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‘Make primary schoolers study family planning’



GUWAHATI, Feb 20: Students from Class I in Assam will have to study about benefits of small family and danger of giving more births.

A draft population policy submitted to the Assam government by an expert panel has recommended that population study should be made an integral part of the school curriculum right from elementary level, so as to make students aware of ill effects of population explosion from a very early stage of life.

The BJP-led coalition soon after assuming power in Assam last year constituted a high-powered committee to chalk out a comprehensive population policy for the State. The committee was headed by commissioner & secretary of Health and Family Welfare department Samir Kumar Sinha.

“Once students are educated, half the efforts of the government to control population already become successful. Students in turn can educate their parents, family members and friends about negative impact of population explosion,” Illias Ali, a member of the expert panel told The Sentinel on Monday.

Ali said Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has almost given a go-ahead to the idea of making population study mandatory for school students from elementary stage. He said since students from primary classes now study about pollution and environment, they should also know the correlation between environment and population.

“When population at a particular place explodes, it always has disastrous impact on the environment. Assam has already experienced population explosion and its ill effects. It is high time now to educate our future generation,” Ali said.

Assam has a population of over 3 crore spread across 78,000 square km.

Illias Ali, who has been successful in popularizing family planning among the minority community in the State, said another major component of the draft population policy would be empowerment of women through education and employment opportunities. The policy has recommended creation of self-help groups for women to make them fincially independent.

“Once majority of women become educated and fincially independent, the outlook of a large section, especially in rural areas, to use women only to give birth, can be changed. There are several areas, particularly those inhabited by a religious minority group and the tea tribes, where women are seen as child producing machines,” he said.

The expert panel has found that 32 per cent males and 23 per cent females get married before reaching legal marriageable ages, and this is one of the contributing factors to population explosion in the State.

Ali said under the proposed population policy, the government would strictly enforce the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which stipulates that a boy can marry at 21 years and a girl at 18. Anyone found violating this provision will be barred from enjoying government facilities under the population policy. Parents who give consent to such early marriage will face punitive action.