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Name: Topic: School: Teacher: Year: Candidate #:

Mark Phillips How does poverty affects your academic achievements in high school? Kingston College Ms. Gordon 2012




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The Right Reverent Percival Gibson, an old boy of St. Georges College envisioned a school that would produce balanced men of character and integrity, which would become leaders and sets example in the public life and other pursuits out of life. Having this vision in mind, he helped formed one of the most prominent all boy schools in Jamaica, Kingston College. Kingston College was built on the property located at 2a North Street, Kingston Jamaica. Its gate was open to the public on April 25th, 1925 with 49 students from various inner-city communities that where characterized by poverty, with the intention of molding them into well-rounded, talented and educated young men.


An investigative look at the leading causes and impacts of poverty on the academic achievements of students at Kingston College.


To investigate the causes of poverty

To establish the different measurements of poverty, and how they affect the achievement of students

To find out whether or not students who are under-performing in school are affected by poverty in one way or another

To find out why poverty is so rampant within inner-city communities How poverty affect the learning process of students. To determine if poverty can be reduced or eradicated and to make the learning process of students more effective

Poverty is the lack of resources of basic human needs such as clean water, nutrition, healthcare, education, clothing, food and shelter.

According to the National Poverty Eradication Progromme, there are a number of factors that contribute to the emergence of poverty. They suggest that the Jamaican economy is volatile and stagnant. A majority of the population is unskilled and work in dead-end jobs while many dont even work. They went on further to suggest that this results in these persons not being able to afford basic necessities because of Jamaicas heavy dependence on the importation of food, clothing and gas, thus rendering them very expensive. It has been said that high food prices are a primary cause of poverty along with high unemployment, crime and violence which ensures the continued cycle from generation to generation.

Because of the inability to afford these commodities, many students are not able to attend school regularly, perform very poorly in school and may eventually become high school drop outs thus contributing to the crime problem.

There are two types of poverty, Relative and Absolute poverty. Relative poverty is when some persons way of life and income is worse than the general standard of living of the country or region in which they live. They struggle to live a normal life and are unable to participate in ordinary economic, social and cultural activities. What this means vary from country to country depending on the standard of living enjoyed by the majority. While not as severe as absolute poverty, relative poverty is still very serious and has harmful effects. According to data from the World Bank, Absolute or Extreme poverty is when persons lack the basic necessities for survival, for instance they may be starving, lack clean portable water, proper housing, sufficient clothing or medicines to stay alive. This is most common in developing countries but some people in European Union (EU), for instance homeless people or the Roma in some settlements, still experience this type of extreme poverty. In the absolute poverty scenario, parents and children may not even be able to acquire an education because they are below the standard of living. Relative poverty has many factors that hamper the success in academic achievement such as the concept of being at risk. This is defined by Leroy and Symes, 2001 as a child who is likely to fail in school because of their lifes social circumstances, such as low educated parents, unemployment, abuse and

neglect, substance abuse among others. It is also said by Leroy and Symes, 2001 to realise that a child is at-risk is critical if we are to support their growth and development. In order to bring the rate of children at-risk , is by developing a warm and caring relationship between teacher and children, which will give the teacher the advantage of detecting the warning signs and to make parents aware, so they both are able to intervene in the success of achieving a good education in school and life for that child. High mobility can be seen as symptoms of poverty and its surrounding social factors. For instance, children of poverty who may live in homes that are rented for a week or a day tend to move around often because their parents try to run from their problems such as an abusive spouse, criminal records and financial difficulties. They may also live in battered shelters. This will have a grave impact on the child day-to-day basis at school and a significant effect on their academic performance and achievement. On the flip side however, poverty can also have a positive effect on academic achievement. The constructivism speaks to respecting students differences allowing the student to use the prior knowledge and experience in poverty to motivate and achieve an academic education (Marlowe and Page, 1999). The difference in academic performance among children of different class or groups is referred to as the achievement gap. Children of poverty normally underperform than their counterparts within the middle and upper classes. The causes of this is such that because of the social environment in which the child lives and receives his/her education. Poverty and the achievement gap through research conducted by the education trust in the late 1990s, states that both children and adults were questioned on why do they think are the causes of the achievement gap of children in poverty, in which one comment among those made by the children was, what hurts us more is that they give us less. (Haycock 2001) concludes: we take the students who have less to begin with and then systematically give them less in school. What also matters is that teachers should provide the same effective teaching to the lower as like the middle and upper class students. One social issue faced by children of poverty is emotional trauma. The emotional trauma climate can be stressful to the child, thus this can lead to the lack of emotional nurturing which makes the child feel alienation, inadequacy, depression and anxiety. Aggressive behaviour can result in lower emotional security and self-esteem (Ciaccio, 2000, Brophy 2000). The characteristics that are lacking within a

