We’ve heard it a million times. The huge increase in our country’s population is not only a hindrance to the country’s economic growth but also to environment and human development. To solve the problem, we always hear people talk about family planning. But looking at the current state of our population, has family planning led us to anything?

The problem with population growth is not because it is too fast. The more pressing problem is that thousands of children are born into families who can’t even support them. These children aren’t given the chance to have a good education and so many are left unemployed. One thing leads to another. It is a cycle–a continuous cycle of poverty and ignorance that we can’t seem to break. We should not hesitate to say that the real problem is poverty, and our incapacity to reach out and help the poor.

We can see this cycle of poverty clearly by looking at the facts presented by the United States Census Bureau. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, family planning has become widespread in the Philippines, rising from about 20 percent in 1970 to 40 percent of married women of reproductive age in 1993. They further learned that the use of modern methods of contraception has gained steadily, rising from about 15.5 percent of married women of reproductive age in 1980 to 24.9 percent in 1990. However, there are still 2.5 million women who have “substantial unmet needs” for family planning. These unmet needs are highest among rural and less educated women – the ones with the highest fertility rate and the lowest level of contraceptive use.

If we want to improve the lives of the poor and to break this cycle plaguing our country for decades, it is not enough that we promote family planning methods and propose population control policies from time to time. We need to realize the root of the problem and to take a stand on what should be done. We need to cross economic and religious barriers that deny the poor of knowledge to become responsible parents. This way we can be sure that family planning could take us far.

Eya, 18, is a second year management student taking up a Science and Society subject.

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