Effects of Poverty on Education in India

Education is one of the primary needs besides the food, shelter and clothing in modern life. The Constitution of India has granted right to live with dignity and honor to every citizen. To ensure this fundamental right the State has been taking several measures. Prominent among them are universalization of compulsory and free primary education to all children of school age. Further, right to follow and propagate the faith and religion of one’s own free will and choice. While the formal (education) is a tool for ensuring right to live with dignity and honor the later (to follow and propagate the faith of one’s own free will) is a pre-requisite environment in a multi-religious secular country like India.

Education is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and unemployment, improving health and nutritional standard, and achieving sustainable development. Within the formal education system, primary education is recognized as a basic human right and significant for the development of both the individual as well as the society. Significance of education cannot be neglected. Education acts as the catalyst, which brings economic, social, cultural as well as technological changes in the society. It is considered to be the most important means of
enhancing personal attributes, overcome constraints, availing more opportunities for sustainable improvement in well-being. Education has been identified as one of the most important determinants of economic growth. It is both, an indicator and an instrument of development. It
increases labor productivity in both urban and rural sectors and the economic return to investment in education are typically high. With the increased level of education, the economic output increases, poverty is reduced, thus the whole of the region is developed which leads to the overall development of the nation. The return from education is not only economic but also social. Education alters the way of thinking, behavior and attitude, increases awareness, develops personality for the development of the country and welfare for its people. Poverty affects many people. But, arguably, the effects of poverty are seen most in children. And, with 1.21 billion people living below the poverty line in India, the children are sure to bear the repercussions of it. Not only does poverty affect a child’s development and educational outcomes, it also severely affects a child’s morality and understanding of the right and wrong, as they are denied access to the basic fundamental rights of children laid down in the Constitution of India.

Child Development-
Often associated to food insecurity, children living below the poverty line are at an increased risk for becoming both malnourished and overweight. This can highly affect a child’s confidence. Moreover, evidence suggests that many of the effects of poverty on children are often added to by their families. As they have limited education, it reduces their ability to provide a responsive stimulating environment for their children. They tend to limit a child’s linguistic environment by using a language that is dominated by commands, instead of explanations and elaboration on what is good and bad. Mostly, these commands are also backed by negative comments, which further contribute to demoralizing the child. In addition, parents living below the poverty line tend to use harsh parental styles that are based on parental control, rather than reciprocal interactive styles that promote emotional development.

Education begins at home. In fact, many studies suggest that, being read to in the first few years of a child’s life contributes to the development of phonemic and comprehension skills. However, children from families living below the poverty line are less likely to be read to, highly restricting proper growth of their skills. Moreover, parents who have not received a proper education tend to underestimate the importance of education, are hesitant to “waste‟ money on schools. And, even those children that do attend schools have to face taunts and are often treated as outcastes as the present generation children do not accept anyone if they are not from their strata of the society.


India, which now has the world’s third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, has been an urban-cantered, industrializing nation since its independence in 1947. Over the last 25 years, India has been noted for its significant economic growth which looks to continue for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year with an expected growth rate of 7.2 percent. While India has maintained much economic success, many failures and weaknesses still debilitate the nation’s full potential. For example, the poverty rate in India has been less severe in recent years, but there is still much room for improvement. In 2016, 270 million Indians were surviving on $1.90 or less a day, the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty. Of the people living in these conditions, 80 percent lived in rural India, where the main source of income for the population is through casual labor. While the economy has appeared to have boomed over the last 25 years, most growth has
been in urban areas where large multinational corporations, such as IBM and Microsoft, base their software development headquarters. With this divide between urban and rural life, the economic growth does not seem to remove the issues of extreme poverty in the way a neoliberal
economist would suggest. A study in 2002 found that these conditions in India are partially due to educational poverty, which is defined as the deprivation of basic education and literacy. Only 6% of the income from poor households is invested into education and health, while the
majority is spent on other necessities such as food and fuel.

With the extreme poverty rate in India falling from 53.86 percent in 1983 to 21.23 percent in 2011, the World Bank strongly believes that education is a powerful instrument for poverty reduction. While the reductions in the extreme poverty rate in India over the past 20 years in India are not due solely to educational improvements, the investment in enhancing basic education has had a significant impact on the poverty rate in India. Although India’s literacy and education rates remain poor on a global scale, the recent achievements of the SSA are far greater than those previously undertaken, as the program was implemented throughout all districts of India. However, there is still more work to be done. A recent survey shows that half of government schools in India have no teaching activity and low student progression rates. For the nation to truly eradicate extreme poverty, quality education must be promoted.


