Learning Poverty: More than Intellect

We recently read a blog by the World Bank about learning poverty, and are encouraged by the discussion happening around #qualityeducation.

Though more students around the world are accessing school, with primary school enrolment standing at 97 percent (USAID), we know more needs to be done. Students just being in school often isn’t enough.

Here, the World Bank outlines that, even though they are in schools, more than half of the children in the developing world, (low-and middle-income countries) cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10. This is the World Bank’s definition of “learning poverty”.

Learning poverty is something we’ve seen time and time again in schools across Rwanda. Teachers, many of whom don’t have adequate training, are faced with overcrowded classrooms, which can lead to the use of outdated techniques, such as physical punishment. For the kids in the classroom, this breeds an environment of fear—not of learning. Students aren’t receiving the care and attention they need to thrive. For many kids in Rwanda, the education they receive in school is akin to having no education at all.

At Wellspring, we’re building on the concept of #learningpoverty. Our School Development Program doesn’t just focus on empowering stakeholders with the skills and capacity to tackle the knowledge-based learning gaps in school, it also focuses on making sure that every child is treated with dignity, value, and worth, both inside the classroom and beyond the bounds of the schoolyard.

The World Bank proposes a solution to learning poverty: “Focusing on eliminating learning poverty will require that all actors in the educational system (teachers, principals, the local and central bureaucracies, ministers, and many others) internalize that the purpose of the job they hold is to make sure each and every child learns.”

For Wellspring, learning isn’t just about math and science lessons. It is about a student’s heart and character just as much as it is about their knowledge and intellect. It’s about ensuring that each student knows they are seen, loved, and known by God. It’s about seeing the potential in each student, and helping them find a path towards it. It is dignifying, encouraging, and empowering. 

Leaders, parents, and teachers who have walked through Wellspring’s training program have truly been transformed as they begin to internalize the importance of their jobs—and have transformed their students as a result! Students are encouraged and empowered, and are reaching their potential through the #qualityeducation they are receiving.

We are seeing real transformation in Rwandan schools because of our investment in the hearts and minds of students, but learning poverty will continue around the world until all schools invest in students this way, too.

How would you define #learningpoverty, and how do you think it should be tackled?