We can’t choose our families or our social status, but that has never been an obstacle to our success,” said Lauren Nduta, 21, from Nairobi, Kenya. “In fact, I think that when you have less, it makes you look for more. The power to change any situation lies within us: hard work, perseverance and discipline.”
Rifaat Ullah, 24, a university student in Chittagong, Bangladesh, said he thought he would be better off than his parents because of his education. “My father did not have the opportunity to study much,” he said. “But, even though that was not the case, they gave me an education. Education creates opportunities.”
In developing countries, there is a growing priority for education as a way forward; Robert Bloom, principal investigator for the Global Study of Early Adolescence at Johns Hopkins University, said inclusive education in the United States is spinning for longer and higher education is becoming a turning point.
In low- and middle-income countries it goes like this: ‘What is my chance of doing a better job?’ I don’t have many chances. I don’t have a wealthy family, and my social capital is really limited. So my chance will be education,” he explains.
During her research, Schwartz found that young people in poor countries are often optimistic because of religious belief and strong family and societal ties.
“When people write about the Global South and young people living in poverty, they often reject that kind of higher belief in themselves and the belief that older family members are paving the way,” he said.
Across the world, the dream of a better life continues for the next generation, although it is increasingly elusive in some places.
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