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Most narrators see education for the next generation as vital to break the poverty cycle, but many are struggling to meet school fees.

Mircho says that lack of education leaves the poor with few employment options and limits their ability to demand their rights. Chhutta agrees -“nobody gives a job to an illiterate person” – yet despairs of the difficulty of paying for his own children’s education.

Kishore argues that illiteracy breeds ignorance and superstition, and so further undermines the ability of the poor to improve their lot.

Salma is a successful entrepreneur who has had little education; she believes helping one’s children learn a craft and practical skills is the best investment for their future.

Fatima and Allah Bux both say how hard it is for fishing families to educate their children: when fish are available, everyone is needed to work; when fish aren’t available, they have no money to pay fees.

is appreciative of some government support for school expenses.


Education is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Pakistan oral testimony project.


Allah Bux: older generation

Basran: desperate times

Chhutta: migrant’s tale

Fatima: vulnerable lives

Hodat: diversifying business

Karim Bux: lacking support

Khamiso: looking back

Kishore: living prudently

Mircho: losing dignity

Nasreen: just surviving

Nazeer: high standards

Salma: independent spirit

Key themes

Introduction to the project

Loans and debt

Survival strategies

The cost of poverty

Environmental decline


Political representation


Insecurity and conflict


Food security and health