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THE SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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THE SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS

 

ABSTRACT

The study basically examined the relationship between social problems in schools and academic performance of students in selected secondary schools in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State. Seven research objectives leading to seven research questions and hypotheses were stated to guide the study. A total number of 250 teachers were carefully selected from the entire population through the method of stratified and simple random strategy. The research design was descriptive survey in nature where questionnaire was developed to gather the data used for the study. The Pearson Correlation Statistics was employed to test the null hypotheses stated for the study using 0.05 Levels of Significance in order to accept or reject them. Findings of the study showed a significant relationship between age and promotion of maladaptive behavior that lead to poor academic performance; there is a significant relationship between school entry age and academic performance; Equally, results also showed significant relationship exists between cult activities and academic performance; significant relationship between examination malpractice and academic performance. Other findings of the study showed a significant relationship exists between deviancy/delinquency and academic performance of students; significant relationship exists between truancy to school and academic performance of students, Recommendations were made following the outcomes of the research findings. They include. need for counseling services in Secondary Schools in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State; Children should be exposed to reading and writing at very early age; Government should place indefinite ban all form of associations in secondary schools that are not promoting students’ knowledge, skill and attitude; Government should also continue in the fight against corruption in all its ramifications and punish offenders to show deterrent to others; It was also recommended thatmaladjusted students in secondary schools in Mushin Local Government Area should be given psycho- socio therapy. Also, parents should ensure that their children get to school early every day, and that the present curriculum on religion and national values should be properly implemented

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the study

Social problems are issues happenings which are frequently occurring in the society in recent times. They are the issues that affect everybody in the society. The issues are of great concern to both the young and adults. They are not personal or individualized issues but general issues and as such require general solution. Some of the social issues that pervade the length and breadth of our country such as corruption, social inequality, ethnicity, limited resources, poverty, criminality, and other socio-economic crises have manifested in different dimensions in secondary school levels of our education system and appear to be taking alarming proportions. It is important to consider the effect social problems have on students’ academic performance. Although several socio-economic and psychological variables like hard work and discipline, family income, parent’s education, ability, interest and aptitude have been identified to impact on academic performance, often lost in this inquiry, however, is consideration of adolescent biological age, school entry age, cult activities, examination malpractice, truancy/ deviancy and late-coming to school which are some of the social issues happening in secondary school students. The relative lack of attention to these prevalent social problems in secondary schools is unfortunate given the academic and behavioural performance problems noticeable in our country.

First, adolescents’ age has been identified as identity crises. They are faced with so many questions about life ‘what’,’ how’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. They are anxious to get quick result; a situation that exposes them to different dangers. Our mass media are filled with different reports of social evils perpetrated by adolescent students in schools. Equally, school entry age may be a cause or benefit to child’s education. In this way, parents’ socio-economic development dictates the time a child will be exposed to learning in school. Research findings on the relationship between school entry age and academic performance are in mix. There is a need to strike a balance between these mixed results.

Second, cult activities among secondary school students were a thing unheard of in recent past. Today cultism has taken a center stage in the secondary schools. When cults strike, chances are that there is some disruption in the stability of the academic calendars (Olusakin, 2004). Students who are not serious with their academic work, whose bulk are found (if not all) in the secret cults, usually precipitate confusion capable of leading the closure of schools. The cultist disturbs the peace of the academic environment through their violent activities. The violent activities that happened at secondary schools in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State and Adamawa State in 2012 were reported in the daily Newspapers (Nation Newspaper, 2012; the Nigerian Tribune, 2012). This situation may lead to closure of schools thereby keeping students home for very long time which may affect their education. Some of the cultist when caught may face suspension or outright dismissal from schools. Whatever may be the case, cultism among students in secondary schools is necessary evil that affect students’ outcomes in schools since those who engage in it pay less attention to reading and studying in schools.

Third, students get involved in examination malpractice because of their desire to get best scores without the corresponding efforts in preparation. Corruption in private and public places and the twin sister, Nigeria orientations on certificate have not helped matter. Every high school student knows that examination malpractice is evil and corrupt, but many of them still get involved. Today, the situation is so bad that some parents, teachers, proprietors / proprietresses, and examination officials, who should champion the campaign against examination malpractice, are also aiding it. In any case, students are less likely to adhere to formal examination regulations where they perceive that rewards are based on personal rather than professional criteria, where they perceive widespread corruption in national and local government than in societies where high levels of integrity are perceived to prevail (Okolie, 2004).

Third, it is not uncommon to see students reacting aggressively when teachers try to control them when they make noise and distract other students in class. In similar vein, rape or sexual promiscuity, arson and wanton destructions of buildings and properties and copying of foreign ways of life seem to be the way of lives of many adolescent students. It should be borne in mind that when students set buildings ablaze and destroy properties, the resultant effect is the closing of the school. Hence, deviant and delinquent activities among secondary school students are social issues prevalent in school that have become so rampant. This affects students’ learning and invariably the academic performance.

Four, the situation in our secondary schools regarding the issue of absenteeism and truancy is pathetic. Absenteeism and truancy are presently major problems facing our schools, and the damaging effects to students’ academic performances have largely been overlooked.

