Living in a third world country, or as my politicians say: “a country in route to development”, has opened up my eyes on how poverty impacts our societies. I live in a country where one of our current (re-elected) senators was positioned as the third most corrupt man in the world. By 2010, Dominican Republic had 34% of the population in a state of poverty, approximately one third of the population while our current senator, Felix Bautista, has been accused of money laundering and embezzling more than 100 million dollars of the government money on a foreign development firm.
I define Poverty as a state in where an individual or a group of individuals lack access to a good education, honorable job, food security and social insertion due to a low income; which can go the other way around: the state in where an individual or group of individuals have a low income, thus, they can’t access a good education, honorable job, food security or social insertion.
Many of you may ask why this cycle always tends to happen again and again in various third world or “in route to development” countries. This is why I will analyze about “The Poverty Cycle” in a third world country.
The Poverty Cycle is a group of organized and sequenced events that are orchestrated by corrupt governments in order to obtain political and economical power based upon the impoverishing of its people. This isn’t obtained by direct manipulation of the money, but by the manipulation of the system itself. First we’ll start the cycle with:
- Increasing of the family basket
In some countries, the family basket is a set of goods and services that are acquired regularly for the support of the “typical” family, in terms of number of members, and with average economic conditions. These are related to food, health, education, clothing, transportation, recreation and other services.
Third world countries and countries with corrupt governments, suffer irregular increases of the family basket for reasons such as the payment of international debts or increases in the wage of politicians. In the end, the worker class is the one who suffers it.
These high prices in basic needs forces teens and young adults to dropout of school in order to improve the economical conditions in their families by working. Since they barely have a high school (and even elementary) diploma, it’s hard for them to find a high paying and worthy job. If the family basket keeps increasing, then this leads to working more jobs or hours in order to supply the basic family needs.
2.Decreasing of investments in education and deserters
So, third world countries tend to invest a low amount of Gross Domestic Product in education; which is why we tend to have higher illiteracy rates and lower education standards. This translates in a deficient education. The decrease is itself a phenomenon in the cycle.
First we have that the governments give teachers a minimum wage salary. In these countries, teachers aren’t a respected profession and can sometimes earn less than a secretary (in case we’re talking about public education). These wages aren’t enough for teachers to update their knowledge based on a 21st century world, because they aren’t able to pay for masters, diplomats or courses that are requirements nowadays. This leads us to outdated teachings, thus an education not fitted by our global demands. Since teacher’s are not qualified to today demands, some methods such as memorizing and not doubting what the teacher says because it’s “absolute” and “credible”are commonly used. This makes children to accept whatever someone says and not to doubt or analyze the information or the source from where it comes from.
Another dilemma which affects education is the fact that there is a poor curriculum being implemented in their schools. Since the teacher’s aren’t updated, it is common the use of outdated textbooks which spreads an old and outdated knowledge among students. Another problem concerning the curriculum is that the government excludes various important subjects such as: Health classes, Molecular biology, Calculus, Art, Music, Philosophy, Computer Science, Economics, Critical Thinking and Life Skills. The main purpose of education is to strengthen your mind so that you can more easily learn to deal with specific challenges you will face throughout your life (as said by Philip Guo). The lack of these subjects in their curriculum is the cause of most of the problems in their societies.
An example of this is the high rate of teen pregnancies in Dominican Republic. This country has one of the highest rates, ranking in third place in Latin America. One in every three teens become pregnant before turning 20 years old. The lack of Health classes in the country’s curricula raises a higher ignorance about the human sexuality, which ends in mistakes that are perpetrated through generation and generations. The government blames the parents because they are the ones “responsible” for their children’s education; but knowing that Health classes were never part of the education system in the first place, makes the parents to know just as much or less about these subjects than their children. These teen pregnancies leads to school dropouts, thus resorting to low wage jobs, because lack of an academic training, in order to subsist.
Due to the increase in the cost of the family basket, this leads to a higher number of deserters in schools. If we add a poor education on top of that, you have a poor skilled, inexperienced, ignorant and uninformed novice having to work from a young age because of the increases of the family basket.
3. Cheaper workforce
In Dominican Republic you have a 13% illiteracy rate and approximately 45.9% of kids desert school due to economical issues, and thus, resort to work instead. This is exactly what our politicians want. Not having an academic degree make people go for low-paying jobs, since they usually don’t have a formal educational requirement. Since these barely get to the minimum wage figure, these people tend to get more than one job to survive their basic needs. This greatly benefits lots of businesses and companies that can use a big workforce with little investment.
Remember that these workers don’t have an analytical approach on this subject, since they didn’t have a qualified education in the first place. They don’t know the laws that protects workers or the right that workers have in order to have a dignifying job. They tend to work without no physical protection (depending on the job) because they disavow the laws of bio security. They also tend to work extra hours without pay, do more work than the one hired for and even put their health in danger in order to cover their basic needs to subsist.
Since these workers are the ones that keep the economy flowing, the government usually turns a blind eye on the problem. They think: “Well, if we get more school deserters, we will have more cheaper workforce, which will help enrich the state and all the businesses that contribute to the state with taxes”; and since these third world countries tend to have corrupt governments, they proceed to increase taxes and eventually increase the value of the family basket.
4. Higher increasing of the family basket
After this, the only way to survive is to work in order to pay for your basic needs. The lack of educational purpose and responsibility from the government contributes to a deficient knowledge, which is also affected by the increase of the prices on the family basket which forces kids to dessert school in order to work and supply for their basic needs. This deficient knowledge also contributes to ignorance in social, economical and political aspects of our society.Since the government keeps increasing the value of the traditional family basket, these people are forced to working more jobs and working more hours, while the wage stays on minimum for them just for the benefit of the upper strata of the country’s economy. This is then propagated upon their children who can barely make it to school to receive a good education, and thus, the cycle goes on and on, for generations and generations.
When does this poverty cycle stop?