1.1 Background to the Study
The typical African cultural setting is centered on the man as head of the family and the sole provider of sustenance. The woman (or mother) on the other hand is expected to mind the home front and fend for the children. She is not expected to take up paid employment that will take her away from the domestic chores of a houswife. She is, however, expected to provide informal education and subsequently prepare the child for formal education. The general believe (in the view of the Researcher) is that mothers who work will find it difficult to fulfill their role of providing early childhood education that will ultimately affect their child’s academic performance when enrolled in school. Academic performance is determined by several factors. The literature is replete with how the socio-economic status of the mother determines the type of house pupils live in, the social amenities they have, mobility, even the types of food the pupils eat, and consequently their academic performance in school (Olusanya, Eyisi, Ogunyide, and Egbichulam ,1990). 2
Kriesberg (1990) reported that the middle class family is more supportive and rewarding of academic achievement than the lower class family. Indeed, according to Capper (1996), the entire family can be influenced by a child’s performance in an examination because that performance can constrain or expand future employment possibilities for the child. Musgrave (1998) also recognized parental status on academic performance. He explained that personal characteristics such as achievement, motivation, and self-concept are strong determinants of academic performance. Mothers’ employment has influence on the academic performance of their children especially when it is considered that mothers play significant roles in the education of their children, starting from conception,informal to formal education. Akogun (1998) stated that there is mounting evidence which indicates that, when malnutrition starts early in life, it becomes more severe in the impairment of the brain and may result in life-long reduction of intellectual abilities. Also, a mother who has consistently lived on poor nutrition is not likely to produce pupils with good intellectual abilities and may lead to poor academic achievement.
In most homes, mothers take care of their children, preparing them for school, cooking their food, and taking care of their dresses and books. 3
Women encourage children to aim high in educational pursuits and through their life example and counselling (Omotosho 1998). Mohammed (1999) asserted that global consensus is that education is a process that helps to develop the whole human being, physically, mentally, morally, politically, socially, and, technologically to enable one to function in any environment in which one may find oneself. Education, according to her, performs a major role in equipping the individual with the skills and knowledge which would help to transform any economy. Thus, the researcher is of the view that education is the greatest investment that any nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources. The role of the mother is to ensure that children are well fed with nutritionally balanced diet and were necessary to ensure that the pupils go to school with a well packaged lunch-box. Where the employed mother is not always available to do this, the tendency is for the pupils to go to school with junk foods or money with which they buy junk food. This ultimately influences the mental development of the child and determines the level of academic performance.
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THE INFLUENCE OF WORKING CLASS MOTHERS ON PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPIL’S ACADEMIC ACHIEVMENT