Growing up in Ivory Coast

As I start to think more about parenthood with a new-born on the way, I’m increasingly attuned to the contrast between raising kids in the West and in Ivory Coast. The latter has its attractions – for instance, finding babysitters is not a problem parents worry about; as my wife says, you’ll have to fight to see your baby with all the people wanting to take care of her. The extra hands will certainly make a difference.

In another area though I have more concerns. I have some very intelligent young children among my Ivorian nieces and nephews, but they spend all day watching television, and their parents can give them very little attention sometimes. It’s extremely rare to see children reading books and playing with educational toys, even in well-endowed families. iPad educational games are of course rare. While there are clearly dangers in the often seen western extreme of rushing children from one educational activity to the next (violin lessons, soccer practice, art class, etc), there’s something wonderful about getting that type of ‘renaissance’ education. With the means and the right approach, Abidjan of course offers extra-curricular activities in easy reach. My concerns I guess are wider; on the plus side, Ivorian children are raised with good social skills (they play with everyone and warm quickly to adults, even strangers) but without the well-rounded education/hobbies.

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