Friday, 03 July 2015 13:12

Nigerians are the most educated immigrant group in the U S: So What?

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The Nigerian immigrants hold the largest numbers of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorates in America. But discrimination prevents Nigerians from landing jobs and compensations commensurate with their qualifications. That Nigerians are doing so wonderfully well in America means nothing if deplorable things continue to exist at home in our educational scenes.  What do we do?.  We can return to Nigeria and man the dilapidated structures we call schools; they remind us of hedged chicken coops (“hedgechicken”) rather than the real education. To see what Nigeria’s schools look like, Google ”chicken coop” to laugh your head off. It is imperative that our man President Buhari focuses on education as a matter of priority if we are serious about warding off mass illiteracy that would make the country impossible to administer.

The 2006 American Community Survey conducted by U S Census Bureau shows that 37% of all Nigerians in the U S hold the bachelor’s degree, 17% hold a Master’s degree, 4% hold a doctorate. In comparison, 19% of the white in the U S have bachelor’s degrees, 8% hold the Master’s, 1% hold a doctorate. Therefore, Nigerian-Americans are more educated than their white counterparts. Various theories have been advanced to explain the high preponderance of this phenomenon. Why are Nigerians the most educated subgroup?

One theory holds that only the best or most intelligent Nigerians have the opportunity to enter and usually become established in America. The findings of my study and other researchers’ highly statistical doctoral dissertations using ANOVA and multiple regression analysis disagree with this imputation. We surveyed Nigerian students’ performances on the West African Examination Certificate  (grades, level of pass, number of subjects passed, science or arts) prior to coming to the U S graduate schools. We compared these scores with their grades at American Master’s and PhD schools. We found these measures to have little or no relationship with the college grade-point averages of the Nigerian subjects on U S college and university campuses, at least in our studies.

In other words, Nigerians’ pre-college (at-home) intellective factors were found to be poor predictors of future success. However, we found out that Nigerians who had obtained undergraduate degrees from Nigerian institutions prior to coming to America earned better grades in graduate schools than those with undergraduate degrees from U S. institutions. It was thought that motivation had greater weight and was more predictive of academic achievement of Nigerian students than mere intelligence as measured on WAEC results. We are now finding out that Nigerians with university education at home, seeking admissions to U S professions (medicine, law, pharmacy) are unsuccessful because of low scores on the GRE, LSAT, and MCAT. This is pointing to the need to improve the Nigerian public schools as well as the universities.

The next theory explaining why Nigerians are the most educated immigrant group in America says that, because life is hard and dismal in Nigeria, a person who enters America would rather work doubly hard to the point of death in order to succeed than return home to face the same miserable, dreary, gloomy, bleak, murky, or depressing existence that drove him/her away in the first place. Who wants to eat “garri” (fermented cassava) morning, afternoon, and evening) with “egusi soup” that looks and taste like the witch’s poisonous brew? Who wants to sleep with mosquitoes sucking her blood in darkness? Not me, for sure.

The third theory gives credit to the U S Immigration and naturalization Service’s harassment for Nigerians’ academic success. As the U S Immigration and naturalization Service (USINS) chases Nigerians around the country and threatens deportations, we jumped through windows at a knock on the door and marred women we hardly loved for green cards. Incidentally, we learn to stay in schools longer when we are tired of being tired of being chased around the country. We stay put on campuses as inexorable fixtures and earn a pile of academic degrees to keep away from pesky, troublesome, and nosy Immigration officials who had nothing better to do than gallop as “atulu awusa” (Hausa horses). The result is that we stay in college continuously and are likely to end up with the PhD at age 29.

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James Agazie Ed D

A retired college Professor  with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics.  Write on topics dealing with Nigerian families, marriages, education, and employment.