This study was aimed at investigating the family background factors that can influence students’ academic achievement in Senior Secondary School in Nsukka Education Zone in Enugu State. To guide the study, five research purpose, five research questions and five research hypotheses were formulated. The design adopted for this study was Ex-post Facto design. The population of the study consists of all senior Secondary students from the fifty three secondary schools in the three local government areas in Nsukka Education Zone. The fifty three secondary schools in the zone have a population of seven thousand, nine hundred and forty five senior secondary students. Out of the fifty three schools, twelve schools were sampled using proportionate random sampling technique. In the twelve schools, all SSII students numbering eight hundred and sixteen (816) were used as the subject of the study. The research instrument was questionnaire on family background influence (FBI), designed by the researcher and validated by experts. The reliability of the instrument was established using Crunbach alpha method. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation while t-test statistics was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The instrument was pilot tested in Obollo Afor Education Zone, using 30 students. The reliability coefficient was 0.69. The finding of the study revealed that: Students from educated parents achieve more than those from uneducated parents in academics; students from high-income status parents enjoy considerable advantage in academic achievement than students of low income status parents because their parents were able to afford necessary materials and equipment needed for effective learning in the school; parental level of motivation also influenced students’ academic achievement because motivation and reward served as a form of reinforcement for children’s learning at school. Based on these findings, the study recommended among others that parents should diversify their sources of income to be able to provide fund for their children’s schooling. Parents should equally realize the importance of using rewards and other measures to motivate their children.
Background of the Study
Education is the best legacy a nation can give to her citizens especially the youths. This is because education is very important in the development of any nation or community. Education is the process of transmitting what is worthwhile to members of the society. According to Okafor (1981). Education embraces all those experiences of the individual through which knowledge is acquired and intellect enlightened. For Nwabachili and Egbue (1993) education is what goes on from one generation to another generation. In this context, education is the process of socializing the child to grow up as a fulfilled member of the society through informal, formal and non-formal process. Informal education is the process of acquiring knowledge about the environment and beyond through living with one another. According to Nwabachili and Egbue (1993) formal education is a consciously planned form of socialization in a formal setting such as school. They stressed that non-formal education involve all those systematic programmes and processes of education and training that is done outside formal education setting. All these forms of education cannot be achieved without the influence of the family.
Family is the first social environment the child finds itself. According to Clifford (1981) family remains the primary environment of the child. The author emphasized that family environment has more chances of increasing or decreasing the intellectual achievement of the child. Akubue and Okolo (2008), defined family as a small kinship structural group with the key function of natural socialization of the new born. Similarly, in Okunniyi (2004), family is defined as a primary social group of parents, offspring and possibly other members of the household.
Family background refers to all the conditions and circumstances in the family which influence the child physically, intellectually and emotionally Muola (2010). Children coming from different family backgrounds are affected different by such family conditions, that is why some children have good family background while some have poor background. Citing fleege, Eke (1999) noted that with some families, the background way vary from time to time for the same individuals.
Formal education therefore remains the vehicle for human development which must start from the family. There are different categories of families. The major categories of families according to Anderson and Taylor (2000) includes: Traditional families–where the father is the major breadwinner and mother at home rearing children; divorced families–families that have been reconstituted following the breaking of marriage; single parent families–likely headed by women; step families–with new siblings and new parents stemming from re-marriage.
A family could also be categorized as extended or nuclear. Extended families are those in which large group of related kin in addition to parents and children live together in the same household. This is the type of families prevalent in African countries. Nuclear families are families where married couple resides together with their children. This type of family is common in Western countries (Andersen and Taylor 2000).
Families are of various sizes. Family size has to do with the total number of people in a single family which may include the father, mother, children and even the extended members – all living in one hamlet. According to Alio (1995) family size has implication for education. The author emphasized that the size of the family determines to a great extent the relative amount of physical attention and time which each child gets from his parents. Large families are more common among the lower class of the society. Children in large families may suffer poverty and lack parental encouragement and stimulus which motivate their academic achievement (Eamon, 2005). Similarly, smaller family size has been linked with high academic achievement (Majoribank 1996) Majoribank further stressed that students with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and have support that leads to better school performance Family (small or large size) remains the primary environment of every child. The families begin the process of education and provide physical and psychological needs of the child. This supports the view of Maduewisi (1982), that the environmental experiences from family, peer group and school location have great influence in determining child’s intellectual ability. She maintained that bright children from under-privileged family environment may turn dull due to impoverished family environment. She added that mental development influence intellectual development. This is in line with Hebb (1987) who observed that the innate potentials of children cannot be attained without adequate stimulating family environment because the child cannot do well intellectually. The implication is that a proper stimulating family environment with intellectual potential and appropriate teaching methods will definitely enhance maximum performance of the child.
