the possibilities that school may bring of employment in a few years time.
Families have seen very few children get all the way through the education system to 8th grade and very very few reach high school so there are few positive role models.There are many stories of children being discriminated against, bullied or humiliated at school by other pupils or even teachers. A fear that is commonly voiced is that their children will be "taken" on their way home.There is also a financial cost for the family which is not small.
Buying clothes and shoes, a school bag, pens, crayons and books can be impossible for a family living in poverty, but if they have a large number of children (which is common) then it becomes impossible to provide for several children at the beginning of each term.Overcrowding and in many cases lack of water means that basic hygiene standards are low. Many children are not vaccinated because parents have not fully understood the importance of this and these factors combined with overcrowding means that when someone gets sick the consequences for the whole family can be serious.
This creates an additional fear of sending children to school if they don't have adequate clothes to face the winter months or where they may come into contact with other children who are ill and bring sickness back into the home.
A poor family may not have access to medical care because of a lack of proper documents but would usually not be able to afford the cost of medication which can be extremely high.