The World Bank (WB) is canvass for the enrollment and completion of 12 years compulsory education for girls as a strategy for population control to enable smaller and healthier families.
Senior Education Specialist at World Bank Aisha Garba, stated this in Abuja during a media engagement meeting for effective reporting on demographic dividend organized by the National Population Commission (NPC) and supported by the World Bank
According to Garba, Girls education remains one of the main keys to fast-tracking Nigeria’s demographic transition, explaining that for each additional year of junior or senior secondary school the fertility rate of a girl reduces by 7%.
She noted that most girls who dropout from school are within their primary to junior secondary education stages, she therefore stressed the importance of completion of secondary education for girls if Nigeria must attain demographic transition.
Demographic transition is a long-term trend of declining birth and death rates, resulting in substantive change in the age distribution of a population.
The Education Specialist noted that countries like Bangladesh managed fertility rate by ensuring that girls stayed in school untill they are 20 years old before they can get married, expressing worry that the Federal government had pegged marriage at 18 yet this law is less effective especially in the northern parts of the country.
“Demographic Dividend (DD) is the economic benefits accumulated by a country when it undergoes a rapid decline in child mortality rate and birth rate resulting smaller healthier families,” she said.
“Young girls do not give birth until they are 10-13 years which is the age when they are in junior secondary, if she is allowed to complete senior secondary education she would be 18-19 and by the time she starts giving birth she is around 20years.
“So, instead of a girl to start giving birth at age 13 to have 4 or 5 kids at age 20, if she completes secondary school it means she would only start giving birth at 20 so we must ensure that girls should be enrolled in school and complete 12 years of education to drop fertility rate,” she urged.
“Bangladesh managed fertility by letting girls stay in school till they are 20 before they are married off, Nigeria law said no girl should be married until she is 18 but how effective is this law especially in the north?
“Instead of talking to parents verbally to stop marrying off their girls, they should enroll the girls in school and let them complete secondary education because the longer they stay in school the lesser the fertility rate, ” she added.
In her paper presentation, the National Project Coordinator Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE), Amina Buba Haruna, called for the review of education policies lamenting that at the basic education levels children are still unable to attain literacy after six years of primary school, stressing that urgent attention must be given to attainment of quality education .
Similarly, the Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank, Dr. Olumide Okunola, noted the importance of education to advancement of any country, stressing that it contributes to economic growth, innovation and technology advancement as well as contributes to peace and stability.