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National Standards of Living

Why do almost half the people on our planet live in poverty? What measures are taken to improve the standard of living for the citizens of these countries? These are just a few questions that this module examines, exploring such factors as poor health, low income, and lack of education among others, and examining some of the most effective solutions to these problems.

At the beginning of this module, students are challenged to evaluate the standard of living in their Civic Mirror nation against a standard of living index (like the one the UN uses), then compare the results with real-world nations. To complete this task, students will need to learn more about all the varying human living realities of people living in various countries worldwide. Reading the module’s content, then, has a practical (and interesting) purpose.

To help contextualize the curricular content for students, the module opens with the story of Tamba, a fictitious Liberian boy who struggles daily to survive and is without many services and luxuries we take for granted in our industrialized countries. Tamba’s story helps students connect how the poverty and other deficiencies in their own Civic Mirror country (for example, no food for their families) actually simulate real (and sad) stories about people’s lives in the real world.

With context provided and the larger task in mind, the students explore major global issues such as food supply, literacy and education, population issues, infectious diseases and health care, gender equity, government health versus corruption, unfair global trade practices, and peoples’ basic attitudes toward issues such as these.

Throughout the module, references are made to standard of living issues in the reader’s Civic Mirror country (which will likely be something they sincerely care about), with questions that guide them to how these issues exist in their own country and other countries in the world. For example, what other countries in the world have literacy rates like your Civic Mirror country? How does your country’s literacy rates compare with that of the United States or Canada? These questions activate curiosity and interest and encourage students to keep reading.

The module concludes with a case study of Liberia, providing students an in-depth, real-world example of the challenges facing people living in a developing nation in light of all the issues explored in the curricular content, and reminding students of their task to identify what real-world country their Civic Mirror country is most like.