Durosaro and Durosaro (1990) in their study attempted to investigate the relationship between students’ family size and their academic achievement; they found out that family size influenced academic achievement. Their study reveals that children from small size families performed better at school than their counterparts from both average size and large size families. Furthermore, Yoloye (1989) conducted a study to see if the family background variables might be useful in explaining their academic achievement. Some aspects of family background variables examined in the study include family size and parents’ educational status. His findings were that the polygamous family sizes which were naturally large, reduces the chances of children going to school in the first instance. In addition, children from such backgrounds who are in schools have reduced chances of achieving their goals. Thirdly, parents of such families are mostly illiterate and incapable of providing adequate motivation for their children in schools as compare with the literate nuclear families.
The economic implication of large family size is better explained in Okunyi (2004) who observed from his study that as families get larger, parents cannot give their children the same amount of individual attention. They could not afford to provide them with so many of the things which will help them to make the best possible use of their years at school such as educational aids, and quiet comfortable rooms in which to do home work undisturbed by the television, outings to places of interest, leisure time pursuits, and opportunities for traveling. What is most probably important of all, according to him is the fact that the parents of large families were found not to talk with their children to the same extent as parents of small families.
Another aspect of family environmental factor is the structure of the family. Structurally, a family is either broken or intact. A broken family in this context is one that is not structurally intact for various reasons; such as death of a parent, divorce, separation, desertion and illegitimacy in which case, the family was never completed (Coukline 1996). Life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent and such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resources, assumptions of new roles and responsibilities, establishment of new pattern in intra-familial interactions and reorganization or routines and schedules, (Agulanna 1999).
In single parent families, children may suffer some psychological and social problems which affect their academic performance. Danesy and Okedian (2002), in their study, lamented that street hawking among secondary school students have psychologically imposed other problems, such as sex networking behaviour, juvenile delinquent behaviour, which take much of the student school time that necessitated the poor academic performance and drop out syndrome noticed among young school students. They also lamented that the maternal and paternal deprivation of essential needs of the young students have promoted their poor performance in public examinations, such as JSCE, WASSCE and NECO. Similarly, (Okunniyi 2004) asserted that a child who suffer maternal and paternal deprivation may experience academic problems including truancy in the school. This is because the child may lack some necessities like school fees, books and uniforms. These conditions, according to the authors, are not conducive for effective parenting because when the single parents are overburdened by responsibilities and by the own, emotional, reaction to their situation, they often become irritable, impatient and insensitive to their children’s needs.
Apart from the structural pattern of the family, another powerful variable in the family that determines the students academic achievement is the family socio-economic status (SES). According to (Jeynes 2002), the socio-economic status (SES) of a child is most commonly determined by combining portent’s educational level, occupational status, and income level. Social class and economic status of the parents determine the type of school and the standard of training they desire for their children. The occupation or profession of the parents, the educational level and whether the mothers are working or non-working mothers places them at an advantage or disadvantage to evaluate their children’s academic work and monitor their progress.
Status is often determined by the individuals economic attainment, though it is sometimes ascribed on the individual. Okunniyi (2004), identified three distinct socio-economic groups or status which are common in many countries. They are: upper class- which is made up of rich business men and top government officials among others; middle class-which consists of skilled workers, professionals and middle ranked government workers and the lower class- which is made up of manual workers, petty traders and low income government officials.
Francis (2007) opines that the lower income families may be aware of the importance of education in the society, but at the same time, they are also aware of their limited resources to measure up with such educational demands. According to the author, a family that can scarcely provide for the basic needs of the family which include food, shelters and clothing will hardly motivate the academic excellence of their children, instead they will pressurize their children so seek for job opportunities with the little education they acquired so far to support the family. The implication of the agreement is that for families are likely to give their children poor academic background because of lack of financial support.
The socio-economic status of a family is capable of affecting the behaviour of the children and determine their aspiration. Families with high socio-economic status often have more success in preparing their children for school because they typically have access to wide range of providing their young children with high quality child-care, books and encourage children in various learning activities at home. They also have easy access to information regarding their children’s health, as well as social, emotional and cognitive development (Ojo and Yilma 2010),
Ojo and Yilma also noted that in all socio-economic groups, parents face major challenges when it comes to providing optimal care and education for their children and these challenges are more pronounced in poor families. This, according to them, is because sometimes, when the basic necessities are lacking, parents must place top priority on housing, food, clothing and health care, regarding education materials and books as luxuries. They added that poor families may also have inadequate or limited access to community resources that promote and support children’s development and school readiness. They further asserted that these disadvantages can negatively affect families decisions regarding their children development and learning. This situation, according to Ojo and Yilma, may also expose the infants in poor families to a greater risk of entering kindergarten schools unprepared, unlike their peers from rich families.
Parents’ motivation is another family background factor which influence the academic achievement of students. Students under motivated condition, exhibits purposeful behaviour aimed at achieving academic set goals. The achievement of these goals determines the motive. Hickey and Lindsey (1995) clearly distinguished two perspectives of motivation; these are situational and dispositional perspectives. According to them, disposition perspective asks questions about students’ general orientation to learning which relates the students’ priority and students’ nature. The situational perspective according to the scholars focuses on learning context. These scholars further identified to factors that greatly influence students’ motivation. These are: interpersonal factors such as curiosity, perseverance, and autonomy (intrinsic-factors) and environmental factors such as parents, peers and sibling (extrinsic factors).
