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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa 5 Education and Adolescent Fertility Any contemporary study of adolescent fertility inevitably confronts the topic of education. Throughout the world, formal schooling for women is the single most consistent correlate of their low fertility. 1 Yet within this general agreement is a question of perpetual contention: How, precisely, does education work this reproductive magic? Does it teach a woman Western scientific facts about reproduction and health, instruct her in the national language in which radio messages about contraception are broadcast, expose her to ideals of low fertility, extricate her from the authority of kin who demand high fertility, imbue her with career aspirations outside the home, embolden her to ask for contraceptives from intimidating family planning personnel or in the face of an irate husband? (For important reviews and statements, see Schultz, 1973; Leibenstein, 1974; Easterlin, 1975; Cochrane, 1979; Graff, 1979; Caldwell, 1982; Easterlin and Crimmins, 1985; Oppong and Abu, 1987; Cleland and Rodriguez, 1988.) Though each of these mechanisms undoubtedly plays some role, con- 1 To be sure, some analysts have argued that in the early stages of socioeconomic development, increased education may be associated with higher rather than lower fertility levels (see, for example, Nag, 1979; Page and Lesthaeghe, 1981). Through association with better health, education may enhance fecundity; it may also erode indigenous controls on fertility such as extended breastfeeding and postpartum abstinence. Eventually, however, most analysts agree that female education (sometimes used interchangeably with literacy) is negatively associated with fertility.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa vincing evidence to evaluate their various effects is virtually nonexistent. For Africa, these questions have undergone hardly any systematic scrutiny. In any event, as Graff (1979) cautions, it is easy to overestimate the virtues of Western education: Education, regardless of level, is seen most often as a simplistic quantity/quality, which affects attitudes/behavior ... in a linear ... and overwhelmingly progressive way [p. 125]. Instead, the contributions of education and literacy . . . should be viewed as less abstract and as more concretely dependent on contextual and structural correlates of the society under examination, as well as on the context and specific circumstances in which literacy is provided or acquired and the uses to which it is put ... [p. 134]. Following Graff's lead, we attempt to address the question of education as concretely as possible in relation to fertility among adolescents in the African context. This chapter and the next cover issues related to education (or, more broadly, training) and fertility. The first issue, covered in this chapter, concerns changes in formal education and why they are considered so important in the fertility equation. Education is usually assumed to affect fertility, rather than vice versa, because women usually acquire education in their youth and bear children as adults, after their education has ended. By the logic of temporal order, education is assumed to have imprinted women in ways that make them substantially alter their lifetime reproductive behavior. Though this assumption itself is problematic, our more limited focus is not mature women, but adolescent women whose reproductive careers have hardly begun. The question of causation is further complicated by the fact that among adolescents, several critical events may be happening concurrently or in rapid succession. A schoolgirl may have struck up a sexual relationship, her elders may have begun negotiations for her marriage, and her work plans may still be vague. Sorting out a sequence of events—the end of education, the beginning of reproduction—in such a complicated situation may bring us no closer to establishing cause: Individuals often make decisions less in response to past events than in anticipation of future ones. Still, by singling out adolescents for consideration, we raise the possibility that the opposite causal direction may apply: Those young women who manage to avoid childbearing may gain the opportunity to obtain advanced schooling. This chapter also examines whether education should be used to explain delays in adolescent fertility. We examine a variety of evidence that suggests that other factors may also be important in delaying entry into childbearing. The next chapter pursues this point as we consider other forms of training for adult life that may be significant in postponing childbearing.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa THE "CULTURE" OF FORMAL EDUCATION: AN EXAMPLE FROM SIERRA LEONE Although many African countries have low rates of enrollment in formal education, most people, both literate and illiterate, place enormous weight on the importance of schooling. We present a brief case study, that of Sierra Leone (Bledsoe, 1992), that gives a flavor of what can best be described as the culture of education in many African countries. To be sure, primary school enrollment rates in Sierra Leone are not unusually high, compared with those in other countries: The gross primary enrollment rate was 53 percent in 1988 (World Bank, 1988). Yet the country's modest enrollments only make it all the more compelling as a focus of study. Sierra Leone has been called the "Athens of West Africa," because high-quality formal schooling was established there quite early. Reacting to the horrors of slavery, an Englishman named Granville Sharp laid out a plan in 1786 for helping freed slaves and their descendants in England by creating a blueprint for a perfect society in West Africa, in which no one's labor could be coerced. Inspired by this Utopian vision, an initial group of settlers seeking to establish such a society set sail in 1787 for Sierra Leone. The cornerstone for their experiment was education, and setting up schools became an immediate priority. These historical events laid a powerful template for what can best be seen as the contemporary culture of education. Many young people today yearn to become educated in order to leave rural villages where farm work demands exhausting labor. They want to be literate; to wear well-tailored Western-style clothes; to speak English and Krio, the national linguae francae; and to acquire civil service or business jobs from which they can earn regular monthly wages, instead of relying on irregular seasonal harvests. The obstacles to realizing these ambitions, however, are myriad. Students must compete aggressively for admission, especially to secondary schools. Even for those who obtain places, tuition and school expenses require diverting family income from medical treatment, farm loans, and food purchases. Among those who are less fortunate, boys may be sent to learn skilled occupations with trade masters or to learn Arabic with an Islamic scholar; girls may be kept at home or sent to other families to be trained in domestic or trading skills. Most rural girls marry by age 17. In much of the country, a distinctive feature of a town of any size is the presence of local chapters of the region-wide secret Poro and Sande societies. For at least three or four centuries these societies have initiated local boys and girls, respectively, into their membership, and have claimed to control powerful knowledge from which low-ranked members and the uninitiated are excluded. The initiation period is considered a time of singular danger. If a female initiate must leave the enclosed "bush" temporarily, she
