Strive to attain two-child families
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The circumstances explored in 'Not equipped to learn', a front-page Sunday Gleaner story of April 8, 2012, are essentially related to being poor in Jamaica, which in turn is caused by people having too many children for whom there are inadequate resources at home, at school, etc.
I was a member of the Family Planning Board from 1979 to 1988. At that time, we endeavoured to convince people to have, on average, two children per woman. Barbados has achieved this goal for some time now.
Frankly, in my view, since 1989, the effort by the Family Planning Board to get down to replacement fertility of two children per woman (which was our objective in the 1980s) has been put on the back burner.
A major part of the problem is that a child's brain develops rapidly in the first two years of life, so it is critical during this period for a child to receive proper nourishment/feeding (not condensed milk and bush tea), so we need to attack this issue on three fronts:
Generally refocus, particularly on males and females from 15-19, including giving easy access to Postinor/Prevcon (morning-after Pill). Many girls in this age group are having babies that they did not want to have, and the boys need to be educated about their responsibility in this regard also.
As a focal part of helping the poorest Jamaicans to cope, include some special measures/assistance to provide and/or supplement nourishing food for children up to, say, four years old and provide instructions/information on how women can better utilise foods easily available to them (e.g., eggs, milk, red peas) to improve the nourishment for their children.