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According to Global Issues, an organization that educates the public about world concerns, half the world, nearly three billion people, lives on less than two dollars a day (Global Issues). More and more children are being thrust into a deprived kind of environment every day. If measures are not taken to prevent this, tomorrow’s children will not have as many opportunities, benefits or the same quality of life in the future. Although poverty causes an abundance of problems, most can be thwarted simply by knowledge. Poverty is a worldwide tragedy that, without proper precautions, will continue to divide the world according to those who have and those who have not.

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Lack of education is one of the major causes of poverty (Oxfam.org.uk). The relationship between education and poverty reduction is very clear: educated people have higher income earning potential and are better able to improve the quality of their lives. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names (Global Issues). People with at least a basic education are more likely to avail themselves of a range of social services and to participate more actively in local and national governments through voting and community involvement. Children suffering in poor families are less likely to enroll in and complete schooling because of the additional costs of attending school even when it is said to be “free.” For example, the cost of uniforms,

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supplies, and transportation is usually too expensive for poor families to afford, especially when there are several children of school age. Children are often forced to drop out of school before any real solid education is achieved. Furthermore, dropping out of school because of poverty virtually guarantees continuation of the poverty cycle because the potential of the child earning any income is greatly reduced. Lack of education perpetuates poverty, and poverty constrains access to schooling. Eliminating poverty requires providing access to quality education before it is too late.

Another contributor to poverty is the scarcity of available occupations. Without a good number of reasonable occupations, families are unable to generate enough income to survive in today’s modern world. However, there are some acceptable jobs around. The problem is that poverty stricken families are just not educated enough to be eligible for any kind of position. Another issue that lessens the amount of available occupations is overpopulation. As more and more people enter the world everyday the number of obtainable jobs drops. Companies are going to have to start allowing more positions if this problem is to cease. It is a vicious cycle that people must strive to break.

The issue of overpopulation aids in the increase of poverty worldwide. Overpopulation is a serious problem getting worse every year: if we continue at

the current rate, population will double to over 11 billion by 2035. (World Population Organization) Overpopulation is the root of most, if not all, many environmental and economic issues, such as timber over-harvesting, loss of arable land, ocean depletion, food shortages, water shortages, air pollution, water pollution, flooding, plant and animal habitat loss, global warming and immigration. All of these issues allow the problem of poverty to fluctuate to even greater proportions. However, most countries cannot seem to agree on a reasonable solution to this so the population continues to expand. The world is growing by more than 76 million people a year. A minuscule fraction – only seven percent – of the world’s people live in countries where the population is not expanding. If fertility remains at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years (www.overpopulation.org).

In some countries, cultural beliefs can greatly influence a family’s risk of poverty. For example, in India, the caste system of social diversification according to spiritual development. Four levels of society were recognized based upon the four main goals of human beings and established society accordingly. These four groups were the Brahmins, the priests or spiritual class; the Kshatriya, the nobility or ruling class; the Vaishya, the merchants and farmers; and the Shudras or servants (www.hindunet.org). India still has these beliefs today. Once born into one of these caste, one’s position in them is permanent. For example,

people who are born as Shudras cannot ever be considered anything higher than a servant. People born at this level always suffer from extreme poverty although all low levels suffer to varying degrees. It is a system that cannot be broken, forcing people who may of had prosperous lives ahead of them into life threatening situations.

All of these situations can lead to major problems. Food and other resource shortages can be one of the most deadly of these. Hunger causes millions of people to die each year from starvation and diseases. Roughly 15-20 million more will die this year from starvation and approximately 20 million more will die from diseases caused by the lack of food and water. (Encarta, poverty facts, page 4) 15 million children under the age of five die each year from famine and resulting diseases. This breaks down to one million per month and 40,000 children everyday. Although most countries do have enough food to go around, many are still lacking. This can be because of a variety of reasons. The major ones are: Land and Environment: 70% of the world’s people live in rural areas which needs land. However, in a country such as the Philippines, 500 landowners own 137 million acres of rich land and seven million people are landless. Trade before People: Developing countries use much of their land to grow crops for export to have currency to pay off debts to world banks. Prices for such cash crops are controlled by major companies in developed countries. War: War

