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HOW DO I TEACH POVERTY TO MY STUDENTS

Poverty is not a circumstance, it is a mindset, an attitude. The escape room to poverty is to accept it with all hearts and to start working on it to improve. As very aptly quoted by Bill Gates, arriving on the earth poor may not be one’s mistake but dying poor certainly is. Nobel laurate Amartya Sen terms poverty as deprivation of freedom and rights. Unfortunately, almost 80% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 1% of world’s population. The question is it a mere chance to be poor or there are reasons behind? Yes, there are.

The new age youth, who are exposed to labyrinths of literature, bewildering resources of technology and plenty of non-human modern amenities that facilitate learning, barely know anything about the crying issue of at least half the world, known as ‘poverty’.

As a teacher, if I have to teach my students what poverty is, I would ask them to first draw on a piece of paper how does poverty look like. Certainly, the outcome of that drawing class would draw consideration of many – because the drawing sheets would contain some figures funny, some unclear, some even mocking and some yet other totally blank!

The day a teacher is able to infuse in his/her students the feelings of togetherness, inclusivity, equitability, sensibility towards the society, respect for resources (despite all the wealth around them that they have grown up with) and rights that humans deserve to live respectfully, the teacher would perhaps be starting to do the right thing that he/she can, for his students.

A student coming out of a modern school providing extra miles of comfort and an unlimited liberty of choice may hardly be able to understand what poverty is and how do people survive through it. This is also because the schools are perhaps not being enterprising enough to bring up the value of human life as a whole before their students. Poverty, as if, is a despicable vice, a taboo to be away from!

There is poverty of thoughts, poverty of emotions, poverty of even ideas about ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do’ besides being unclear about ‘for whom to do’ among our students these days. They also suffer from poverty of togetherness and relationship – they prefer to live in their tusky la-la lands covered with the velvets of ‘class’ sneering away from the so-called downtowners.

There is poverty of equality between societal stratum and generations that the youth actually have started liking. A majority of them are in poverty of trust and hence live secluded bot-lives which, alarmingly, they have started falling in love with.

Poverty of sensibility and respect for others are rapidly making inroads into their morality which they are not bothered about. They do not mind even dropping their motherland for their personal antithesis. The era is of AI and Chat-GPT where humans have started believing that the world is not expecting them to run it but to go on exploiting and plundering its resources in a rampant rage. And when everything is depleted, the AI giants like Chat-GPT would replete them all again – they are so convinced about it!

Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty – so simply put in by Lyndon B. Johnson generations ago but is so true even today. Here, the President refers to education as learning and yes, true education is the only escape gate for poverty. The better the facilities and opportunities for education, the higher the prospects for the poor to liberate and morph into the real
world.

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