Friday, September 06, 2013

How to Eradicate Poverty (A Simplistic Approach)

Earlier today, while thinking about a roadside mechanic in Ibadan who reportedly has TWELVE children, I developed a simplistic two-pronged approach to eradicate poverty in Nigeria and possibly other developing countries. It is not refined yet, but it is hot – so I thought to share:

1.    Teach / help people to have fewer children. The days when almost every family subsisted on produce from their farms are behind us. Back then – the larger the family, the larger the supply of ‘free labor’ – but times have changed. Today, with rising costs for everything from education to healthcare, extra-large families are no longer an asset. Many parents – their hands full with the struggle to put food on the table – cannot adequately monitor their children’s progress or afford to provide them with quality education. In a world with limited supplies of time and money – both of which are essential for raising children – it is only reasonable that people expend these resources on a fewer number of children. A mechanic who earns N30,000 a month can raise two children with more quality than if he has twelve! So far as I see it, this is unassailable logic. I must also add that fewer children equals less demand on public resources.

Given that we all can't choose where we were born or who we were born to, this could well have been me - or you...
2.    Teach / help people to prioritize the education of their (fewer) children. I deeply believe the greatest gift a parent can bequeath their children is a sound education. Do not misunderstand me: I do not imply the four walls of a school, a University degree, or the zombie graduates being churned out of many Nigerian tertiary institutions. While formal education is desirable up to a certain level, even for children who choose apprenticeships over University degrees, it is not the ultimate. What I refer to is the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning. For example, there is nothing wrong with a young person who becomes an excellent auto-mechanic and goes on to own a quality auto-shop. Education empowers people and broadens their thinking; educated people are better placed to plug into opportunities to create wealth and develop their families and societies.

I am convinced there is a lot of hope for the eventual reduction or eradication of poverty if people have fewer children and pay more attention to their long-term learning and development – and all other things remain equal.

They say I need to install a dam in my eyes, but I couldn't keep the tears back when I saw this picture
This is still quite simplistic and unrefined – and a lot more needs be done to make these thoughts into a proper ‘policy statement’ – but I will take this and work to build a more compelling case for poverty eradication through population control and quality education.

Cheers to the weekend!

Forget all the tweets and display pictures saying “The world spent $1735 billion on war in 2012; it would take approximately $135 billion to end poverty.” Na lie. I do not believe that you can end poverty by throwing money at it. We couldn't end poverty even if we shared $10,000 to every 'poor' person on earth. The money would all be gone again in a few months or years.

1 comment:

  1. Very true!!! We need a re-orientation of our minds as well. Most people will say, being a mechanic is 'degrading'. Nice write-up!