Research shows that supportive and attentive parenting practices positively affect academic achievement (Eamon, 2005). In addition, high parental aspirations have been associated with increasing students’ interest in education (Majoribanks, 2005). The effect of parental motivation and involvement in their children’s school has on academic achievement is less clear (Domina 2005), parental motivation and involvement in school has been linked to both positive and negative influences on academic achievement (McNeal, 2001, Domina, 2005). Explanations for this discrepancy are not conclusive. It is thought that the type of involvement and motivation may make a difference and that in some cases parents become involved after their child has already had academic difficulties (Domina, 2005, McNeal, 2001). Other recent research has found more conclusively that while parental motivation may not help academic achievement, it does help prevent behaviorual problems (Domina, 2005).
Students with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and motivation and thus have more access to resources than children from large families. The additional attention and motivation leads to better school performance (Majoribanks, 1996, Thondike, 1997 and Samon, 2005).
Thondike reorganized seven ways of motivating students viz: awareness on the part of the parents of the value of education whether such parents are literature of illiterate; existence of books, newspapers, comic books; good nutrition and sleeping habit; adequate facilities for sleep, for study and for rest; satisfaction of physical needs like food, shelter and clothing; objects in the home which challenges the child’s curiosity.
Douglas (1984) established a positive correlation between children’s academic achievement and motivation. The author laid considerable emphasis upon parental interest as a factor governing children’s chances of being awarded grammar school admissions. For the author, the simple most important factor that influence educational attainment of children appears to be the degree of parents interest in their children’s education. Douglas further stated that middle class parents express great interest in their children’s education as indicated by more frequent visits to school to discuss children’s progress, buying relevant textbooks and other necessary materials needed in the school for their children. The author also found from his study that parental interest and encouragement become increasingly important as a spur to high attainment as the children grow older. He also attached importance to the child’s early years, since in many cases, performance during the first years of school is reflected throughout the secondary school. He suggested that during primary socialization, middle-class children receive greater attention and stimulus from their parents. This forms basis for high achievement in the educational system.
Students from low socio-economic status families may not be strongly motivated to do well in school and may not be knowledgeable about techniques of being successful in school. High socio-economic status parents who have benefited in a variety of ways from education serves as effective and enthusiastic advocate of schooling (Carlson, 2003). In line with this Okwulanya (2003) opines that motivation from educated parents strengthens the academic aspiration and language development in their children to perform better in their academic work. According to the scholar, some children may come from homes were academic is much valued, where there are books around them and most of the time, they see their parents reading. Their parents may give them books as Christmas presents. They encourage them to read many books wither by organizing mini library for them at home or by encourage to use the state library. The author went further to emphasize that some children may come from illiterate homes, where no importance is attached to books. In such families children scarcely see their parents at home.
In all, the researcher’s conclusion is that motivated students are likely to engage in an activity more vigorously and more effectively than unmotivated one. Motivation is always goal orientated. The importance of parental level of education to academic achievement of students cannot be over emphasized. Students from professional and to a lesser extent managerial occupational backgrounds exhibit higher academic performance (Gary, 2001). In support of this view, Onochie and Okpalla (1985) opined that educational level of parents which is an indicator of socio-economic status has direct influence on child’s values and academic achievement in the school. They mentioned that children from illiterate families may learn little or nothing from home that can help them develop interest in academics. This is in contrast to what is obtainable from children from literature families where parents provide atmosphere conducive for the formation of good study habits (Qeca, 1980).
Parental occupation is also an important family background variable. The occupation of one’s parents may determine to a large extent one’s opportunity to attend secondary school or not. Ezeji (2001) noted that parents like their children to take to their occupation, like parents who are lawyers, doctors, musicians among others. Examples of such people in the country include Gani faweiheni, the prominent human right lawyer, Oliver Akalite (Oliver De coque) and Osita Osadebe who were famous musicians each of these great men had one or more of his children in his type of occupation. Uwaoma (2066) asserted that most vocational students were children whose parents were farmer or craftmen. In Nigeria most children whose parents cannot afford to pay for high cost of formal education enroll into apprenticeship programmes such as carpentry, brick laying, petting trading and others. In the study area, there is a seeming general poor performance among secondary school students. Evidences of the poor performances are seen in both students’ internal and external examination. For instance, the available records of WAEC result analyses from 2005 to 2011 indicate downward trends in students’ academicachievement. According to the analyses, the achievement levels of students are as follows: 2005-27.53%, 2006-15.56%, 2007-25.54%, 2008-13.76%, 2009-25.99%, 2010-24.94% and 2011 -30.99% (source: WAEC Lagos).
It is against this background that the researcher is interested investigating the influence of family background on students academic achievement in Nsukka education zone of Enugu state. The researcher intends to investigate the variables in the family background with a view of assessing their relative influence on academic achievement of senior secondary school student in Nsukka education zone.