poverty-stricken environment are those that contribute and foster the effective learning and academic success. The lack of these social characteristics also zaps the motivation of the child to learn thus affecting educational achievement process. To help this situation the teacher now has to try and restore that Childs self-image, motivation by encouraging them to see the demands and rewards of good education (Ciaccio, 2000). (Slawin, 1998) proposes that school can have a powerful impact on the academic achievement and success of all children by viewing them as at-promise rather than at-risk and preparing them to reach their full potential. A good education is often the only means of breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency for poor children. These children need an education that is founded in high standard and high expectations for all. In essence, poverty can affect academic achievement both negatively as stated (Leroy and Symes, 2001) who said that children at-risk are more likely to fail because of the parents status in life, and positively as stated by (Marlowe and Page, 1999) who say that constructivism speaks to respecting students differences allowing the student to use the prior knowledge and experience in poverty to motivate and achieve an academic education. Therefore, it can be concluded that regardless of whether or not the child is from a poverty like background and his/her parent cannot meet certain requirements in life, receiving an education should not be based on where you are from and which class you fall in, but that every child should learn and must learn regardless of their situation in life.

Subsidizing education for the poor and improving the equity and quality of education are steps that can be taken to socially advance the poor. Delivering subsidized or free social services like health care to the impoverished can improve their quality of life. Jamaica must also tackle growing violence. Violence cripples the poor by preventing them from accessing social investments like education or jobs outside their community. Combating drug trafficking and gangs can alleviate the crime rate, as will provide alternative activities like counseling and job training purports the National Poverty Eradication Programme.

In conducting this research, a qualitative research approach was taken in compiling the information and data gathered. The methods that were used to gather the information is the questionnaire which a primary data collection material which were given to students as well as teachers and an interview with the guidance counselors. Also, secondary sources of data collection was used which includes the internet and textbooks. In conclusion, information was easily accessible thus making this research a successful one.


To conduct this research, the method of stratified random sampling was used to ensure reliability of the information allocated and used.

The sampling unit chosen for the research was specifically a Grade 11 class at Kingston College, a prominent high school in Jamaica. This is representative of the population because it has been alleged that of late, Grade 11 students have been underperforming. This class will also be able to portray the patterns of poverty because some of them have been fulfilling this prophecy, and how it contributes to their everyday lives. The interview will be geared toward the students of Hardie as well as the guidance counselor who has been assigned to the school.


QUESTIONNAIRE 1. Have you ever been affected by poverty in one way or another?



2. In what way(s) has it affected you or your family?


Not being able to purchase food Unemployment None of the above

Poor living conditions

Any other?_______

3. Do you think children should be deprived or refused an education because of their status in life?



4. What special privilege(s) do you think should be given to students who are considered less fortunate? Free lunches Waiver of school & exam fees Any other?____________ Free school supplies All of the above

5. Is the Minister of Education, The Most Honorable Andrew Holness doing enough to ensure that all children between the ages of 3-18 attend school daily?



6. If no, what more do you think can be done? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. How can the curse of poverty be broken? Job Creation & better employment opportunities The eradication of gangs and gang related violence Government imposed subsidy on basic amenities such as food, education, clothing and medication Any other ?

8. Do you think enough is being done to help stop the trend of poverty that affects school students?




9. Do you think poverty plays an intricate role in students who are Yes No

10. Is there a direct relationship between poverty and criminal activities?




YE S 87%

NO 13%



For question 1, the graph shows that 87% of the respondents have been affected by poverty in one while 13% havent been affected in any way



12% 2%


Not being able to purchase food Poor living conditions Unemployment None of the above Other


Unemployment is a major factor affecting most of the respondents at approximately 68.3%. Question two also shows that about 2%, are affected by poor living conditions, 12% each for inability to purchase food and other factors (criminal activities) respectively. However, a little over 8% claim to not be affected by poverty.


100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%



All of the respondents when asked question 3 believed that no child should be refused an education because of their status in life.




Waiver of sc hool & exam f ees 85%


Question 4 shows that 97% chose free lunches. 24% and 85% chose school supplies and waiver of fees respectively. On the other hand, 18% stated that transportation should be provided while 70% chose all the options.

YES, 98%

100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1 YES NO

N O, 2%

Approximately all of the respondents (98%) to question 6 believe Andrew Holness is not doing enough to ensure that all children attend school.

Job Creation & better employment opportunities




The eradication of gangs and gang related violence Government imposed subsidy on basic amenities such as food, education, clothing and medication








In response to question 7, 73.7% 93.7% and 74.8% believe that employment opportunity, government subsidies and the eradication of gangs as the solution to poverty respectively.


Yes No


According to question 8, 95% of the interviewees feel that enough is not being done to stem the problem of poverty affecting students while 5% feel otherwise.



70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% S1

under performing in students YES under performing in students NO

68% of the respondents feel that poverty is a one of the reasons why students underperform while 32% feel otherwise as shown in question 9.





When responding to question 10, approximately all the respondents feel that there is a direct relationship between poverty and criminal activities.