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa dons special ritual clothing and paints white chalk on her body to indicate that she is not at liberty to interact freely, especially with men, during her perilous liminal state. Though the Poro and the Sande continue to initiate practically all local children, a town of any size also boasts a contemporary sign of the times: a primary school. Local people comment that the Western outsiders whom they encounter lead an easy life largely because of their knowledge of the outside world and its wondrous technology. Those who desire a higher standard of living strive to send their children to school to acquire this special knowledge. Such schools are quite humble physically, often merely an open-walled, mud-brick structure with a corrugated iron roof. Sitting tightly packed, four or five to a bench, children take up the day's lessons. Because of the cost of paper, pens, and chalk (several times the actual cost of what it is in the United States), students in rural schools may learn the alphabet by tracing letters in the air or outside on the sand. But the eagerness to learn is so palpable that most children persist in their studies even in the face of extreme hardship. Larger towns may have several primary schools and perhaps a secondary school. But because the quality of education is considered crucial to a child's chances of success, many children living near schools with poor facilities or mediocre academic reputations leave to attend better schools. They live with relatives, friends, or patrons, and spend their free hours in the service of the household: caring for young children, cooking, cleaning, or hawking trade items. The schools most children would like to attend, whether private or public or run by Christian or Islamic missions, are in cities, where the education industry thrives. City newspapers advertise "institutes" that tutor students for college entrance exams and companies that claim access to overseas scholarships. Islamic ritual specialists, many of whom have never attended Western schools, do a thriving business among secondary school students, selling potions that are proclaimed to seal into memory the welter of facts presented during class. In better years in the past, most urban schools had ample supplies of books, paper, and chalk. Science labs were well equipped, and highly trained teachers were paid regularly. But even the memories of such halcyon days are dim. Since the early 1970s, education has been hard hit by economic problems, and opportunities for succeeding through education have been sharply curtailed. Even students who manage to finish secondary school, college, or professional school cannot be assured of finding good jobs. The number of white collar jobs in the national business and civil service bureaucracy has declined, and the qualifications required to compete for them have risen. Recession undermines the quality of even the wealthiest urban schools.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa In the face of these economic woes, some evidence suggests that families' inclinations to send their children to school are ebbing (International Labour Organisation, 1989). Families complain about the cost of schooling and express growing doubts about their ability to afford it. Rarely does one encounter parents who vow to keep all their children in school. Instead, there is more talk of which child to invest in. Despite these mounting hardships, children's own aspirations to go to school have not abated. Indeed, what is perceived as a growing scarcity of white collar jobs, and an inflation of job requirements has only intensified the national culture of education. Desires for schooling have produced a new seasonality; now, the annual cycle is as much affected by exam schedules and school holidays as by agricultural cycles. In September, the ferryboat crossing the harbor from Freetown to Lungi International Airport teems with older students from wealthy families heading off to boarding schools in Europe or the United States. Up-country, stores stock up on pencils, exercise books, and textbooks, and small tailor shops keep their apprentices working late to fill orders for uniforms. Throughout the day, children traveling from small villages with no schools to towns with schools climb out of dusty trucks. Clutching small valises or plastic bags filled with a few clothes, they make their way to the houses of the families who have agreed to take them in. As the school term comes to an end and exam time draws near, students all over town hover over study papers on verandas or under trees after school. Those from wealthy families write on paper with ballpoint pens to practice for exams; others write on the ground or abscond with school chalk to write on large metal water bins behind houses. Studying goes on into the night. Dim kerosene lamps shine through the cracks of window shutters as tired students worry into the night. After exams are over and the results announced, lorries and ferries fill again with children returning home with their all-important school report cards. During the holiday, many boys in secondary schools travel around the country, seeking money from relatives for school fees and expenses, making sure, if they did well, to bring their report cards with them. Desires for schooling produce an extraordinary degree of child mobility even on a weekly basis. Walking through even the smallest village with no school can be a quite different experience, from one day to the next. Because many children are fostered out to attend schools in large towns nearby, a visitor during the week is likely to get the impression of a quiet village of adults and a few young children. On the weekend, the missing segments of the population pyramid suddenly appear: Chattering schoolchildren come home to help their families with farm work. Chairs and porches are draped with drying uniforms in the official colors of schools in distant towns. Whereas only local languages may be spoken in a village during the week,
