The Two-child Family: The Egyptian Model of Family Planning

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In 1994 President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt received the United Nations Population Award for both his national and international leadership on population issues. Despite decades of disappointments in addressing a rising birth rate and a maldistributed population, Egypt chose collaboration over coercion and embarked on an aggressive educational program in the early 1980s that set as its goal a "two-chi ld-family" by 2015.

To accomplish its goal, the Information, Education and Communication Center of the State lnfonnation Service has employed five techniques. These include the mass media, interpersonal communication, the enter-educate method, training of personnel, and research. As a result, between 1985 and 1994 the percentage of families using contraceptives,nore than doubled and the birth rate dropped from 39.8 per thousand to 27.5 per thousand.

Other nations can learn at least four important lessons from the Egyptian experience in family planning: (I) patience and persistence matter; (2) religious factions should be included in both the policymaking and plar.ning process; (3) a balanceneeds to be struck between the centralization of goal setting and_ the decentralization of program implementation; and (4) traditional family planning theory that states that economic development detennines the fertility rate can be reversed. That is, instead of economic development determining the fertility rate, Egyptian policy makers believe that control of the latter produces the fonner.