Various researchers in the United States have shown that early childhood education fosters human, social and economic development. One of the most popular social experiments conducted in the United States is the High Scope Perry Preschool Study. A group of 123 children from low-income African American homes were selected to take part in the experiment.

 

A particular group (58 candidates) was chosen to have access to a high quality early childhood education program while the second group (65 candidates) was not given access to the program. The project staff monitored and collected data on both groups from ages 3-40. The study states that the group given access to the program was more likely to complete High school “The program group significantly outperformed the no-program group on highest level of schooling completed (77% vs. 60% graduating from high school). Specifically, a much larger percentage of program than no-program females graduated from high school (88% vs. 46%)” (Lawrence et al, 200%). The study also noted that the group given access to the early childhood education program outperformed the group with no access on various intellectual and language tests.

 

The economic performance of the children exposed to the early childhood education program was also better than the control group. The study states “Significantly more of the program group than the no-program group were employed at age 40 (76% vs. 62%). The researchers also noticed that the children who took part in the early childhood education program were more likely to be independent; compared to the control group, they were less likely to collect money from family members and more likely to have their own houses and cars.

 

Finally, the children who had access to the Perry School Program were less likely to be arrested. According to the study “The program group had significantly fewer lifetime arrests than the no-program group (36% vs. 55% arrested 5 or more times) and significantly fewer arrests for violent crimes (32% vs. 48% ever arrested), property crimes (36% vs. 58% ever arrested), and drug crimes (14% vs. 34% ever arrested)” (Lawrence et al, 2005).

 

The study effectively shows that children who have access to quality early childhood education eventually go on to complete primary and secondary school, thereby reducing the number of dropouts. We can also deduce that the preschool program provides the intellectual stimulation the children need to succeed in the future. Paying attention to providing quality preschool education for everyone, irrespective of their socio-economic status, can be one of the various approaches taken by the Nigerian Federal Government to improve the nation’s poor quality of education. Quality preschool education will ensure children are trained to be effective employees in the 21st century.