The concept of educational poverty first appeared in the literature during the 1990s, and has since been taken up by nongovernmental organizations (particularly Save the Children) and governments in shaping policies for children and adolescents.
A child is subject to educational poverty when his or her right to learn, train, develop skills and competencies, and cultivate his or her aspirations and talents is deprived or compromised. Thus, it is not merely an impairment of the right to study, but the lack of educational opportunities at its core: from those related to cultural enjoyment to the right to play and sports activities; lack of opportunities that negatively affects the child’s growth. Generally concerns children and adolescents living in disadvantaged social contexts, characterized by family hardship, employment insecurity and material deprivation.
Since this is a complex phenomenon, it is not easy to give a synthetic measurement of it. Indeed, educational poverty concerns several dimensions (cultural opportunities, schooling, social relations, educational activities) that must be kept in relation to each other.
A useful approach to begin measuring the incidence of educational poverty is to measure levels of absolute poverty with reference to a more or less broad territory, as well as the percentage of people at risk of poverty or exclusion.
These data do not provide a clear “snapshot” of the incidence of educational poverty, but they can help us create a context, knowing that educational poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon that depends on, among other factors, a situation of material deprivation and social exclusion and itself is a cause of exclusion and poverty.
According to performance’s results coming from countries and economies that participated in PISA 2018, the most reliable predictor of a child’s future success at school – and, in many cases, of access to well-paid and high-status occupations – is his or her family. Children from low-income and low-educated families usually face many barriers to learning. Less household wealth often translates into fewer educational resources, such as books, games and interactive learning materials in the home.
Barriers in accessing higher levels of education, may translate into a lack of knowledge about the world that gravitates around the concepts of sustainability and food waste, as well as climate change. They are perceived as irrelevant issues, far removed from the “practicality” of everyday life.