However, academic performance in the context of this study is students’ ability to do well, fairly or poorly in an examination. The evaluation for determining students’ academic performance is carried out through various forms of standardized tests and examination. It is worthy of mention that academic performance, including academic failure is often viewed in narrow terms, as an individual behavior limited to the early life course.  In essence, academic performance has implications that play out across life stages and on multiple levels. It is pointed out that academic struggles predict individual’s short-term problem behavior and dropout, and can derail educational and occupational trajectories of well into adulthood. It can also create disorder and undermine the general mission of schools, and more so, widespread academic failure has influence on rates of fertility, mortality, marriage, and unemployment through its relation to educational attainment and the development of human capital (Egenti, 2005). Thus, what appears merely to be an aspect of the adolescent experience actually has far-reaching consequences across a variety of social phenomena. This further justifies the need to examine how social problems among students are related to their academic performance in secondary schools.

Furthermore, despite the law put against examination malpractices and the teaching of Civic Education, Social Studies and Christian Religion / Islamic Religion at the junior and senior secondary schools in Nigeria in order to promote good values among students, yet social issues in secondary schools still persist. There is therefore, the need to continue making inquiry on these problem areas among secondary school students to stem the tide of circumstances.

Most undeniably, the present Nigeria generation has been generation of youth restiveness and moral decadence, corruption, arson and looting, kidnapping, and terrorism among others are on the rise in deteriorated neighborhoods and large cities like Lagos. Student participation in such activities is on a steady rise and poses a serious threat to achieving our education objectives.

Undeniably, academic and maladaptive behavior performance of students in the secondary schools deserves a study of this nature. The impetus towards a research in this direction is further reinforced by the trend in poor performance of the secondary school students in their West African School Certificate Examinations, and students’ emotional life. It therefore becomes a major part of the educator’s responsibilities to be able to identify sources of emotional stress in students to appropriate areas of professional and adult guidance in school.  It is against this background information that this research seeks to examine the relationship between social issues in school and students’ academic performance in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.2       Theoretical Framework of the Research

The theoretical background for this study stems from four theories. These theories are:

i.          The Social Control by Hirschi (1978)

ii.         Labeling and conflict theories by Howard Becker (1963) and Karl Marx (1867)

iii.        Functional and interactionism theories by Daphend of (1959), and

iv.        Social cognitive theory by Albert Bandura (1977 - 1986)

Social control theory by Hirschi (1978)

The theory asserts that ties to family, school and other aspects of society serve to diminish one’s propensity for deviant behaviour. As such, social control theory posits that crime occurs when such bonds are weakened or are not well established. Control theorists argue that without such bonds, crime is an inevitable outcome. Unlike other theories that seek to explain why people engage in deviant behaviour, control theories take the opposite approach, questioning why people refrain from offending. As a result, criminality is seen as a possibility for all individuals within society, avoided only by those who seek to maintain familial and social bonds.  Hirschi, believes that these bonds are based on attachment to those both within and outside of the family, including friends, teachers, and co-workers; commitment to activities in which an individual has invested time and energy, such as educational or career goals; involvement in activities that serve to both further bond an individual to others and leave limited time to become involved in deviant activities; and finally, belief in wider social values. These four aspects of social control are thought to interact to insulate an individual from criminal involvement (Siegel and McCormick, 2006). Researchers have closely examined bonds, schools, community and religion to determine the strength of social control theory as it specifically relates to young people.  It is proposed that for young people, a key aspect of social control is found within the family, particularly through interactions with and feelings towards parents. Of the studies that have examined the impact of social control on delinquency, a large proportion has found a negative relationship between parental attachment and delinquency. As such, it has been found that the greater the attachment to parents, the lower the likelihood of involvement in delinquent behaviour. Empirical evidence supports the notion that parenting practices and parental support can impact violent offending by youth. In conjunction with parental attachment, adolescent attachment to school is seen by Hirschi’s social control theory as a fundamental means of establishing social control. A significant number of studies pertaining to social control theory include measures of the role of school attachment and school support in the lives of young people. It is to be noted, however, that strong attachment to school was associated with less violent offending. The role of the community and neighborhood as agents of social control has also been assessed in the social control literature. In light of the fore-going, this theory is relevant in explaining the relationship between social issues happening in secondary schools in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State and students’ academic performance.

Labeling and Conflict theory by Howard Becker (1963) and Karl Marx (1867)

This is another theory that strengthens the research investigation. As propounded by Howard Becker (1963), this theorist viewed deviance as the creation of social groups and not the quality of some act or behavior. He believed that social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction creates deviance, and by applying those roles to particular people and labeling them as outsiders. From this point of view, deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application of rules and sanctions to an’ offender’. The deviant is one to whom the label has been successfully attached.

The conflict theorists reject the idea that social problems can be solved by reforming major contradictions in the way society is organized; contradiction that lead to large-scale conflict between those who have access to the “good life” and those who do not.. In “The communist Manifesto” and “capital” and other works, Marx attempted to prove that social problems like unemployment, poverty, crime, corruption, conflict and violence, and so forth, are not usually the fault of individuals or of poorly functioning organizations. An evitable outcome of capitalism is class conflict, especially conflict between those who own the means of production and those who sell their labour for wages. Conflict is a fact of life in modern industrial societies.

