Knowledge is definitely Power. So, we will be doing a little family planning advocacy.
Family planning refers to birth control, especially carried out by married couples. Although the awareness of this is widely spread in urban areas, we still see many families in continual struggle and stress to cater for their many children. And worse, the parents have no meaningful source of income. Feeding is a major challenge, so enrolling in school to acquire formal education is a far-cry.
Data from UNICEF (2018) says that each year in Nigeria, at least 7 million babies are born. When considering the low levels of birth registration, in some areas up to 62 per cent, known data about child health issues are likely to underestimate the true scale. (https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/situation-women-and-children-nigeria) The birth rate is definitely high and from this number, many will have no opportunity to acquire formal education, or probably acquire it in part because of the financial status or nonchalance of their parents. Therefore, the number of out of school children will yet increase in the country.
We therefore cannot keep quiet about this matter. Even though structures can be put in place to see how more individuals can access quality education; if this area is not dealt with, we may not make much progress. Before we face the government and cast blames, Parents must also begin to consciously take responsibility for the number of children they choose to have, and the total care of them. Education on family planning is definitely a necessary tool. In the times we are, many parents will tell you that the care of one child is really expensive if you are to give it all it takes; talk more of many children.
Recently, I saw on someone’s post online, about her visit to a hospital in a particular rural community. There, she met a woman who was pregnant for her 13th child, even though she was anemic (a condition of blood shortage). The location the person was reporting from is a poor community, where the standard of living is low. Since the woman cannot even take afford to care for herself, I want to wonder how the 12 other children are faring. She might not want to have more children knowing her state of health but I believe her husband wants more. So, family planning is an agreement between both Parents. One should bring forth the number of children they can cater for and this is a decision both parents must make. It is of great benefit to the family; the mother’s health, the wellbeing of the children and the finances of the family.
A lot of children suffer in many areas because their parents cannot cater for them. We have heard stories where up to 6 children are born into a poor family. And unfortunately, one parent becomes deceased, living the widowed parent to fend for the children alone. Sometimes, the children are distributed to stay with relatives, so that they can at least get help with their education. Some children fall into the hands of ill-meaning individuals called relatives and instead of attending school which was the original intention, they are turned to slaves and helps.
Asides being reduced to slaves, some are however still sent to just any school, anywhere. Their education is not priority at all to the family they now serve. They are just in school to pass time. Their academic progress is not monitored at all. They later on in life join the list of illiterate adults even though they claim to have attended school. I remember the sad story of a girl who got molested staying with a so-called uncle, just so she could at least attend school. She got infected with a disease and unfortunately died. This is a worst case scenario of what many children go through.
Who really can take care of your child more than you? That’s why you should look to having the number of children you can take responsibility for. It shouldn’t be left to chance. The awareness about family planning has been around for a long time but still many people shy away from it. This has caused many children to hang around hopelessly on the streets during school hours, not knowing what path their life should take. Not forgetting those that have been engaged in child labour; hawking and doing all manner of menial jobs to also contribute to their families’ feeding; turned to breadwinners at an early age. This should not be so.
Some parents have even turned the government schools to their dumping ground, “let them just go there, is it not school?” These children are seen tattered looking on a Monday morning and some without school sandals or even a notebook in hand for school. If the Parents are asked, their reason will be they have no money, right? But how can such a child do well academically without the right materials and support?
In the evening when others have returned home, they hang around in the school fields or on the streets playing, why? The house they are living in is not conducive for all the children, including the parents. If they dared go home early, the parents or guardian will chase them out again to go play so that there will be space. They will have to come back at night just to sleep. Not even having time to look through what they have been taught at school. Is this life style not going to expose them to bad friends and wrong doings?
Perhaps in our culture, the number of children shows power and prestige. But what if they cannot be catered for talk more of being sent to school, should we keep up with the so called power and prestige? Times are changing and we have to change too. If you desire so many, then provision should be made for them. Responsibility should be taken for them.
Catering for them does not just include feeding, there is more to a child’s needs than food, there are other needs; emotional, psychological, material and especially education, which forms the kind of adult the child eventually grows up to become.
Parenting is a deliberate intention. It’s not based on sentiments or wishful thinking. Family planning cannot be over flogged. The number of children one chooses to have must be carefully considered because it is directly related to the opportunity the children have to quality education which in turn affects the entire educational system of our county, Nigeria.