Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Your support can make a difference—not just for this generation but for those still to come.

258 Million Children Do Not Attend School

What would your life look like without higher education or an apprenticeship?

What would it look like without a high school education?

Without a primary education?

Or without any education at all?

This is the very real, present reality for 258 million children around the world who are currently out of school. Most of these children are from developing countries where poverty, or factors caused by it, are the primary reason for their lost education. According to UNESCO, “20 per cent, or 12 million, of all primary-age out-of-school children have never attended school and will probably never start if current trends continue.”

Education is a critical component in breaking the generational cycle of poverty but remains inaccessible for millions of children.

Through education, children learn the skills and knowledge they need for a better future. Yet for millions the cost is too high, the closest school is too far away, the journey too dangerous, they don’t have the proper documentation to attend or have been forced into child labour or marriage and leave school. Even for those who do attend, under-resourced teachers, inadequate learning material and unsuitable facilities create additional difficulties in receiving a quality education.

And this is before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blog C: Covid-19 and Education

The Impact of COVID-19 on Education

In Australia and most other developed nations, when schools closed, education was swiftly moved to digital platforms. Though it resulted in significant challenges for many families, most children were still able to continue their education in some capacity.

This was not the case in the developing world.

At least 463 million school children globally could not access remote learning programs during COVID-19 school closures.

Some countries were able to deliver remote learning via radio or television, but many families living in poverty don’t even have electricity. Internet, and the benefits it has brought during the pandemic, remains a luxury most cannot afford.

Globally, school closures lasted an average of 224 days. But in low- and middle-income countries, this period was up to three times as long and the response was less effective.

Even when children could return to school, only 10 per cent in low-income countries had access to adequate soap, clean water and masks compared to 96 per cent in high-income countries, according to the World Bank. As a result, children already disadvantaged in their learning opportunities were hampered even further by the pandemic. Worse, as families reached dire financial situations, the rates of child marriage and labour began to climb.

Without a quality education, children are far more likely to be trapped as adults in low-skilled, poorly paid and insecure employment, preventing them from breaking intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.

Children from families living in extreme poverty are less likely to start school. If they do, they’re less likely to finish their education. Individuals who already suffer disadvantage due to poverty, gender, ethnicity or disabilities have reduced education opportunities, keeping them trapped in their circumstances.

Education can Eliminate Poverty

Education Can Eliminate Poverty

Poverty most consistently predicts failing to complete schooling.

The cycle of poverty is handed down from one generation to the next. As a result, the education received by a parent can significantly impact the opportunities available for their children.

A report published by the World Bank explains, “In nearly all countries, students’ family backgrounds—including parental education, socioeconomic status, and conditions at home (such as access to books)—remain the largest predictors of learning outcomes.” By ensuring the current generation of children receive a quality education, the impact will then flow down into the next generation and those that follow.

In fact, research from UNESCO shows that if those aged 15 years or older received just two more years of schooling, it would lift nearly 60 million people out of poverty.

This can be seen first-hand in the stories of children sponsored through Compassion. Tony grew up in poverty in the Dominican Republic but went on to be the country’s National Director for Compassion. Emanuel, from Tanzania, had the opportunity to study welding and now lives free from poverty and teaches the skill to other children. Vivian grew up without her parents in Tanzania, but now works as an administration assistant thanks to the education support she received.

Education can produce life-changing results. 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills—equivalent to a 12 per cent decrease globally. And every additional year of school a child receives will increase future earnings by roughly 10 per cent.

Data from the World Bank shows the importance of ensuring girls have access to the same quality of education as boys. For example, mothers with better educations raise healthier and more highly educated children. In many countries, educating girls is not considered as important, yet ensuring they have the same opportunities for their future is vital, not just for their wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of the next generation.

“Where I come from, education—especially for girls—is not a big deal. Girls get married young. I do not want that for myself,” says Mupa, an 18-year-old from Kenya.

How can you make a difference?

How You Can Help Break the Cycle

When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you are helping to ensure that child can attend school as well as receive vocational training and join extra-curricular activities. Quality education is important, but just one part of the holistic development each child receives as part of the program. Their social, economic, spiritual and physical wellbeing is cared for alongside their schooling.

However, in times of crisis, like during the COVID-19 pandemic, more is needed to support education that what sponsorship alone provides.

That’s why, for Compassion's 2022 end of financial year appeal, we are asking you to help support education. By giving a tax-deductible donation today, you can help provide each child with what they need to continue their educational development such as: 

  • Vocational training
  • University education
  • Supporting materials and resources, such as textbooks
  • New infrastructure, like libraries and computer labs

Our local church partners know each individual child’s strengths, struggles and dreams for the future. They understand their specific education needs—and how meeting those needs can help them overcome poverty. With your support, you can help make it happen. You can also read more about how your giving will be used to support education this financial year.


Give today and help ensure each child can receive a quality education, break the generational cycle of poverty and reach their God-given potential. You can help to restore a generation!

Words by Andrew Barker.