A) Unemployment – another major economic factor that is causative of poverty in the country is the rising unemployment rate. Unemployment rates is high in India and according to a 2015 survey data, at the all-India level, 77% of families do not have a regular source of income.

B) Unequal distribution of assets – with the economy changing directions rapidly, the earning structure evolves differently in different economic income groups. Upper and middle income groups see a faster increase in earnings than lower income groups. Also assets like land,
cattle as well as realty are distributed disproportionately among the population with certain people owning majority shares than other sectors of the society and their prompts from these assets are also unequally distributed. In India it is said that 80% wealth in the country is
controlled by just 20% of the population.

C) Demographic- The main factor that contributes to poverty-ridden state of the country from a demographical point of view is the problem of over population. The growth of population in the country has so far exceeded the growth in economy and the gross result is that the poverty
figures have remained more or less consistent. In rural areas, size of the families is bigger and that translates into lowering the per capita income values and ultimately lowering of standard of living. Population growth spurt also leads to generation of unemployment and that means diluting out of wages for jobs further lowering income.

D) Poor Agricultural Infrastructure –Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. But outdated farming practices, lack of proper irrigation infrastructure and even lack of formal knowledge of crop handling has affected the productivity in this sector tremendously. As a consequence there is redundancy and sometimes complete lack of work leading to decreased wages that is insufficient for meeting daily needs of a laborer’s family plunging them into poverty.

E) Inflation and Price hike – the term Inflation may be defined as an increase in prices of commodities coinciding with the fall in the purchasing value of money. As a direct consequence of inflation, effective price of food, clothing items as well as real estate rises. The salaries and wages do not rise as much in keeping up with the inflated prices of commodities leading to effective decrease of the per capita income.

F) Outdated Social Customs – Social customs like the caste system cause segregation and marginalization of certain sections of the society. Certain castes are considered untouchables still and are not employed by upper caste, leaving very specific and low paying jobs that
they can live off.

G) Corruption – despite considerable efforts from the government in the forms of various schemes to mollify the poverty situation, allegedly only 30-35% actually reaches the beneficiaries due to wide-spread practices of corruption in the country. Wealthy people with privileged connection are able to acquire more wealth simply by bribing government officials to maximize their profits from such schemes while the poor remain in a state of neglect for not being able to assert such connections.

H) Lack of skilled labor – lack of adequate vocational training makes the huge labor force available in India largely unskilled, which is unsuitable for offering maximum economic value. Lack of education, much less higher education, is also a contributing factor towards this.

Poverty, health, sanitation and the need for education are the focus areas of round table India, a social organization. Education Is the Way Out of Poverty. Throughout my career, I have maintained one constant, overriding belief Education is the ultimate equalizer, and
the surest route out of poverty. Yet, our school system continues to fail students whose talents lie outside of the traditional academic sphere. Some point are given below which are eradicate of poverty through education, like-

A) Prepare Students for Real Life- The choice of extracurricular activities available to students could be widened to include business clubs and internship programs, staffed by community volunteers. If educators are prepared to incorporate these practical considerations into the curriculum, tomorrow’s students will have a far better chance of creating successful businesses capable of competing globally in an era of hyper-connectivity. Jumping through the academic hoops of one exam after another is not the hallmark of a successful education; rather, young people should be leaving school equipped with the lifelong skills needed to flourish in the real world. We have been failing urban and rural schools in this regard for decades, with untold consequences. If we stand any chance of improving our schools, fighting inequality, and positioning young Americans at the forefront of the global business world, we must start by ensuring that we are delivering a practical and forward-looking education for all.

B) Cultural Responsiveness- Today’s one-size-fits-all system is sorely lacking in cultural responsiveness. By establishing a classroom environment more focused on passing tests than developing real-world skills, the educational establishment is harming urban education. Instead, schools d offer a varied curriculum, which caters to students who have a range of interests, including those whose needs are not met by a traditional academic program. As a starting point, we must seek to build broader character development into the curriculum by integrating entrepreneurial and leadership skills into day-to-day study. Doing so would not require a significant overhaul of existing practices, nor would it demand.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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