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa on the weekend young voices show off new language skills by calling out teasing greetings to Western visitors in English. For girls, education significantly changes their life prospects. Before education was available, a girl's training was directed toward her future roles as wife, farmer, and caretaker of children, and marriage confined her geographically and economically. Today, rural girls increasingly seek urban careers. Some go simply to be ''trained'' in domestic skills in urban households; others are trained in marketing. But many girls go to primary school, and a few go on to secondary school. Almost without exception, girls entering secondary school have ambitions to go on to college or professional schools. But, although the number of girls and boys beginning primary school is now roughly equal, the proportion of girls declines rapidly as puberty approaches. Rural families support a girl's goals for advanced education with mild enthusiasm at best. Her labor is needed in the household, and her early marriage to a wealthy man may underwrite the education of her younger brothers. But because a daughter who remains in school becomes more desirable as a wife for an urban man, her family elders may risk leaving her there against the chance that she will become pregnant and be forced to drop out. Schools are widely charged with keeping their students uncontaminated both by knowledge of, and experience in, reproduction while they prepare for adult life. Injunctions to avoid pregnancy permeate all aspects of school life, even down to the symbolism of a school uniform. Children who wear school uniforms are regarded with a mixture of respect and fear because of their potentials for achievement in the "civilized" world, with its esoteric mysteries and fearful powers. A girl's school uniform suggests that she is being prepared for marriage to a man of importance and as such should be treated with respect. More important, the symbolism attached to school uniforms, like attire worn by Sande society initiates, marks her as sexually unavailable. A teacher drew out these comparisons, implying that being pregnant and wearing a uniform are symbolically incompatible. For a schoolgirl who becomes pregnant, . . . the girl will still be in town and will feel ashamed to wear a uniform and return to school.... Legally, there is no problem with that, but the parents [of other students] would probably get upset. The students have to dress in uniforms. And here is a girl who has been pregnant, attended [prenatal] clinic, and even goes through the market every time she wants to attend clinic, with a big stomach.... The school will be cast as a sort of ... "big women's" school. That is, instead of school for children, you have schools for mothers. Public resentment at a schoolgirl becoming pregnant is conveyed in the negative image of an unkempt school uniform. An older girl with a dirty,
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa torn uniform is suspected of having no one to watch over her properly, rendering her vulnerable to men who might tempt her with food and money. The notion that reproducing is incompatible with training (Agounké et al., 1990) helps to explain the intense disapproval of adolescent mothers continuing in school. Affirmed a teacher in rural Sierra Leone, "[t]he schools in Sierra Leone do not generally admit girls who have given birth: mothers. She is not considered a schoolgirl again [any more]" (quoted in Bledsoe, 1990:293–294). In The Gambia, the headmaster of a rural secondary school regularly admonished his female students about their responsibilities to avoid sexual activity. His policy was "no visiting 'friends' [lovers], no marriage, no pills while learning" (Bledsoe, unpublished field notes, 1991). Any girl suspected of being pregnant was sent to the local prenatal health center to be checked. If pregnancy was discovered, she was expelled from school. According to a young female graduate of this school, the headmaster's philosophy was, ''If you just follow the boys, it means you don't want to learn." Schools have much to lose, she explained, by being too lenient. If the students begin to get pregnant it will become known as a ''prostitute school." Families, particularly of good students, will withdraw their children, and the school's scores on national exams will plummet, along with its academic reputation. LEVELS AND TRENDS IN FORMAL EDUCATION How do these detailed observations about schooling in one country play out against the wider backdrop of facts about education of women across the continent? Obvious parallels exist in countries where secondary education for women has increased. The situation is likely to be quite different, however, in countries where few girls attend school. School enrollments grew rapidly in the boom period from the 1960s to the 1980s (World Bank, 1988). Most African countries reported substantial increases in enrollment rates for primary school (the percentage of the relevant age group enrolled in primary school). As a result of this growth, those rates now exceed 90 percent in 13 of the 35 countries listed in Table 5-1. But despite these accomplishments, the average enrollment rate in sub-Saharan Africa remains lower than that on any other continent. In Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Somalia, fewer than 30 percent of those in the relevant age group were enrolled in primary school in the early 1980s. Table 5-1 also shows that secondary school enrollment rates are substantial in some countries but remain much lower than those for primary schools (as the differing definitions of low, medium, and so on, suggest). By the early 1980s, secondary school enrollment rates exceeded 50 percent in the Congo and Zaire. In 10 countries, however, fewer than 10 percent of the relevant age group were enrolled in secondary school in the early 1980s.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-1 African Countries by Percentage of Relevant Age Group Enrolled in Primary and Secondary School, 1983 Primary Enrollment Very Low (<30) Low (30–49) Medium (50–69) High (70–89) Nearly Universal Burkina Faso Burundi Benin Central African Angola Mali Chad The Gambia Republic Botswana Niger Ethiopia Malawi Côte d'Ivoire Cameroon Somalia Mauritania Rwanda Ghana Congo Senegal Liberia Gabon Sierra Leone Mozambique Kenya Uganda Nigeria Lesotho Tanzania Madagascar Swaziland Togo Zaire Zambia Zimbabwe Secondary Enrollmenta Very Low (<10) Low (10–24) Low (10–24) Medium (25–49) High (50+) Burkina Faso Angola Kenya Ghana Congo Burundi Benin Lesotho Togo Zaire Chad Botswana Liberia Swaziland Malawi Central African Madagascar Zimbabwe Mali Republic Mauritania Mozambique Cameroon Nigeria Niger Côe d'Ivoire Senegal Rwanda Ethiopia Sierra Leone Tanzania Gabon Somalia Uganda The Gambia Zambia a middle schools that require only four years of education. SOURCE: World Bank (1988:Tables A-7, A-8, pp. 131–132). Secondary school enrollment grew faster from 1960 to 1980 than did primary school enrollment: 13.8 versus 6.6 percent (World Bank, 1988). Enrollment rates of girls are lower, in general, than those of boys. In 1970, 32 percent of girls and 63 percent of boys aged 6–12 were in primary school in Africa (World Bank, 1988); by 1980 the percentages had increased to 58 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Although girls account for 40 to 50 percent of primary enrollees in most countries, in Benin and Chad no more than a third of the primary school students are girls (see Table 5-2).