Six weeks off at the end of the year in Australia feels like it does on for lifetime when you’re a school kid. It’s hot, there are blissful afternoons at the beach or sweating it out in the bush, or just mucking around on bikes and in the garden with your mates. The end of the summer holidays are greeted with the bittersweet anticipation of seeing all your friends at school again and for some reason, Mum and Dad look pretty chuffed about that too. Downright euphoric, in fact.
We’ve all been there – school that is. Some of us even enjoyed it. Looking back wistfully, any grown up will tell you they possibly took the opportunities school provided for granted. It all seems like a chore when you’re a child, but then you grow up and realise that quality education is one of the world’s most powerful wealth creators. Like no other intervention (aside from life-saving healthcare) it has a direct impact on economic growth and potential prosperity.
According to Children International, getting your kids involved in education during their early years means they are more likely to achieve a higher education and earn a larger wage as adults. A 2017 policy paper by UNESCO claimed world poverty could be cut in half if all adults completed a secondary education.
The Poverty Push
So: the answer to poverty is education? Yes, in part, but it isn’t that simple.
Poverty and education have a cause and effect relationship: a lack of education is the cause of poverty and it is also an effect of poverty. That’s why it is so easy to get stuck in a cycle of disadvantage.
Many children leave school early as their families cannot afford for them not to work. Others struggle through lessons without learning materials, food or a clean uniform. These kids often find it hard to concentrate, they feel left out, they can’t afford to immerse themselves in the experience like their peers. Excursions cost. Library fees cost. The Easter Hat Parade, Halloween dress ups, the disco, the class party, playing footy or netball – it all adds financial and time pressures for families who have neither to spare because they are working poor, or unable working at all.
Children who have a poor or non-existent education often don’t gain the qualifications to obtain higher paid jobs, and many experience bad health and poor nutrition, which further impacts their ability to work and make money.
The Impact in Australia
The picture painted in the paragraphs above sound like a land far, far away. If you haven’t experienced disadvantage, you may mistake the description for belonging to that of developing countries. According to The Smith Family, one in seven Australian children and young people live in poverty. An assessment of schools in 2017 found that Australian students from poorer families were trailing three years behind in schooling, compared to their richer peers.
Those children probably aren’t looking forward to going back to school after the holidays.
What can we do to support children through education?
You can do so much to support children realise their full potential through education. Given it is well documented that education is one of the biggest tipping points in overcoming systemic disadvantage, there are various charities with exemplary programs helping kids get the most out of their experience in the classroom.
You can donate directly to a charity that supports education, or donate via workplace giving if your employer is signed up.
Not sure who to donate to? Here are a list of charities with a focus on education on Good2Give’s Workplace Giving Platform. These terrific organisations work to ensure that no little ones are left out of learning. You can sign in here to give through your workplace giving program.
Your donation could be used to:
- Sponsor an individual child with essential life and learning needs.
- Support a family (because academic success is easier if you have a full belly, learning materials, a uniform and school transport).
- Support a school that is expanding its classrooms, focussing on girl’s education, or in need of some new desks.
- Fund a learning program to help with homework or provide a mentor.
Who knows, you may even see the children your support graduate from university one day.