disrupts lives, uses up public monies, destroys infrastructure, creates refugees and displaces people from their homes and livelihoods. Natural Disasters: Many developing countries are prone to cyclones, floods and drought and when these do happen they simply do not have the money or infrastructure of government to clean up the mess and repair the damage. Large Companies: Major companies use their power to determine supply and price of commodities and dictate the rules of world trade. They operate only in countries where they can get the best tax deals, the cheapest labor and materials. Lack of Education: Today, 125 million kids are not enrolled in primary school. 150 million will leave school with no basic literary skills. With $US8 billion over the next 10 years, every child could be educated. That is equal to four days of global arms spending. Lack of Access to Resources and Power: Small farmers and families are daily deprived of the

resources they need to survive. These resources are land, credit, water, and access to markets. For example in the Philippines 70% of the arable land is owned by just 5% of the population. Burden of Debt: Immense payments on debt are flowing out of poor countries and into the banks of the rich ones. In Kenya for example, 65c of the Gross National Product goes to repay debt, yet four out of five children are malnourished (www.catholicmission.org.au). If these issues are not dealt with soon, they will grow, as will poverty rates.

Of the 850 million illiterate people in the world, about two-thirds are women. (Global Issues) This lack of education then leads to things such as sexual abuse, no awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, not knowing how to defend their own rights and etc. There are 9.8 million single parent mothers that have to work twice as hard to get through a day as that of a family with two parents (Single Parent Central). In the past decade the number of women living in poverty has increased disproportionately to the number of men, particularly in developing countries. The feminization of poverty has also recently become a significant problem in the countries with economies in transition as a short-term consequence of the process of political, economic and social transformation (United Nations). In addition to economic factors, women’s access to power, education, training and productive resources is often limited, especially in developing nations. The failure to insure equal rights for women is also an adding factor to poverty. Women contribute to the economy and to combating poverty through both remunerated and unremunerated work at home, in the community and in the workplace (United Nations). The empowerment of women is a critical factor in the eradication of poverty.

Organizations that help raise money and donate food greatly improve the lives of the poor. These funds allow most families to get an education and the basic necessities needed to survive. Governments also should realize that in order for

poverty to diminish, it should equally distribute money. Governments must also work to give equal rights to the “poor” as to the “rich” people. “We need a discussion about whether the rich world is giving back what it should in the developing world. I think there is a legitimate question whether we are.” — Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum, Feb. 2001. New government-funded organizations such as the IPRS are excellent ways of educationally telling the public about the issue of poverty. These organizations will hopefully give the world the wake-up call it needs to understanding the ever-growing threat of poverty.

Educational and economic developments are two major points that will help to prevent poverty (World Bank). People must teach families who fall into the “poverty status” how important education is to the betterment of their lives. All countries have economic development and jobs that can be filled everyday. The most important factor for averting poverty is education. People need to begin to stress education at a young age so children can learn that an education will lead them far in life. They need to be taught the up coming skills throughout their elementary, middle, and high school years that they can use later in life. With the proper skills and education, children reaching adulthood will have a much better chance of staying out of poverty. Economic factors can also be the variable that would lead to poverty. Families that receive low wages can barely

support their basic living costs. Thus they would not have enough money for programs that would aid their children’s education. Not having enough money for educational programs leads to the individual behavior of illiteracy and lower education. In turn this will lead to having low self-esteem because they know that they will basically be stuck in poverty for the rest of their lives. This is why economic development throughout the world is another contributing factor in preventing poverty. All countries need to keep their people in the labor force so they can earn money to afford the basic need of life. Without having the basic needs malnutrition, poor health, crime, drug use, mental illness, and starvation can occur. Governments need to emphasize citizen’s need for basic work skills, which will keep them employed and hopefully living above the poverty level. Everyone, poor or rich, needs a home, clothing, and food and if these measures are taken, the people of tomorrow will be able to have them.

Poverty is an issue which the world faces everyday. It is a constant struggle that cannot be ignored anymore. Defeating poverty will take great efforts and contributions from all. People must better educate the youth and ensure that education is available for everyone all over the world. We also need to ensure that everyone has a job and that they earn an amount substantial enough to live on. People need to realize that poverty affects everyone, not only the poor and

uneducated. Poverty is powerful force that, if not stopped soon, will have a devastating impact on the world as we know it.

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Kylie Garcia

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