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-2 Girls as a Percentage of Total School Enrollment, 1960, 1970, 1983 Primary Secondary Country 1960 1970 1983 1960 1970 1983 Angola 33 36 46 40 42 33 Benin 28 31 33 27 30 28 Botswana 59 53 53 48 46 54 Burkino Faso 29 37 37 27 28 34 Burundi 24 33 40 37 20 37 Cameroon 33 43 46 17 29 38 Central African Republic 19 33 35 15 19 26 Chad 11 25 27 7 8 15 Congo 34 44 49 28 30 41 CÜte d'Ivoire 26 36 41 12 22 29 Ethiopia 24 31 38 14 25 36 Gabon 38 48 49 16 29 40 The Gambia 31 31 38 26 24 31 Ghana 35 43 44 27 38 37 Kenya 32 41 48 32 30 40 Lesotho 62 60 58 53 54 60 Liberia 29 33 40 16 23 29 Madagascar 44 46 48 33 40 44 Malawi 36 37 42 22 27 29 Mali 28 36 37 17 22 28 Mauritania 19 28 39 5 11 24 Mozambique 38 34 43 36 38 30 Niger 30 35 36 17 27 27 Nigeria 37 37 n.a. 21 32 n.a. Rwanda 31 44 48 35 33 34 Senegal 32 39 40 27 29 33 Sierra Leone 34 40 41 27 28 28 Somalia 25 24 36 9 16 34 Swaziland 50 49 50 45 44 49 Tanzania 34 39 49 32 29 35 Togo 28 31 39 23 22 25 Uganda 32 40 43 21 25 33 Zaire 27 37 43 24 22 28 Zambia 40 45 47 23 33 36 Zimbabwe 45 45 48 36 39 40 NOTE: n.a. = not available. SOURCE: World Bank (1988:Table A-1, p. 125).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Sex imbalances in enrollment rates intensify at the secondary and university levels. In 1970, 2 percent of women and 6 percent of men aged 18–23 were enrolled in secondary schools or universities. The corresponding percentages for 1980 were 5 percent and 11 percent (Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a). Table 5-2 shows that by 1983, the proportion of girls among secondary school students exceeded 40 percent in only 8 of the 35 countries listed. The southern region stands out as having relatively high levels of girls in secondary schools. High levels of male labor migration may be part of the explanation. Despite overall increases in secondary education, the World Bank (1988) reports, increases in primary school enrollments slowed between 1980 and 1983, and in several countries (Togo, Somalia, Tanzania, Liberia, and Nigeria) total enrollment declined. Between 1960 and 1980, increases in secondary school enrollment rates also tapered off in several countries; and in a few countries, such as Angola, Liberia, and Togo, the numbers enrolled in secondary schools actually declined. Economic crisis and the implementation of structural adjustment programs are likely central factors. In several countries the percentage of gross national product (GNP) expended for education declined markedly in the early 1980s. In Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, such declines began as early as 1975 (World Bank, 1988). It is too early to tell how these cuts in expenditures have affected either total levels of educational attainment or sex imbalances in education in these countries. So far, according to Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from the late 1980s, there has been little obvious decline in the levels of female education (see Table 5-3). Still, the fact that in Liberia and Togo, women aged 15–19 have lower literacy rates than women aged 20–24 may indicate that increases in female education are tapering off. (Liberia's case must be assessed carefully, however, because political strife since 1980 has likely disrupted schooling.) The quality of schooling is allegedly decreasing as well (see, for example, World Bank, 1988), though it is difficult to document this change reliably. Still, public perception is that the quality as well as the availability of education is suffering. The following statements are representative: School kids to roam streets: More than 40,000 school children in Nigeria's Gongola State will not be able to enter secondary schools in September because of lack of state funds. The Government has said that only 12,607 of primary school pupils eligible for secondary education would be admitted due to the State's limited resources [Concord Weekly, Nigeria, July 27, 1984, p. 13]. In Uganda a Light of Learning Dims: [An article that documents the financial hardship of students and faculty. New York Times, January 24, 1991.]
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-3 Highest Level of Formal Education Attained, Women Aged 15–19 and 20–24, Selected Sub-Saharan African Countries: Percentage in Age Group Primary or Higher Secondary or Higher Country 15–19 20–24 15–19 20–24 Botswana 95 85 38 35 Burundi 27 22 1 3 Ghana 81 69 60 54 Kenya 95 92 21 35 Liberia 63 52 22 31 Mali 24 18 0 2 Nigeria 66 58 34 31 Senegal 32 29 14 11 Togo 62 55 16 18 Uganda 79 70 12 14 Zimbabwe 98 93 50 51 SOURCE: Demographic and Health Surveys Standard Recode Files, weighted data. In South Africa, a "Lost Generation": Schooled only in struggle, the young ponder their future. [An article that documents the loss of education of the generation that took part in the Soweto school boycotts. New York Times, September 19, 1990.] EDUCATIONAL INFLUENCES ON ADOLESCENT FERTILITY This section discusses the influence of education on fertility. However, the causation can also run in the other direction, that is, adolescent fertility can affect education. We consider both possibilities in turn. Some studies report a curvilinear relationship between fertility and education: high fertility among women with no education, even higher among those with some primary education, and lowest among those with secondary education (Cochrane, 1979; Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a; Agounké et al., 1990; République de Côte d'Ivoire, 1990; République du Cameroun, no date). But most studies conclude that fertility declines significantly as education increases. How adolescent fertility fits the contours of this generalization is less clear. The Demographic and Health Surveys include data on the highest level of school attended: none, primary, secondary, or higher. Questions on other forms of education such as trade apprenticeships and ritual initiations were not included. Table 5-4 shows the percentage of women aged 20–24 at the time of the surveys in DHS countries who gave birth before age 20, by
