Declining Birth-Rates: A Rural Experience

In 2009, when The Bulungula Incubator opened the first preschool, the Jujurha Education Centre, our aim was to be able to accommodate all the children of pre-school age in the community. Over the following few years, we opened four additional preschools to meet the intake needs of each village, and year-on-year, intake numbers were fairly consistent. We began to notice a consistent annual decline in the number of children coming into the preschools in 2017.

“If we measure the capacity needs in our schools, in 2009 versus 2019, the decline is as much as 33%”

At the beginning of 2018, we went into the community to find out if there was something wrong with the schools. The parents assured us that all the children in the villages were, in fact, in our preschools.

So what is happening?

During the community visit, it became clear that the reason was the steady decline in birth-rates in the area. After discussions with young women in the area, we found that this was due to three significant reasons:

  1. The child mortality rate has declined. Now, a family does not have to have eight or nine children so that one or two survive. They can be confident that one or two have a high chance of survival.
  2. The Bulungula Incubator (BI) health programmes offer consistent and reliable access to contraceptives and family planning.
  3. Young women have the potential of finding jobs and an increasingly better quality of educational opportunities through the work of the BI. So, they are choosing to have fewer and fewer children.

These trends are encouraging as they reflect long-term and sustainable outcomes in the standard of living for all.

Expanding our reach

We are now working with our community and parent committees to open the preschools to neighbouring villages so that the resources benefit more families in the community. We hope to see an increase in the positive impact that these schools are having on the lives of more children and the community as a whole.

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