A Professor of Sociology at the Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Patrick Edewor, has described education as the best contraceptive for preventing population increase in Nigeria and the world at large.
Edewor said this while delivering the 16th inaugural lecture of the university themed, ‘Be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth: The motivation, the cost and the gains.’
He stressed that education would raise the marriage age of female children, as well as the cost of training children through widespread schooling.
He further noted that population growth would have attendant consequences for socio-economic development in less developed countries, although there was a desire to reduce mortality to very low levels.
Edewor also argued that the rise in Nigeria’s population was a result of the value placed on children in the society. “By the value of children, we mean the benefits or satisfaction and costs of children to parents. The perception of these costs and benefits of children among parents serve as the motivating or de-motivating factor for childbearing. Children’s productive value as contributors to household income was a major component of their instrumental benefits to parents,” Edewor said.
He said that Nigeria’s population was on the rise because many people regarded children as sources of security in old age and they believed that a childless man or woman or one with an insufficient number of children, particularly sons would suffer in his or her old age.
“Children are believed to be the means of perpetuating the lineage, which consists of the dead ancestors, those currently living and those yet unborn. It is through children that the continuity of the lineage is ensured. A childless man is, therefore, the most pitied because it is believed that his branch of lineage would end with his death,” he said.
Edewor also urged African countries to look for ways to curb population growth in the face of the present economic challenges.
“High fertility is associated with poverty. The poorest countries of the world have the highest fertility levels. Within countries, the poorest individuals also have high fertility because of the consideration of children as wealth. This condition perpetuates poverty. Poverty breeds poverty through this means and a vicious cycle of poverty is created,” he said.
He said that investment in education was the ideal solution to the problem of high fertility and rapid population growth in Nigeria and Africa as educated couples would be knowledgeable about family planning techniques.
The Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Prof Aderemi Atayero, advised parents to give birth to the number of children they can train and feed.
Atayero, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Akan Williams, said, “Population has an impact on development, we need to watch it especially in Nigeria that the GDP is not going our way so that we won’t have many people on the street begging,” he submitted.