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-7 Knowledge of Fecund Period and Ever-Use of Contraceptives by Education and Weekly Listening: Percentage of Women Aged 15–24 Level of Education Listens to Radio Characteristic and Country None Primary Secondary and Higher Yes No Knowledge of Fecund Period Botswana 1 3 8 4 2 Burundi 15 23 70 22 16 Ghana 18 29 55 32 21 Kenya 18 20 34 25 18 Liberia 5 5 14 8 3 Mali 10 19 a 13 11 Senegal 5 15 40 11 6 Togo 15 34 64 40 21 Uganda 6 10 27 15 17 Zimbabwe 4 5 13 n.a. n.a. Ever-Use of Contraceptives Botswana 43 56 68 42 60 Burundi 21 23 46 27 20 Ghana 22 29 64 41 27 Kenya 31 20 53 43 30 Liberia 10 5 61 27 10 Mali 15 19 a 21 15 Senegal 32 15 38 31 37 Togo 67 34 74 71 65 Uganda 11 10 47 31 16 Zimbabwe 65 5 46 n.a. n.a. NOTE: n.a. = not available. a Fewer than 25 cases. SOURCE: Demographic and Health Surveys Standard Recode Files, weighted data. among women who attended primary school than among those with no formal education. But in most countries significant increases in reproductive knowledge do not appear until secondary school. To be sure, education does not always improve knowledge about reproduction. In Botswana, Liberia, and Zimbabwe, only about one in ten women with secondary or higher education could identify the fecund period. And in teacher training colleges in Kenya fewer than 60 percent of the women in the sample of trainees could identify that period (Ferguson et al., 1988), though they knew more about reproduction then did uneducated women. School, of course, is not the only source from which women can learn how to prevent unwanted births. Friends, health clinics, women's associa-
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-8 Percentage of Women Aged 15–19 and 20–24 Who Listen to the Radio Weekly and Who Remember Hearing a Family Planning Message Listens to Radio Weekly Heard Family Planning Message Country 15–19 20–24 15–19 20–24 Botswana 79 81 n.a. n.a. Burundi 33 31 n.a. n.a. Ghana 45 51 n.a. n.a. Kenya 72 78 65 76 Liberia 70 74 n.a. n.a. Mali 52 50 n.a. n.a. Nigeriaa 71 74 n.a. n.a. Senegal 66 74 n.a. n.a. Togo 30 35 n.a. n.a. Uganda 39 43 n.a. n.a. Zimbabwe n.a. n.a. 7 10 NOTE: n.a = not available. a Figures for Nigeria refer to Ondo State only. SOURCE: Demographic and Health Surveys Standard Recode Files, weighted data. tion, husbands, can provide such information as well. A potentially rich source of information is the media (Senderowitz and Paxman, 1985; Gachuhi, 1986; Barker and Rich, 1990; Piotrow et al., 1990; Barker et al., 1991). In most African countries, radio broadcasts reach much of the young adult population aged 15–24. In countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria, family planning and health messages are broadcast regularly on the radio and/or television, often in local languages or through drama or musical performances (République du Mali, 1988; Rimon et al., 1988; Church and Geller, 1989; Piotrow et al., 1990). Table 5-8 displays the percentages of women aged 15–19 and 20–24 who report that they listen to the radio weekly and, for two countries only, remember hearing a family planning message. The crucial question, of course, is how listening to the radio may affect reproductive knowledge. Taking first the issue of knowledge, the DHS results displayed in Table 5-7 confirm that women aged 15–24 who listen to the radio weekly have more accurate knowledge of the fecund period than those who do not. The results also show that there is much more knowledge among secondary school attendees than among radio listeners. However, in almost all countries, women who listen to the radio weekly know the fecund period as
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa accurately as do women who attended primary school, if not more so. In fact, in some instances, the radio messages are more effective than secondary or higher education. In separate calculations for Ondo State, Nigeria, women who listen to the radio weekly are slightly more knowledgeable about the reproductive cycle than women with secondary or higher education—about 22 and 20 percent, respectively. Associations in the DHS data between radio listening and use of contraceptives are even more striking than those for knowledge about reproduction. In most countries, women from 15 to 24 who listened to the radio were far more likely than primary school attendees to have used contraceptives. The Kenya DHS pressed further, asking women specifically whether they had heard family planning messages on the radio. Our calculations (not shown) revealed that at every educational level, women who reported hearing family planning messages on the radio were more likely than those who did not to know the fecund period and to use contraception. In fact, women with secondary or higher education who reported they had not heard radio family planning messages were only slightly more likely to use contraceptives than women with no education at all who heard these messages. It is by no means clear, of course, that radio messages actually teach women about reproduction or induce them to use contraception. These results simply suggest that the content of formal education, at least through primary school and quite frequently through secondary school, may be less effective than conventional wisdom suggests in changing reproductive behavior or in imparting knowledge of the reproductive cycle. Clearly, women's behavior concerning fertility, as well as their reproductive knowledge and contraceptive use, vary with their education. However, many of the differentials presented above underscore the presence of threshold effects between primary and secondary school education in Africa. Because women with secondary schooling or more still account for only a small proportion of African women, the influences of formal education on adolescent fertility should not be overemphasized. WHY DO SCHOOLGIRLS BECOME PREGNANT? The earlier description of Sierra Leone suggested that schoolgirls should be off limits sexually. Yet schoolgirls do become pregnant, with what some regard as shocking frequency. Regardless of her age, many African societies view a girl as an adult, or at least a non-child, after she gives birth: They expect her to assume adult responsibilities and to terminate her education (Mwateba et al., 1988). Most students have been sent to school less to better themselves as individuals, than to serve as representatives of families that seek to better themselves. A family may have sacrificed a great deal to educate one child out of a set of siblings, and may have spent considerable
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa time selecting and preparing that child. For a girl who carries such hopes, pregnancy is a serious family tragedy. Why, then, do such pregnancies occur? Some researchers posit poor school performance as a prime cause of pregnancy-related school dropouts. In a Kenyan study more than one in three of the girls in the bottom 25 percent in school achievement dropped out because they were pregnant, compared with only one in seven of the best students (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). The difference may arise because poor students must repeat classes, thus exposing them to the risk of pregnancy for a longer period. But it is mainly those girls who do not perform well in school, whether because of poor ability or the press of chores at home, who have the least to gain from staying in school (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). Some low achievers may deliberately try to become pregnant in order to drop out of school (National Institute of Development Research and Documentation, University of Botswana, 1988; Dynowski-Smith, 