CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF TRUANCY AMONG PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS WITHIN ITU EDUCATIONAL ZONE
Truancy refers to students unexcused absences from school. Concern about truancy typically focuses on these unexcused absences. However, any school absence excused or unexcused as well as missed classes and hardy arrivals can affect students negatively. Despite good parental care and proper supervision of the school, some children are good at staying out of classes while lessons are going on. Some of the pupils may leave their houses in the morning for school but are not found in the school. Attendance of pupils at lesson has been a problem from the inception of formal education. The checking of attendance ushered in the daily attendance register. Irregular attendance has been identified by Adeyeno (1992) as one of the reasons for academic backwardness. Although no national statistics on truancy exist, some metropolitan areas report thousands of absent youths on any school day. Truancy affects students of all ages, from all types of communities and socio-economic backgrounds (Robins and Kathryn, 1998).
Robins and Kathlyn (1998) in their research showed that factors contributing to truancy stem from three areas: school, family and community and student characteristics. The two researchers identified school factors as comprising of inconsistent and ineffective school attendance policies, poor record keeping, not notifying parents or guardians of absences and unsafe school environment and inadequate identification of special education needs.
Family and community factors including negative peer influences; such as other truant youths, financial, social, medical, or other problems that pressurize students to stay to help the family, child abuse and neglect, family disorganization, teenage pregnancy or parenthood, lack of family support for educational and other goals and violence in or near the home or school. Those factors identified as student characteristics were lack of personal and educational ambition, poor academic performance, lack of self esteem, unmet mental health needs, alcoholism, drug use and abuse.
For decades, educators, researchers, and social reformers have recognized the link between truancy and delinquency. Truant students are at risk of many negative outcomes, including educational failure, social isolation, substance abuse, low self esteem, unwanted pregnancy, unemployment, violence, adult criminality and incarceration. In addition to placing students at risk, truancy has harmful social and financial consequences. Communities with high rates of truancy are likely to have corresponding rates of daytime criminal activity and vandalism. High school dropouts claim more in government funded social services than high school graduates (Garry, 1996). The Los Angeles Country Office of Education had in 1996 identified truancy as the most powerful predictor of delinquency. Police department in van Nuys, California further reported that many students not in school during regular hours were committing crimes, including vandalism, shoplifting and graffiti. This was evidence when in Van Nuys, California, officials conducted a three week sweep for truants on the streets, shoplifting arrests dropped by 60 percent (Harry, 1996).
Absenteeism is detrimental to students achievement, promotion, graduation, self esteem, and employment potential. Clearly, students who miss school are far behind their peers in the classroom. This, in turn, leads to low self esteem and increases the likelihood that such students will drop out of school. Before determining the most effective means of controlling unexcused absences, the causes of truant behaviour must be understood. Not only the cause vary from individual to individual, but school staff and students may disagree about the underlying causes. Although many teachers may be empathetic and willing to help students, difference in opinion may create a barrier to understanding between teacher and student. In one survey, students cited boredom and loss of interest in school, irrelevant courses, suspensions, and bad relationships with teachers as the major factors in their decision to skip school. On the other hand, most of the school staff believed truancy to be related primarily to student problems with family and peers (Bartler, 1984).
1.1 Theoretical Framework
Nigeria in recent years has focused attention on improving the quantity of education provided for the learners at all levels. This is further contained in the seven points agenda of the present federal government led by president Umar Musa Yar’adua. Many non-governmental organizations are increasingly involved in improving the quality of education provided for the learners at all levels. These efforts would yield no appreciable outcome if truancy in the learners is not well addressed.
Truancy, or unexcused absences from school or classes has been linked to serious delinquent behaviour in youth, truancy has been found to be associated with so many societal ills and vices. Much of the work in the developmental pathways to delinquency shows that these behavioural problems often are followed by progressively more serious behavioural and adjustment problems in adulthood, including an increased propensity for violent behaviour (Bartler, 1984). Furthermore, adults who were frequently truant as teenagers are much more likely than those who were not to have poorer physical health, mental health, lower paying jobs, an increased chance of living in poverty, more reliance on welfare support, children who exhibit problem behaviours and an increased likelihood for incarceration (Robins and Karthryn, 1998).
Long range outcomes associated with school truancy has within time created an enormous uneasiness among stakeholders in education and researches. White (1980) pointed our the trend in educational research from 1950’s. He categorized most research studies in the 1970’s as suggesting that since schools were so harmful to so many kids, they should be abolished. This has been due to the fact that most school children came out of the school with a completely new behaviour against the needs of the society.
Perhaps what needs to be done instead is to consider practical ways in which the school system can be amended and supplemented to enable those who are gaining little from it at present to enjoy more of its facilities and the vast per capita sum invested in the schools. White (1980) maintained that it is worth considering practical approaches that can be drawn from the study of alternative educational programmes such as free schools, truancy centres, adventures playgrounds and work experience units, which operate outside the normal educational principles. Schools probably are not necessarily the root of evil, perhaps the reaction of the school is a symptom of a feeling which has its roots in something quite unconnected to the educational framework.
