A Very Real First-World Problem: Poverty

Image from saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com

http://www.3news.co.nz/Lunchbox-differences-in-decile-1-and-decile-10-schools/tabid/817/articleID/269617/Default.aspx

A friend shared this Campbell Live news item on Facebook today, with a comment “Woah, didn’t think it was that bad.”

In New Zealand, we have Decile ratings, based on the socio-economic status of the community. Decile 1 schools are low-income communities, and Decile 10 schools are high. “Deciles are a way in which the Ministry of Education allocates funding to schools, according to the Ministry of Education. It is publicly available information.

Regardless of where you live in the world, watch this video, and find out what the level of poverty is in your own country. Sure, these kids have education, a roof over their heads, and aren’t completely starving, but in this wonderful first-world country of ours, it is heartbreaking to see the limited food available to these children. As the principal of the Decile 1 school points out, most of the time it is not the fault of the parents, and it is most certainly not the fault of the children.

Most parents and families work hard to feed & clothe their children. They work full-time (or more) on minimum wage, or get help from Welfare if they meet criteria. In addition, someone needs to be there in the mornings and afternoons to look after the children while they’re at work, and somehow on top of all this they need to be there for their family, and look after their own health & well-being, too. Sometimes, there’s just no time set aside for budgeting, researching options, or making sure that their children eat 5+ a day. There’s a great NZ Herald article “Low-pay life sets banker a challenge“, that shows what it’s like from a high-earner’s perspective.

It ain’t an easy lifestyle, but, what can you do?

Source: kidscan.org.nz

This video hit me hard, not because I didn’t know about this terrible state of affairs, but because it was a big reminder of what I have seen in my own experience as a teacher. It also reminds me that not only is there poverty in third-world countries, but much closer to home as well. The food offered from KidsCan is a “band-aid” – but at least it is a big step in the right direction.

Some schools have parent-led information evenings, where people from the community use their own expertise to help other parents. Where can kids go for help with homework? How can we budget when we’re earning minimum wage? What strategies can I use to help my children’s behaviour? What does ‘eating healthy’ really mean?

I’m a strong believer that a lot of problems come down to lack of education, and lack of basic health. Using myself as an example, once I started eating healthier, exercising more regularly (still working on that one!) and looking after my mental wellness, I have become a more positive and proactive person – which is exactly how I’d like to be.

For further reading, “Save our Schools NZ” has written an article titled “How Many Of Our Kids Are Learning On An Empty Stomach?” which has some excellent points, especially that in our tendency to blame the parents, we take the off any responsibility about doing something ourselves.

So now, my thoughts are whizzing and whirring about, hey, what can I do? This is something I’m passionate about – I got teary over this video article – so I want – and I am able – to do something about it. What are you passionate about? What can you do about it? 

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