1989). Again, however, separating poor achievement from economic handicaps is difficult. In Kenya community-funded (''Harambee'') secondary schools, which typically enroll students from poorer families, had pregnancy-related dropout rates more than twice as high as government-maintained and private schools (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). Another piece of evidence that supports the argument for economic hardship is that boarders and students in girls-only schools in Kenya had lower dropout rates than did day students and those in coeducational boarding schools, even though boys and girls are housed separately (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). Related to economic hardship and academic difficulties is a final source of schoolgirl pregnancies: "sugar daddies." Secondary education, especially, requires substantial commitments of cash for school fees, uniforms, books, school supplies, and examination fees. Because families usually place priority on boys' educations, girls are less able to buy essential materials; so to help finance their education, some girls strike up sexual relationships with wealthy older men, their sugar daddies, who may provide places to live and money for food, as well as school fees and expenses (Busia, 1950; Schapera, 1971; Dinan, 1983; Brandon and Bledsoe, 1988; Brokensha, 1988). The payoff is judged worth the risk of becoming pregnant because the financial support that girls receive allows them to remain in school, as long as they can avoid pregnancy (see, for example, Acquah, 1958, for Accra). Akuffo (1987), studying a small Ghanaian town, found that about 93 percent of girls aged 15–19 had boyfriends who were employed, including some teachers (see also Bleek, 1976). So common has the sugar-daddy pattern become, that in rural Ghana over the last 40 years, the basis for imposing fines on men for pregnancy has been shifted from adultery to relations with schoolgirls (Vellenga, 1974).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa There is some danger in overestimating the prevalence of the sugar-daddy syndrome. Schoolgirls are a highly visible and countable subsection of the female population, and families are understandably vocal about losing their return on years of school fee payments in cases of pregnancy. Yet, we cannot assume that the syndrome is everywhere a major cause of school pregnancy. The Kenyan Ministry of Health reports that schoolboys are responsible for most schoolgirl pregnancies in that country (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). Nor can we assume that sugar daddies always provide much support. Because parents usually pay most of girls' costs during their training, it may be ancillary expenses—clothes, uniforms, and pocket money—that are earned through sexual companionship (Akuffo, 1987). Even in Botswana, where most schoolgirls' lovers were adult men and not their schoolmates, only 11 percent of all mothers of out-of-wedlock children reported receiving support (National Institute of Development Research and Documentation, University of Botswana, 1988). But, the tremendous intercountry and intracountry variation in the frequency of sugar-daddy-schoolgirl situations makes it difficult to draw any general conclusions from the limited information cited for one or two countries. EFFECTS OF ADOLESCENT FERTILITY ON EDUCATION Trying to untangle the causal relation between fertility and education is not an easy task. Earlier we presented evidence that educational attainment affects fertility desires and behavior, as well as contraceptive use. Yet the preceding section described some strong evidence that adolescent fertility also affects educational attainment. In the past, when girls had few expectations of formal education, pregnancy posed little disruption in a young woman's life course. Pregnancy was, and still is, encouraged, especially in areas where women marry young. Nowadays, pregnancy decisively mars the prospects of girls who hope to pursue their education. In countries where secondary education is a real option, a schoolgirl may walk a fine line between pregnancy and motherhood, on the one hand, and, on the other, finishing an education, obtaining a prestigious urban job, and marrying a monogamous man. The widespread perception is that a girl who becomes pregnant in school and drops out may have to accept a low-paid job, enter a premature marriage, or become the head of an impoverished household, relying on meager assistance from her family and the children's fathers. Gyepi-Garbrah (1985a:22–23) writes: The plight of pregnant schoolgirls in Africa is particularly wrenching. They must either terminate their pregnancy by taking recourse in abortion in order to continue their education, or drop out of school either on their own volition or on pain of threatened official expulsion . . . . When girls drop
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa out of school because of pregnancy, their future socio-economic prospects are significantly reduced. Stories in the popular press frequently confirm that having a child effectively terminates a girl's education (Akuffo, 1987; Bledsoe, 1990). Interview data suggest that many local people hold this perception as well. One young Nigerian woman stressed that parents discourage sex for their adolescent daughters "[b]ecause the parents want them to finish school" (quoted in Hollos and Leis, 1989:121). Kenya is another country where advancement in education may be contingent on low fertility. Most teacher training colleges reportedly use pregnancy screening as a prerequisite to admission, although this practice is extremely controversial even among the staff (Ferguson et al., 1988). The more common way in which fertility affects education is that girls who become pregnant drop out of school, often through pressure from explicit policies that expel them and discourage them from returning after giving birth (République du Mali, 1988; Adje, 1992). Numerical evidence, though spotty, supports these observations that early fertility precludes further education. Botswana was the only DHS country that included a direct question about whether a woman had dropped out of school because of a pregnancy. Reproduced in Table 5-6, these Botswana results show that 14 percent of primary school attendees and 15 percent of secondary school attendees had dropped out because of pregnancy—estimates that are probably low. Among the primary school dropouts, only 20 percent subsequently reenrolled, and only 17 percent of secondary school dropouts did so. A number of studies concur that many young women drop out of school as a result of pregnancy (Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a). In Kenya, a study conducted in 1985 estimated that about 10 percent of female students drop out of secondary school because they are pregnant (Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988; Barker and Rich, 1990). In 1986, 11,000 Kenyan girls dropped out as a result of pregnancy (Kiragu, 1988). In the Machakos area, 27 percent of families reported having a teenage daughter who dropped out of school because of pregnancy (Maggwa, 1987, cited in Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988). In Mali, in the years 1983–1987, 10 percent of female secondary school students were dismissed because of pregnancy (République du Mali, 1988); and in Zambia it is estimated that 2 percent of all primary and secondary schoolgirls were expelled from school because of pregnancy (Senderowitz and Paxman, 1985). (For Ghana, see Akuffo, 1987; and Oppong and Abu, 1987.) Pregnancy-related dropouts are widespread even at advanced levels. A survey of women in Kenya's teacher training colleges indicated that annual pregnancy-related dropout rates among enrolled women students were 7.1 percent in 1986 and 6.4 percent in 1987 (Ferguson et al., 1988).