“Listen carefully to Malala when she speaks. When she’s asked why girls are not going to school, she says ‘because girls and boys are so poor in many families and in many communities that they have to work for their families. They can not go to school. Then there is a cultural taboo stopping girls in many places’, ” Rosling recited. He then explained that girls are only at a disadvantage from boys when enrolling in school. “Once in school, they don’t have a higher drop out rate than boys. They manage. That’s not because someone is kind to them. It’s them and their mothers fighting.”
“Poverty is a worse problem than gender difference, but gender difference aggravates poverty,” said Rosling, who used his trendalyzer software to convert statistics into animated graphics.
His energy is hard to reduce and his TED Talks are arguably the only lectures that can clarify statistics in mere minutes, but when you meet Dr. Hans Rosling he’s quick to tell you that he’s had fame with his delivery, but no impact with his message. How can this be true? This proclamation makes you search your memory for all the times you’ve posted his videos but forgotten the data mentioned in the clips, and then you remember that it’s these startling introductory statements which have made Hans Rosling one of the most popular global health public speakers- he questions perspectives and makes you revisit truisms. His Gapminder Foundation is an educational web initiative that provides fact-based worldviews without promoting data in the interest of a company.
I interviewed him in Doha, Qatar where he was giving this WISE presentation and he railed against the media for not reporting that the world has reached its “peak child”. In other words, the number of children in the world has stopped growing. Rosling told conference attendees that fertility rates around the world have begun dropping faster than anyone has anticipated. As population growth continues, the population growth rate has fallen by more than 40 percent. The average number of children per woman has been declining over the past four decades.
The 5th annual summit, held for three days, affords thousands of academic leaders and policy makers an open forum to discuss educational reform and pedagogical practices. During his talk, he never referred to the world as a dichotomized entity. “It doesn’t make sense to divide the world into Western World and developing world. We live in a continuous world,” he said.
Rosling notes that by 2050, there will be an estimated 1.9 billion kids but they will only account for 20% of the world population. You can watch Dr. Rosling’s WISE presentation here and his documentary, “Don’t Panic- The Truth about Population” will air on November 7th at 9 pm on BBC2. Variously a physician, researcher, professor, and adviser to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, his TEDTalks have garnered more than six million views.