While analyzing the factors that cause delinquent behaviour in schools, Ahumba (1979) concluded quite definitely that parental attitude to school is a determining factor. A family that does not place emphasis on book orienting learning and information acquisition is likely going to have children who truant at school. Truancy may as well be a direct consequence of the child’s experience. White (1980) believed that children may be so embarrassed by their own physical appearances that it drives them away from the school. The fact that a child withdraws from school means that there is something about the experience that he finds painful. Now, it may be true that the causes of this pain were rooted in experiences at home, quite unconnected to the school. If the school fails to alleviate the pain so as to make his stay rewarding, it is unrealistic to expect the child to keep attending.
Fleming (2001) outlined what he felt were four basic needs, the need for acceptance, the need for expression, the need to discover, enquire and explore. Consider the four in relation to the child; acceptance should be met within the family from birth onwards. Expression is traditionally met through communal and recreational activities. The need to contribute socially has become the function of work. If the other three needs are met, then school can attempt to meet the fourth. Sadly, the other three needs are often not met and the need for acceptance subsumes the rest.
1.2 Need for the Study
Today, streets and recreational centres in towns and villages are filled up with students who supposed to be in their various classrooms studying. This is not a new development in the history of schools in Nigeria. Truancy has always been identified but the rate of this civil disobedience is so alarming that the attention of the government has centred on it. Efforts have been made by Government and teachers to curb the incessant rate of truancy among school children.
Truancy has been seen as a disease among school children that has impeded effective learning and invariably their academic advancement. Children who stay away from school are easily seen committing one vice of the other. A few of them end up in prison yards as armed robbers or are found in hospital beds because of criminal abortion. This study has been designed to investigate the possible causes of truancy and it effects on pupils. The researcher intends to provide some suggestions to the appropriate quarters.
The need for the study arises when we survey around and see the number of drop outs not because of the low academic aptitude but because of truant behaviour at school. An investigation into the cause and effect of truancy will then be a useful tool in the hands of the counsellor to redress the issue. The findings of this study will also be of great interest to parents with difficult children who absent themselves from schools without causes. Finally, it is hoped that the study on truancy among school children will expand the frontier of education and open up more avenues for further research studies.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
This research work is on the causes and effects of truancy among primary school pupils. Truancy has been one of the factors that hinders academic performance and educational achievement among school children. The school and teacher factors left aside, the learner’s unique behavioural pattern is a valuable area in enticing teachers to teach effectively. It is very frustrating, discouraging and demoralizing for teachers to spend time and prepare lessons that they cannot teach because many of their children stay away from school or classes. The child factor, as mentioned earlier, is a leading factor for educational advancement. The influence of one truant in a class may be too spasmodic that before the end of a term, ten other students may fall victims. A survey of the school environment has been seen as enhancing the degree of truancy in a school. A school with an in-built culture of indiscipline is likely going to have many or her pupils as truants.
This study is therefore planned to examine the causes of truancy among primary school pupils. The researcher intends to look into the possible effects of truancy on primary schools pupils. This study can therefore be seen as an attempt to answer the following questions:
- To what extent does truancy affect the educational achievement of primary school children?
- In what ways do the homes of school children contribute to the children’s truancy?
- Is there any relationship between school environment and truancy among school children?
- How does truancy correlate with school drop-outs?
- How can classrooms management and teaching strategies cause truancy
- To what extent does bullying affect truancy among school learners?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were stated the guide in the investigation of the study:
- There is no significant relationship between classroom management and the rate of truancy among pupils.
- There is no significant relationship between bullying of pupils and the rate of truancy.
- There is no significant relationship between the family background and truancy among pupils.
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the study
The research study covers the whole of Educational Zone. Due to the considerable fund needed to cover the whole zone in data collection, the researcher was forced to limit the scope to only a few randomly selected schools. Some headmasters of the schools selected for the study did not allow much time at the researcher’s disposal to collect information needed for the subject as they saw this to be an intervention with the school’s daily programme.
Furthermore, some questionnaires were returned to the researcher during the process of administration without answering the questions in them. There was also the problem of inaccessibility to materials on the topic as enough research has not been carried out on the area.
1.6 Definition of Terms
Truancy: This refers to students’ unexcused absences from school or class. It is also used in the study to refer to the act in which school pupils leave their houses for school but do not be in the class because of lack of interest to learn or to evade punishment.
Primary School Children: This is used to refer to children from the age of six and above who attend the primary school for a six year education programme.
Delinquent Behaviour: This refers to behaviour similar to truancy in which a delinquent child stays on his own and avoids lessons and formal class interactions.
Itu Educational Zone: This refers to schools within Ibiono Ibom and Itu Local Government Areas