Me With The Class

Que Caro Es Ser Pobre/How Expensive It Is To Be Poor – Education

Que Caro es ser pobre how expensive it is to be poorWhen I was volunteering at Maya Pedal in Guatemala there was a sign on the wall that said “Que Caro Es Ser Pobre”. It means “How expensive it is to be poor.” As I travel through many of the world’s “poor” countries, I am writing a series of articles about how expensive it is to be poor. I don’t think many people in “rich” countries understand how difficult it is to climb out of poverty. I am all about positivity and I am having the time of my life right now. But I would be doing a disservice to the amazing people I’ve met if I didn’t share their story of what life is like dealing with poverty.

Education

I visited a school here in Yoloaiquin just 3 minutes walking distance from where I am staying and it inspired me to write this post.

Poverty is a cycle and education is one of the things that can break that cycle. But education is all relative.

Here are some pictures of the school here in Yoloaiquin.

The School

The School

 

Broken Roof

Broken Roof

Ruined Furniture Due To Roof

Ruined Furniture Due To Roof

Bathrooms Are Far Away And There's No Running Water To Wash Hands

Bathrooms Are Far Away And There’s No Running Water To Wash Hands

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom With No Roof

Bathroom With No Roof

This is not the best environment for learning. It gets worse though. The broken roof over the classroom has been like that for three years. The furniture in the adjacent room is all rotten as a result of exposure to the elements. Half the school is essentially shut down.

Many parents withdrew their children from the school and now send them to others farther away. As a result of the reduced number of students, there is only one teacher there now to cover grades 1 through 5. There are only 12 students total now, way down from its high.

Imagine the different needs an 11-year-old fifth grader has compared to a 6-year-old first grader. One is learning how to read, the other should have mastered multiplication and division. Completely different. But here, they are all under the same roof for the four hours of school they have per day.

Given these conditions, it’s hard to see how the poverty cycle gets broken. Many parents in middle class/wealthy families opt to send their kids to private schools. Their kids receive a better education, but it’s not the solution and it only propagates the poverty cycle by keeping quality education out of reach for the poor.

The U.S. has its own problems with public schools in many cities and the crushing student-loan problem. I understand that and I think drawing a parallel with this example is completely warranted. So far if a few words were changed, I could very well be speaking about the U.S.

In visiting the school, I have no doubt that the students are eager to learn and are motivated to succeed. It’s just hard to see, given the limited resources, how they could be expected to keep pace with students in schools with better conditions.

Me With The Class

Me With The Class

The hardest thing about visiting the school was talking to the teacher. He has been teaching there for 32 years. He says he will retire soon and he doesn’t want to leave the school in its worst condition it has ever been in to whoever replaces him. And he, obviously, doesn’t think it’s fair for the students.

Students With The Teacher

Students With The Teacher

This has just been one anecdote about a small school in rural El Salvador. But I think elements of it are representative across many developing countries (and some developed countries).

What do you do when the government is supposed to provide free, universal education to all students yet it is failing well short of doing so – thus nearly ensuring the propagation of the poverty cycle?

Complicated question. No easy answers. I just know it’s not right.

6 replies
  1. Bruja_80
    Bruja_80 says:

    This just makes me think of how many things we take for granted in our comfortable lives. You’re correct, this is just not right, and I think each and every of us should do what is in our hands to make these kind of things better. These kids didn’t choose to live with this circumstances, they are here because someone else decided to close their eyes when the government they have voted isn’t doing anything to make things better.
    Thanks for doing this and sharing what you’re seeing with everyone! 

    Reply
    • Adam Pervez
      Adam Pervez says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bruja, and you have a great attitude! 

      Yes, it affected me and I had to share it. Hopefully they’ll secure funding to fix this school. If not, I’ll try to raise funds somehow. But again, this is one example of many all across the world. 

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I can’t comment too much in this regard as I’ve only seen the school located 3 minutes by foot from where I’m staying. Nevertheless, you can see the sad state of disarray that school is in here. […]

  2. […] visiting these schools, we passed by a school marked for reconstruction. It reminded me a lot of this school I visited in Yoloaiquin, El Salvador. It was really in bad […]

  3. […] to focus on something. After about a week of really great and enjoyable conversations, and the heartbreaking experience of visiting the local school, I told Rene that my Peruvian roommates in Spain had a phrase for what we were doing – […]

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