The analysis of this I.A (Internal Assessment) will be narrowed down to its primary sources which is the questionnaire and the structured interviews. In the questionnaire 38 was done out of 50 was returned and will be analyzed. According to the questionnaire, majority of the respondents have been affected by poverty in one way or another, which represents 87% of the total sample. Unemployment is a major factor affecting many of the boys at the school. This was quite evident, as 68.3% chose this answer. Not many students choose poor living conditions because many expressed embarrassment for choosing such a response, representing 2.4% of the total respondents. However, 12.5% stated an inability to purchase food and 12% cited criminal activities as one factor and the other 8.2% claimed to not being affected in any way. With regards to denial of education, all of the respondents disagreed. The respondents suggested they would have to fight for their academic achievements because of their status in life. Also, most of the respondents stated that the school should assist students in every way that is possible. 97% chose free lunches 24% chose school supplies 85% chose waiver of fees. Others suggested that the school should provide transportation for students as well 18%. 70% of the respondents chose all the options. Nearly the entire respondents feel that The Minister of Education should be doing more to ensure that all children from age 5-18 attend school daily which represents 98% of the total respondents. 73.4% of the respondents interviewed stated that more employment opportunities while 93.7% believe that government subsidies would be the cure to alleviate poverty. However, 74.8% believes that the eradication of gang violence is the solution. Of the total amount of persons interviewed, 95% believes that more needs to be done to curb the problem of poverty that affects school students, especially since it is a major factor that is causing them not to perform at their full potential during school according to the respondents. On the other hand, only a hand-full (5%) of the respondents disagreed. Most of the respondents feel that poverty affect the performance of students in school at 68%. However, 32% feel otherwise. Also, it must be noted that nearly all the respondents feel that there is a direct relationship between poverty and criminal activities being 99% of the total respondents.


One on one interview was also conducted with the Guidance Counselors of Kingston College. When speaking with the 11th grade students from a class known for underachievers at the school (11 Hardie), he stated that there are not a lot of rich boys at Kingston College and also many of them break rules by selling candy and other various snacks and electronic items in order to receive some form of financial support which includes lunch money for the week or just for survival. He went on to suggest that this affects them mentally thus making them underachieve because outside of school they have to be fight to stay alive which he said many persons are not aware of. Mrs. Watson, another of the guidance counselors, said that a number of programmes have been implemented to address the needs of students affected by poverty. Free lunches, scholarships book grants are some of the benefits provided for students with a genuine need. These however, must be applied for by parents. When asked whether the school is doing enough to combat poverty she said, Kingston college is doing enough because as we know this institution was built on helping boys who were not financial stable. She went on to say that she and her other colleagues still strive and work for that cause. It can be concluded that most of the representative sample that was interviewed believes that all children have the right to learn and should not be deprived of education because of their status in life. Many persons are geared toward this cause because of the far reaching effects that poverty will have on the society as in recent years, many young males have become involved in criminal activities.

Poverty is caused by a number of factors which include unemployment, inability to purchase the basic necessities of life and gang violence. Absenteeism from school is thus dominant because of the many factors that stimulate poverty. There are three main measurements of poverty which are Absolute, Relative and Extreme Poverty. In many instances, students who are underperforming in school are directly affected by poverty and the matter is further compounded because many school educators are not aware of what happens in the lives of students outside of school.


Poverty is so rampant within the inner-city communities because of the uneven distribution of wealth in the society and the lack of social opportunities for the people living there especially these communities are plagued by violence. Many of these children live in these communities and because of that, they become involved in criminal activities.

Segregation is also done by teachers in classrooms which affects student performance. This is the view that was strongly expressed by many of the respondents

Poverty can be reduced mainly by the creation of employment and other social opportunities for the less fortunate within the society such as healthcare, food subsidies and affordable housing as well as the reduction of criminal activities.

Discussion OF FINDINGS
From the data collected, one can make the conclusion that schools and teachers also play a vital and intricate role in students lives as much as their parents and many are not aware of this in the society.

It goes to show us that what happens in children lives outside of school, plays a big part in them achieving a good education, therefore it is the duty of the school and teachers is to have healthy relationship with parents and students because that way whatever happen outside of school; school can adjust it so it does not affect or hamper with Childs learning ability to achieve. In regards to violence in Jamaica inner-city community enough is not being done because ,not of these children cannot help but get draw in to violence because of their status in life and bring deprived of an education, thus leading to drop out of school and help finding other means , of making it in life which is not normally positive.


Segregation which means setting apart which is being done by teachers at school to students living poverty which breaks the child motivation because the teachers give children who better off in life the best treatment , in which this hampers the students in the poverty situation to give up on life thinking theres no future for him/her.

Many of these factors mentioned lead to absenteeism of students because they are feeling that if they are deprived and being ill treated then why bother to pursue an education and achieve in life, thus these children are regularly absent from school because some of these, such as their status in life, community they live in, segregation among others.

This research has found that there are many views to poverty affecting academic achievement in high schools. Children who are living in poverty will more have an unlikely chance of getting and education because of their status in life, which is not right, because in the era every child should achieve and must achieve on education. This is where the role of the government comes in whereby; they must ensure that there are equal opportunities for all. Also the onus is on the less fortunate to break the cycle of dependence that is so evident within the society.


BIBLIOGRAPHY National Poverty Eradication Programme

Article on Poverty in Jamaica: Social Target or Social Crises? Patricia Anderson

Poverty in Jamaica, by Shermaine Anderson-Gayle Posted 11/6/2009 measurements of poverty