Nigeria is currently the seventh most populous country in the world and the most populous country in Africa with more than 190 million people. There is no sign of a slowdown either. Nigeria's population is continuing to grow at an annual rate of 2.6%, and by the year 2050, it is projected that Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world with more than 400 million people.
Naturally, one of the main contributing factors of Nigeria's astounding population growth is the fertility rate of women in the country. The total fertility rate (i.e., children per woman) in Nigeria was at 5.7 in 2010–2015. What's more worrying, however, is that the adolescent birth rate (i.e. the number of births per one thousand women aged 15–19) was 117 in 2010–2015. To put things in perspective, the average world fertility rate was at 2.5 in the same time period, while the average adolescent birth rate across the world was 46.
Why might high fertility be a concern? The fact of the matter is, high fertility is a significant contributing factor to human overpopulation. Overpopulation is placing a strain on our planet, causing a scarcity in natural resources such as drinking water (which is already running out in South Africa) and food, accelerated climate change due to increased carbon emission and other pollution, deteriorating habitats, and the extinction of various species. Within a given country, a congestion of humans leads to unemployment and poverty, which in turn leads to a poor quality of life and impeded economic development. Currently, Nigeria's population growth is placing a huge strain on the country's public infrastructure and development, with not enough education opportunities being made available and unemployment being at an all-time high.
While there are a number of factors that affect fertility rates within a country (such as the social and cultural norms of the country), education is one of the factors that play a huge role. The level of education a woman possesses influences her childbearing on several facets:
While both male and female education have an influence on fertility rate, the knowledge and opportunities that become available to females due to their attainment of education likely have a greater effect on the path they take in life and the number of children they end up having. With the appropriate enforcement of public policy, provision of sufficient funding and achievement of gender parity in education, Nigeria's population could be kept under control, leading to a more stable future for its people.
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