A Population Antidote: High School for Girls

April 19, 2012 • Education, Nigeria, Daily Email Recap

On April 14th, the NY Times printed “Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population” written by Elisabeth Rosenthal. On April 16th, she posted a follow-up blog entry on the NY Times Green blog. You can follow Rosenthal on Twitter @nytrosenthal

A Population Antidote: High School for Girls
See: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/a-population-antidote-high-school-for-girls/

High school for girls = population control = sustainable growth.

I know this may seem like a simplistic equation. But in interviews on the causes and effects of runaway population growth in Africa for a weekend article in The Times, many experts suggested one singularly effective intervention: make sure that girls to go to high school.

I heard it from Peter Ogunjuyigbe, a demographer in the city of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, who is studying population growth with financing from the Gates Foundation and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. I heard it from Parfait M. Eloundou-Enyegue, a development sociologist at Cornell. I heard it most forcefully, perhaps, from Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, who views population stabilization as tightly linked to female empowerment.

“There are countries where the population is growing faster than the economy,” Mr. Osotimehin, a former Nigerian health minister, said in an interview in New York. “We try to work with these countries to make sure girls have access to education to empower women to participate in politics and the economy.”

At some point along the population growth curve in much of Sub-Saharan Africa, too many people means not enough resources, marked declines in human health and the destruction of critical natural habitat.

So how does requiring secondary education for girls lead to smaller families and a more sustainable world? Let me count the ways.

·  In many African nations, girls are typically only required to attend primary school, if that. That means their schooling ends around age 12 and they are spit out into a world where their future is to be to be married off and start having babies. Not surprisingly, low rates of education for women consistently correlates with high fertility rates. In West and Central Africa over all, 44 percent of girls are married before they turn 18. That figure leaps to 76 percent in Niger, where the fertility rate is the highest in the world (7.3 babies per woman) and many women marry in early adolescence.

To read the full article, please click here: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/a-population-antidote-high-school-for-girls/

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