A PRI The World program noted that once known as “the murder capital of the world,” Juárez is still recovering from cartel violence and some on both sides of the border say they feel safer. Despite current politics surrounding immigration, people constantly flow back and forth on a daily basis. Some who ebb in and out of the yin-yang flow are students.
These students travel, each day, from Mexico to the US, all of to break the cycle of poverty.
Families living in extreme poverty see quality education as an impossible cost. Even public school carries costs, including books, uniforms, and transportation. Because parents have not experienced the increases in earnings, quality of life, and personal dignity that come from education, they don’t know what they are missing by pulling a child out of school to work instead. This is why it’s a cycle: children who grow up without education are less likely to send their own children to school.
By providing a quality education, a vicious cycle gets replaced. Instead of poverty sowing the seeds for still more poverty, education creates an environment that leads to opportunities and education for successive generations as well. Instead of leaving school to work, children have the chance to engage their intellectual curiosity, and live in a more stable society.
Children in poverty are less likely than middle-class children to develop basic educational skills before kindergarten. Too often, poor children have fewer early learning experiences. For example, poor and low-income children tend to live in homes with fewer books and less language stimulation.
If society wants to adopt a quality lifestyle for all children, then breaking the cycle of poverty requires investing in our children and ensuring they have nurturing and enriching experiences, including high-quality early care and educational opportunities.
Yet few politicians offer solid solutions.
Governors in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana and Wisconsin and Connecticut’s Democratic governor have proposed higher education cuts for the 2016 fiscal year. Higher education spending traditionally is a juicy target for budget cutters because schools can make up the lost revenue by raising tuition.
A day before jumping into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Governor Scott Walker signed a state budget that, among other things:
- Slashed $250 million from the University of Wisconsin;
- Expanded the state’s voucher program that uses public funds to pay for tuition at private schools, including religious schools — even though there is no evidence the program has helped improve student achievement; and
- A majority of public school districts in Wisconsin will receive less funding this year, and no school district’s state funding will keep up to inflation.
If the Buddhist principle that all things are connected is correct, then our own fate and the destiny of the world may be intimately bound up with the educational fate of the poor. No country has ever achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without first having at least 40 per cent of its adults able to read and write.
Statistics show why education is perhaps the most effective strategy to tackle poverty and is integrally linked to human, community and national development. When people have basic life and literacy skills, economies grow more quickly and poverty rates decline.
I remember a scene from Saving Private Ryan, where Captain John Miller said, “This Ryan better be worth it. He better go home and cure some disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb, or something.” From time I wonder if an errant drone strike destroyed the world’s chances to cure cancer? It is just me, or does anyone ever think some terrorist annihilated humanity’s best chance to defeat Alzheimer’s?
Decreasing poverty through education is very Buddhist and very Christian.