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Pregnancy rates, of course, exceed dropout rates due to pregnancy. Some girls who become pregnant near the end of their courses are allowed to complete their programs (Ferguson et al., 1988; Hollos and Leis, 1989). But many cases of schoolgirl pregnancies go unrecorded. Some girls withdraw quickly from school on other pretexts when they discover their pregnancies and go to live with distant relatives. They return after giving birth, leaving the baby with the relatives. The most controversial fate of many schoolgirl pregnancies is abortion. A number of girls reportedly resort to this strategy to avoid detection and expulsion (see, for example, Bleek, 1978; Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a; Senderowitz and Paxman, 1985; Nichols et al., 1986; Akuffo, 1987; Nichols et al., 1987; République de Côte d'Ivoire, 1990). Because a substantial proportion of young women conceive while at school or training institutions, the option of abortion is an important factor in their educational prospects (Oppong and Abu, 1987). Although most girls must drop out when their pregnancies are discovered, what are their prospects for resuming education? Some countries have relatively accommodating policies concerning the readmission of young women who have been pregnant or given birth. In Kenya, schoolgirls who become pregnant are required to discontinue their studies for at least a year (Ferguson et al., 1988). Policies in many countries are much stricter; they decree that pregnant schoolgirls be expelled permanently. Table 5-9 summarizes the available evidence on policies related to schoolgirl pregnancy in eight sub-Saharan countries. All eight favor some form of expulsion, in many cases without provision for reentry after giving birth. Even in the most liberal countries, a combination of policies, economic circumstances, and informal social pressures discourages all but the most advanced or determined students from reenrolling after a pregnancy. A few countries allow girls who have given birth to apply for readmission or for admission to a school other than the one they left (Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a). But few girls do so. In Botswana, the DHS revealed, fewer than 20 percent return to school after a pregnancy. Part of the reason is that in rural areas with widely scattered schools, the policy of requiring adolescent mothers to apply to other schools would force most girls to move to other towns, leaving their families to care for the child (Dynowski-Smith, 1989). Gyepi-Garbrah (1985a:22–23) elaborates other reasons: The problems involved in obtaining admission into another school and in caring for a child without sufficient backup support, are usually too demanding and expensive for the teenage mother. The very few who secure admission lose one year and thus, may not qualify to enter the very good secondary schools because of age restrictions in the selection process. Child care itself imposes constraints on many would-be returnees. In theory, young mothers might return to school after giving birth by leaving
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 5-9 Policies Related to Schoolgirl Pregnancy, Selected Sub-Saharan African Countries Country and Study Policy Botswana National Institute of Development Research Documentation, University of Botswana, 1988 Pregnant schoolgirls are required to discontinue education for at least one year, and cannot return to the same school. Teacher training colleges have similar practices but girls may return to the same college. The University of Botswana does not require pregnant girls to drop out. Dynowski-Smith, 1989 Pregnant schoolgirls are required to discontinue education for at least one year and cannot return to the same school. The Ministry of Education's policy is that a married person cannot attend primary or secondary school. Kenya Ferguson et al., 1988 Pregnant schoolgirls are required to discontinue education for at least one year. Division of Family Health/GTZ Support Unit, 1988 Most teachers oppose the idea of readmitting girls who dropped out because of pregnancy because they are a bad role model for other girls. Ferguson et al., 1988 Most colleges use pregnancy screening as a prerequisite for admission. Liberia (Monrovia) Nichols et al., 1987 Most secondary schools do not allow pregnant girls to continue their studies. Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a Pregnant schoolgirls are allowed to transfer to night school. Mali République du Mali, 1988 Primary and secondary schoolgirls who become pregnant are expelled. Girls in the lycdcées are allowed to return to school after one year. Married persons are not admitted to primary and secondary schools, but they are admitted to professional secondary schools. Nigeria Nichols et al., 1986 Most schools require pregnant girls to drop out. Senderowitz and Paxman, 1985 Expulsion. Tanzania Ferguson et al., 1988 Expulsion (also for boys).. Mwateba et al., 1988 Dares-Salaam Youth Center established in 1986 to assist pregnancy-related dropouts Togo Agounké et al., 1990 Pregnant girls are required by law to drop out of school. Zambia Senderowitz and Paxman, 1985 Expulsion. Zambia (Lusaka) Standing and Kisekka, 1989 Expulsion.