Although education acts as an equalizer between low and high-income children, there is an achievement gap between them. Children from low socioeconomic backgrounds have less access to quality learning materials and resources such as books and tutors needed for a positive literacy environment, and consequently enter high school with average literacy skills five years behind children coming from high socioeconomic backgrounds. Lack of resources and misinformation put children from low socioeconomic backgrounds at a great disadvantage. According to the Funding Gaps report of 2018 by the Education Trust, students studying in the highest poverty districts receive 1000 USD less per child than students studying in the lowest poverty districts. In several countries, schools ask for a “student fee” and payment for pursuing certain activities and classes. Along with that, expenditure on mandatory school uniforms, stationery items, etc, put the already disadvantaged students even more behind than their wealthier counterparts.
Shifting to a good school district is not easy for these families either. Homes in low poverty districts cost almost 32% more than homes in other areas . Families have to choose between spending substantial amount of money on good schools and making do with schools in mostly high poverty districts. Unfortunately, for several, it is a tough compromise.
In many countries throughout Africa, “informal fees” and payment for “compulsory items” exists and often, in countries having mainly private schools, families have to choose between their daily bread and their child’s education. Various researches conducted all over the world such as research in Lagelu local government in Nigeria or research by the International Journal of Indian Psychology all point to the same conclusion- socioeconomic status is a significant factor in the academic achievement of students.
While education is a fundamental right, it has, unfortunately, become an ‘option’ for children coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The achievement gap keeps on widening. There is an urgent need for equitable funding, quality resources, learning materials, and quality teaching all over the world to be able to truly celebrate this fundamental right.