I was just tinkering around on the new education data portal, called Saber, launched by the World Bank in January 2014 that supposedly lets you compare education data across developing countries. I looked at Early Childhood Education programs. Data was available for only eight nations (Colombia, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Nigeria, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Tanzania). It was striking that Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and soon to be the continent’s largest economy, has very weak early childhood education programs, according to the World Bank rating system. Even Tanzania, for example, is stronger.
I was thinking about Tiger Mom Amy Chua’s recent opinion piece, What Drives Success?, in the New York Times and how Nigerian immigrants do remarkably well in the United States.
“Nigerians make up less than 1 percent of the black population in the United States, yet in 2013 nearly one-quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry; over a fourth of Nigerian-Americans have a graduate or professional degree, as compared with only about 11 percent of whites.”
So Nigerians don’t come from a culture that emphasizes early childhood education, but are nonetheless remarkably successful. I wonder if cultural values trump education?