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa their babies with their families, but there is little evidence that they do so. Are female students who are mothers, few though they be, more likely to have children living away than are their peers who do not go to school? Unfortunately, though many of the young women aged 15–19 in some countries must have been students, neither the World Fertility Survey nor the Demographic and Health Survey asked them (or other women) whether they were still in school. A few individual surveys, however, provide some evidence. Surprisingly, according to a study in Côte d'Ivoire, 30 percent of schoolgirls who dropped out because of pregnancy returned after the delivery (République de Côte d'Ivoire, 1990); but most of those who returned reported that they could do so only because their parents or their partner's parents had been able to take care of the child. Some young women may not have such fostering opportunities. Although pregnant schoolgirls in Monrovia, Liberia, were allowed to transfer to night school, few could do so because of childcare difficulties (Gyepi-Garbrah, 1985a; see also Oppong and Abu, 1987). Whereas strict policies limit educational achievements, informal social pressures may be equally effective. As a young woman in Sierra Leone related, people often taunt an adolescent mother who tries to return to school, and use her past to shame her: When you get pregnant, that is virtually the end of your schooling. Of course, you can now try to come back to the same school, but sometimes you will get mocked, making you very afraid to come back . . . . Others will taunt [you], saying "koi-ma" [literally, "stomach-on," referring figuratively to a woman who has home a baby]. [Quoted from Bledsoe, 1990:294.] Clearly, when childbearing begins, education usually stops. Women who begin to bear children young will have little chance to continue their education. Conversely, women who delay childbearing—whether they use abstinence, abortion, or contraception—or soften its consequences by fostering out their infants, can continue their education. It is important to reiterate that there is tremendous heterogeneity among African countries in the number of teenage girls who attend school. Although cases of pregnancy-related school dropouts draw considerable publicity, in some countries the total number of cases may be quite small. On the other hand, the number of pregnancy-related dropouts is larger than we might suspect if we confined the analysis to secondary school students: Because of liberal age guidelines for enrolling in school in many countries, many teenage schoolgirls are still in primary school. These girls run similar risks to those of their age peers in secondary school.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa CONCLUSION As shown in Chapter 4, preparation for childbearing is a key component of sanctioned reproduction in Africa. This chapter has examined the most prestigious form of contemporary preparation for adult life: formal education. We have seen that primary and secondary enrollment rates, especially those for women, rose rapidly in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. Even widespread declines in public expenditures in the early 1980s have so far had little effect on the percentage of women aged 15–24 who attended primary or secondary school. Enrollment rates for women also rose more rapidly over the period than did those for men, so that the ratio of boys to girls enrolled in school came into better balance. How have these dramatic changes in education of women over the last 20 years affected adolescent fertility? Before education became widely available to them, girls were trained for roles as wives and mothers. Today, many have ambitions outside the home in the formal labor market, and they often delay childbearing in order to acquire more education. Not surprisingly, the probability of giving birth as a teenager is slightly lower for women with primary education than for women with no education, and much lower for women with secondary or higher education. In trying to explain these results, we have avoided the conventional assumption that educational achievement necessarily lowers fertility because we are dealing with adolescents, among whom this kind of causality may be reversed: Reproductive events may curtail opportunities for formal education. Certainly the fact that schoolgirl pregnancies are usually followed by dropping out indicates that the usual logic of temporal order may not apply. Without becoming embroiled in the intractable debate about the direction of the education-fertility relationship, we stress that social changes are shaping both education and adolescent fertility. What we can say with some confidence is that education holds out rewards of social and economic advancement to girls who can delay childbearing to pursue their schooling. Equally powerful are the negative sanctions that discourage pregnancy. Although some observers have argued that formal education increases premarital fertility by eroding traditional checks on sexuality and by increasing promiscuity among unsupervised adolescents, such arguments seldom take into account the very real threats of expulsion from school that girls face if they become pregnant. Obviously, such strictures fail in many instances, as the proportion of schoolgirl pregnancies attests. Still, the overall effects of school policies that discourage reproduction are undoubtedly quite powerful. One of the most important social changes that shapes the education-fertility relationship among adolescents is marriage. If overall fertility among
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa adolescents in Africa is changing less dramatically than premarital fertility (or, perhaps more accurately, the proportion of children without full paternal recognition), what role does education play in this trend? Both DHS data and ethnographic descriptions leave little doubt that marriage, like fertility, almost always terminates a woman's education. Indeed, although a number of girls withdraw early from school because of pregnancy, others withdraw because their families pull them out of school to give them to husbands. Conversely, a girl who delays marriage—or a sanctioned procreative relationship with a man—has a better chance than others do of going on in school. Yet for educated women, delaying marriage may also precipitate what we call premarital pregnancies simply because such women may prefer to label themselves as unmarried. Despite the stigma they suffer, this strategy may leave the door open wider to the possibility, however remote, of resuming schooling at a later date. In the realms of both marriage and fertility, then, education appears to have the effect of elongating the period separating menarche from fertility and marriage—or what women are willing to call marriage—and of expanding the probability that a woman will have a premarital conception. Schooling may also make marital status itself even more ambiguous than it was before: Young women at certain junctures of the conjugal process who previously would have declared themselves to be married may now be quite ambivalent about proceeding with a certain conjugal relationship. Trying to keep their options open, they may be more likely to declare themselves as unmarried. The assertion that many young women nowadays would like to delay fertility in order to pursue training that prepares them for adult responsibilities should arouse little argument. Yet Chapter 4 stresses that education is only one of many other avenues of preparation for adult life—and thus childbearing—in Africa. The notion that training, more broadly defined, may affect the onset of childbearing is relatively unexplored in the literature on fertility. To flesh out its dimensions, the next chapter turns from schooling to other forms of training.
Representative terms from entire chapter: