The first of the Global Goals states the world’s commitment to bring an end to poverty by 2030. Read more on the UN SDGs website…
Extreme poverty is a challenge that faces people in many less economically developed countries. In the context of the Global Goals, extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$1.25 a day – that is 1.2 billion people by current estimates.
There is also the concept of relative poverty. Poor people in a ‘rich’ country might live above the global extreme poverty threshold but still fall well below what that country would define as a reasonable standard of living.
Poverty severely reduces people’s choices in life. At the extreme end, they may have to spend much of their time focussing on finding enough food or fuel for their families to survive – they may not be able to afford school for their children. Even those living in relative poverty are likely to be excluded from fully participating in society.
You could use this film clip as a starter for a lesson on poverty. Chabna used to beg to stay alive, now, thanks to microfinance, she runs her own small business selling yoghurt. (There are many more film clips on the Why Poverty? website, and different language versions are available.)
Learning about the different concepts of poverty, and what life is like for people living in poverty, can help students develop qualities of empathy and understanding. If they can research and explore the complex reasons why poverty exists, they can start taking action to end it. Here are some teaching ideas by subject:
English / Mother tongue: Researching the lives of people living in poverty and writing imaginatively about it; drafting campaigning material to combat poverty.
Geography: Comparing maps of poverty indicators such as low birth weight, child mortality and life expectancy.
History: Exploring how the standard of living in your country has improved over time and why, and how this compares with other countries.
Maths: Calculating what $1.25 a day can buy in different countries; exploring concepts of relative and absolute/extreme poverty.
When tackling this topic it is important not to fall back on stereotypes – both poverty and wealth exist in all countries in the world and the reasons behind poverty are complex. Using personal stories can be a good way to build understanding and sympathy for those who live in poverty but it is important not to generalise and to help pupils find common ground with people whose lives might at first appear very different. There are some big questions for pupils to grapple with, such as:
- Is it still our responsibility to help the poorest if they live in countries where there is now significant wealth?
- Can donating money actually make the situation worse?
Global Poverty Requires Local Solutions – 60 mins, ages 11 to 14. Suitable for Economics, Geography, Social Studies.
The World Is Not Equal. Is That Fair? – 60 mins, ages 11 to 14. Suitable for Citizenship, Social Studies.
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Click on the images below to explore the other Global Goals: