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Disparities That Impact School Attendance

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Disparities that impact school attendance in developing countries: Education is a key element in driving development. Impoverished children face barriers that infringe on their ability and desire to attend school. Globally, there are 263 million “out-of-school” children and youth (1). Even with positive advances in education, the obstacles children face need to be considered. Factors that are adversely associated with school enrollment and retention include location, education quality, poverty, health and gender disparities.

Location of schools: Children in poverty are often forced to walk and travel far distances to school. The stress that comes with a long journey to school is often too much to handle. It can cause regular absenteeism or completely deter a child from attending. Additionally, the route to school maybe unduly hazardous for children to safely travel to and from classes.

The quality of the schools: In developing countries, many state and private schools have shortages of qualified teachers, supplies and classrooms. Consequently, multiple grades are often forced to be taught in a small area, and low-quality curricula is taught by inexperienced teachers. In India, nearly 60% of state teachers do not have a college education (2). These pervasive school conditions discourage children from attending school and viewing it as worthwhile investment.

Household poverty: Impoverished families frequently need their children for labor in order to sustain their livelihood. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 5 children are in forced labor (3). Economic conditions coerce families to have their children work instead of attending school. Children are regularly expected to pay for supplies and unofficial fees because schools are underfunded. Even in “free” state schools, it is common for students to pay for costs including exam fees and uniforms. Some children are unable to attend because these extra costs are a tremendous burden for their families. In Zambia, for example, households



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