© 2014 Taylor & Francis. This article explores how different ways of experiencing poverty affect the possibilities of poor children to make the most of their education. The study uses the concept of conditions of educability to reflect how the different dimensions of the experience of poverty facilitate or hinder the success of educational practices and the learning of poor students. In the first part of the article, the concept of conditions of educability is discussed in relation to the notions of capabilities and functionings, and a framework to investigate conditions of educability is presented. The second part of the article is based on the results of a study conducted in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Through an analysis of interviews conducted with students, families and teachers, the different dimensions of the social experience of the children who inhabit the favelas are described. Two cases are presented and discussed as analytical examples of the conditions of educability of poor children. The last section of the article assesses some of the consequences of conditions of educability for the policy debate.