‘The best decision I ever made’ – Here’s why African-Americans are sending their children back to Africa to school

For decades, it has always been the dream of most African youth to relocate to the U.S, in particular, to further their education with high hopes of securing jobs upon completion.

However, some African-American parents in the U.S are taking a different path – relocating their children to Africa to start formal education, despite the pristine environment and resources at their disposal.

Most
of the parents Face2Face Africa had
a conversation with had different reasons, but they concluded that despite the
hardship and poor political decisions the ‘dark continent’ grapples with, it
remains the brightest spot to bring out the best in their children.

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For most of them, it is not about the standards when it comes to comparing the levels of education. They fear the future of their kids is not guaranteed in an environment which openly discriminates against them.

The
concerns of some of these parents were encapsulated in a Brown Center
Chalkboard report, which highlighted four key challenges
that many African-American students and teachers face in U.S. schools.

The report titled: “Research
and reflections on African-Americans’ experiences in schools
” noted that
black students and even teachers are faced with gaps in achievement and opportunity, implicit bias, teacher diversity, and
school discipline in the US.

Andrea
Lee, a Dance Educator at Oakland, California corroborated aspects of the report
by Brown Center Chalkboard. Over the years she has been facilitating trips for
some of her students in the US to Africa. She said they usually feel at home
when they find themselves on the continent.

“I
do bring college students and have brought my own daughter to Ghana four times
since she was nine years old.  My (big)
students share how they sense a big weight lifted from their shoulders because [they]
are relieved from the racial biases they mitigate on a regular basis in
America.

“They
share how their spirits are lifted and that the welcoming environment brings
about a sense of unity and happiness never felt before. They talk about their
perceptions of being safer in Africa and how they wished they could run around
and play outside in their natural environments and that their overall
experience being in Ghana felt peaceful and liberating,” Lee revealed.

Discrimination against blacks is not the only reason forcing these parents to relocate their children to Africa. Most of the parents Face2Face Africa engaged believe the values of the leader of the Free World will adulterate their children.

“Over
here, everything is virtually allowed and you can’t afford to raise kids in
such environment where it becomes difficult to even decide when they should
begin to have sex. Who does that?” Dorothy Simpson, whose daughter is currently
schooling in South Africa, told Face2Face Africa from her New York base.

She added: “We hear of a lot of gun violence in schools almost every day. I can’t take chances anymore. I had a sister who nearly lost a son in one of such gangsters’ fights in schools. We had to send him back to her brother in Nigeria to preserve his life. The best place to bring up a child is Africa.”

Simpson
is not alone. Another African American mother, who had relocated to Ghana, believes
her children will rather get the best care and attention in the West African
nation than in the U.S.

“I
absolutely have no regrets about moving my children here [Ghana] and having
them school here – one of the best decisions I have ever made. I think they
will agree as well,” the mother of two, who wants to remain anonymous confided
in Face2Face Africa.

She
narrated how it all began.

“My
children attended a predominantly white independent school. If he stayed I am
convinced that they would have destroyed his potential. After many rounds of
psycho-educational testing they determined he had ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] and defiance disorder.  When my husband who is Ghanaian received a
job offer here I decided we should all move (my children’s schooling being one
of the most important factors in that decision).

“Fast
forward four years. My son aces his O levels, gets a 760 on math SAT 570 on
English, isn’t satisfied so he retakes. He received no extra time and was not
taking any medicines, what he did have and does have are teachers who hold him
to the highest standards and expect the best for him. I shudder to think what
they would have done to him had we stayed in the US,” she stated.

“I
recall one of his teachers who believed in him (a white Jewish woman) told me
when I shared that we were moving that getting him out of that environment was
the best thing I could do for him. She was right.

“I
didn’t receive any resistance from relatives although I did get questions from
colleagues – why would you move to Africa. I would always respond, you know me,
would I ever put my children in an environment where I didn’t think they would
thrive,” she stressed, however, she added: “My son will attend university in
the US. He knows his self-worth and capabilities and he is comfortable in any
setting. He intends to study abroad and knows he can succeed in the US, in
Ghana or anywhere else in the world. For now, it is one of the best decisions
I’ve ever made.”

Cultural Values

On
her part, Tahiru Mohammed, whose son is half-Ghanaian wants to inculcate cultural
values in her boy hence the decision to relocate.

“I’m
raising him here to also learn the culture… I also want him to be a [good] teenager
– I feel he can do easier here in Africa than in America even though there are
issues in Ghana now like kidnapping but overall he can be a teenager here,” she
remarked to Face2Face Africa.

“He
likes it here… So I’m making a sacrifice for him when it comes to education.”

Lee, mentioned earlier, also drew Face2Face Africa’s attention to one key reason motivating African-American parents to send their children back home to be part of the formal education system.

“For
a long time, some African parents have not been teaching their children their
native tongue. I have several students who are first generation born USA. Their
parents did not allow them to speak their various native languages at home, i.
e. Yoruba or Ewe or Twi for example and now their child only knows English. The
thinking was to have them become a better integrationist into American society
or thinking dual language learning would somehow negatively impact their
child’s ability to speak English well and therefore their plot in life.  In turn, some students are no longer curious
to learn and some have regrets that they never learned how to speak their
African languages,” Lee noted.

She
added: “Connecting historical legacies and affirming African identity is also
at the core of why many of my students want to come to learn in Africa… of
course I am merely speaking of short-term study abroad and the impact their
global experience in Africa has on their mental and social health.”

Despite
its plethora of challenges from economic to political instability, Africa seems
to be playing a significant role in molding America’s future. The likes of
Mohammed will not hesitate to encourage their African-American peers to take
similar course.

“I don’t have any regrets coming here. It helped him have a broader view… it has really given him a lot of experience to deal with people of different cultural background,” Mohammed concluded in her conversation with Face2Face Africa.

source: https://face2faceafrica.com/article/the-best-decision-i-ever-made-heres-why-african-americans-are-sending-their-children-back-to-africa-to-school

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