A Critical Examination of the Impact of Poverty on the Health and Development of Primary School Pupils



1.1 Background Of The Study

Poverty is often seen as a fundamental impediment to human growth, and children are a huge and vulnerable population in the world at large(Borgen, 2013). Poverty remains persistent in life, even in wealthy nations as claimed by Borgen(2013), and its impacts on children have long been a source of worry. Hence, there is need to protect children from abuse, exploitation, or a premature end to their childhood, since these are just a few of the numerous negative impacts of poverty on children as emphasized by Conger, Conger, & Elder(2007). Poverty is described in World Bank Report (2008) as an individual’s or a group’s inability to acquire a basic standard of life. Furthermore, the condition in which individuals are unable to meet their basic needs of food, and shelter, as well as clothing, is referred to as poverty according to Yunusa(1995). He further specified that poverty also involves the inability of individuals to meet socioeconomic responsibilities, and lack gainful employment, skills, assets, and self-esteem, limiting their chances of advancing their welfare to full capabilities. Poverty can be absolute, relative, or transitory.

Relative poverty is defined by Aku, Ibrahim, and Bulus (1997), as the inability of certain segments of society or individuals to meet their basic needs in comparison to others, whereas absolute poverty is defined as severe deprivation of basic human needs such as food, safe drinking water, hygiene, facilities, health, shelter, education, and information. On the other hand, transitory poverty was stressed by Smith(2005) as a long-term or persistent lack of productive resources, a lack of skills for gainful employment, and endemic sociopolitical and cultural issues. It can exist in a any nations, states, families, and individuals. Hanson, McLanhan & Thomson(2001) stated that because it is a critical driver of child health development, it requires immediate attention, particularly in Nigeria.

Furthermore, children growing up in poverty face a slew of disadvantages that build throughout their lives. Similarly, poverty has a wide range of detrimental effects on children’s health and development as postulated by Ajegi(2004), resulting in health inequalities, cognitive development, psychosocial development, and educational achievement. These inequalities are seen in pre-school children during the school period, as well as in admission into the labor market, retirement reserves, death rates in later life, and frequently in the following generation. As a result of the above, the purpose of this research is to critically investigate the influence of poverty on the health and development of primary school children.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

In Nigeria, public concern has been on the increase regarding the consequences of poverty on children. Children from low-income families, in particular, are more disadvantaged educationally and in other ways. In agreement to this, Baldwin (2006), stated that children from low-income families typically enroll in school behind children from more wealthy backgrounds. This is obviously indicated through the measures of school readiness indicators. Additionally, the prevalence, depth, duration, and timing of  poverty, as emphasized by Feinstein(2003), has an impact on a child’s academic achievement and overall development. Over the last decade, inequalities in family incomes have expanded in Nigeria, as the depth of poverty for certain households has equally increased(Hanson et al, 2001). This incident is considered detrimental to children.

Consequently, children growing up in poverty confront a number of health challenges, according to Smith(2005), they are more likely to have a low birth weight, which has a substantial impact on the child’s future physical and mental health development. As a result of the effects of poverty on children, serious physical problems, grades, repetition, learning difficulties, and lower levels of intellect and reading accomplishment occur(Obadan, 2009). Despite the tremendous expansion of the literature on the consequences of child poverty on health and development, there has been none channeled to primary school pupils in Nigeria, which is the primary goal of this study.

1.3 Objective Of The Study

The general aim of this study is to examine the impact of poverty on the health and development of primary school pupils. Below are the specific objectives of this study:

  1. Determine the implications of poverty on children from low-income families.
  2. Determine whether poverty affects children’s educational attainment.
  3. Ascertain if low family income negatively affects the health and development of children in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

The statements below will be validated in the course of this study.

H01: Poverty does not affect the educational attainment of children in primary school.

H02: Low family income does not negatively affect the health and development of children in primary school.

1.4 Significance Of The Study

The study is expected to be useful to the Nigerian government as it will enlighten them on the height of poverty in the country and the extent to which it affects the development of children in primary schools. This study will also heighten the need for effective poverty reduction programmes in the country.

Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to the impact of poverty on the health and development of primary school pupils.

1.6 Scope Of The Study

Generally, this study is geared towards examining the impact of poverty on the health and development of primary school pupils. The study, however, will specifically determine the implications of poverty on children from low-income families, whether poverty affects children’s educational attainment, and whether low family income negatively affects the health and development of children in Nigeria. Thus, respondents for the study will be obtained from the teachers of selected primary schools in Kwara State.

1.7. Limitations Of The Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools in the country generally.

1.8 Definition Of Terms

Poverty: This is a condition where individuals are not able to cater adequately to their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, cannot meet social and economic obligations, and lack gainful employment, skills, assets, and self-esteem, which results in limiting the chances of advancing their welfare to their full capabilities.

Education: This is the act of teaching knowledge to others and of receiving knowledge from someone else. Education also refers to the knowledge received through schooling or instruction and to the institution of teaching as a whole.

Educational Attainment: This is a term commonly used by statisticians to refer to the highest degree of education an individual has completed, as defined by the US Census Bureau Glossary.


Ajegi, S.O (2004). The affluence of poverty: A critical evaluation of Nigeria’s poverty reduction programme.

Aku, P.S., Ibrahim, M.S., & Bulus, Y.D. (1997). Perspectives on poverty and poverty alleviation strategies for Nigerians. Nigeria Economic Society. 1997 Annual Conference, Abuja.

Baldwin(2006), Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russet Sage Foundation.

Borgen, C. (2013). Review of the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States. The Future of Children, 5(1), 224-231.

Conger, R.D., Conger, K.J, & Elder, G.H. (2007). Family economic hardship and adolescent adjustment: mediating and moderating processes.

Hanson, T., McLanhan, S., & Thomson, A. (2001). Economic resources, parental practices, and child-wellbeing. In G.J. & J. Brooks-Gunn (Ed.), Consequences of growing up poor (pp. 35-48). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Obadan, M. (2009). Analytical framework for poverty reduction: Issue of economic growth versus other strategies. Nigerian Economic Society, 1997 Annual Conference, Ibadan, 7 July.

Smith, J.R., (2005). Consequences of living in poverty for young children’s cognitive and verbal ability and early school achievement.

World Bank Report. (2008). World development report. New York: Oxford University Press.

Yunusa, M.H. (2008). Incidence of poverty in Nigeria: Cause and consequences. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from www.ajol.inor/index.php/jorynal/article/view/42813



Welcome! My name is Damaris I am online and ready to help you via WhatsApp chat. Let me know if you need my assistance.