Functionalist and Interactionism Theories by Dahpendorf (1959) and Thomas (1923)

The functionalist theory looks at the way social institutions like the family, education, economy, polity, religion and their sub-systems function. Functionalist sociologist do not focus on the behaviour and problems of individuals, instead they see social problems as arising out of the failure of institutions of society, like the family, education, economy, polity, and religion to adapt to changing social conditions. Every part or institution of society is seen as having a function in the sense that it contributes to the smooth running of the society. Hence, when one part of the society is out of the line with the others, there is pressure for its reintegration with the other related parts. In this way, stability in society, by and large, prevails. It is not only stability based on functional necessity but stability based on consensus of values. Individuals in society, according to this theory, share the same basic values and are thus agreed on the way they behave towards each other as individuals or as members of groups.

The functionalist theory of deviance-disorganization can be fruitfully used in the study of such current problematic condition in Nigeria as, examination malpractice, cultism, deviant and delinquent activities among students in secondary school that affect academic performance as well as society’s criminality, violence, as well as, poverty, unemployment, population problem, problem families, environmental degradation and pollution, and homelessness, and insecurity.

Interactionism theory offers an explanation which gets us closer to the individual level of behaviour. Research based on this perspective looks at the processes whereby different people become part of a situation that the larger society defines as a social problem. The interactionism approach focuses on the ways in which people actually take on the values of the group of which they are members. It also explore how different groups define their situation and in so doing “construct” a version of life that promote certain values and behaviours and discourages others. From the interactionism perspective, an individual or a group’s definition of the situation is central to understanding the action of that individual or group: “situation people define as real are real in their consequences (Thomas, 1923). Above all, labeling theory as discussed earlier is a major application of the interactionism perspective that offers an explanation for certain kinds of social problems. The interactionism perspective of the “definition of the situation”, peer group interactions and labeling can be related or applied to the understanding of some current problems in Nigeria , which include: crime and delinquency, violence, human trafficking, prostitution, drug abuse , child abuse, prejudice and discrimination, corruption, and insecurity that affect student’s academic performance..

Social cognitive theory by Albert Bandura (1977-1986)

Social cognitive theory rests on several basic assumptions about learning and behaviour. One assumption concern triadic reciprocality or the view that personal behavioural and environmental factors influence one another, a bidirectional and reciprocal fashioning is a product of a continuous interaction between cognitive behavioural and contextual factors. For instance, classroom learning is shaped by factors within academic environment experienced by oneself and by another. At the time learning is affected by student’s own thoughts and self belief and their interpretation of the classroom context.

            A closely related assumption within social cognitive theory is that people have an agency or ability to influence their own behaviour and the environment in a purposeful, good-directed fashion (Bandura, 2001). This belief conflicts with earlier form of behaviourism that advocated a more rigorous form of environment determinism. Social cognitive theory does not deny the importance of the environment in determining behaviour, but it does argue that people can also, through forethought self-reflection and self-regulatory processes, exert substantial influence over their own outcomes and the environment more broadly.

            A third assumption within social cognitive theory is that learning can occur without an immediate change in behaviour or more broadly that learning the demonstration of what has been learned and distinct processes. One reason for this separation is that social cognitive theory also assumes that learning involves not just the acquisition of new behaviour, but also that of knowledge and cognitive skills, concepts, abstract rules, values and other cognitive constructs. This division of learning and behaviour is a shift from the position advocated by behavioural theories that students can learn but not demonstrate the learning until motivated to do so.

            This theory emphasizes cognitive compression as the cornerstone of adolescent behaviour. The adolescents here acquires the mental activity to deal with the world around him, with this developed mental capacity, he perceives and examines his environment, form ideas and make inferences. The basic explanation of deviant behaviour or delinquency is on mentality. Jean Piaget brought about the stage concept of cognitive development, when people go through series of moral stages beginning early in childhood and continuing through the adult years. Each stage of development assumes a relatively a variant order in the course of development. Also each stage is marked by a different view of right and wrong.

1.3       Statement of the Problem

The problem that necessitated this research is students’ indiscipline which could be seen in their poor academic and behaviour performance in various secondary schools in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State. 

The rate of late coming to schools and absents from schools among students is very disturbing which appear to make students to miss some topics taught in schools. The end result may be too devastating to the students and parents.

Most students nowadays are too stubborn and don’t seem to take corrections. Rather than reading and studying hard for their school works, they students tend to distract while teaching is going on in classroom, fight and act in a manner calculated to disrupt the teaching and learning process. All these down facing attitudes among students are threat to achieving better students’ outcomes in schools.

Today’s students see shortcut as a means of passing examination. Every year, several students’ results are cancelled and withheld in some examination centers where cases of examination malpractice are reported. This causes gear deal of damage to the students, parents schools and government in terms of repeating the examinations, paying the school and examination fees all over again. The destructive effect this may have on our country’s image is such that this menace should be fought at all vehemence.

More problems arise from students’ cult activities, deviancy / delinquency which make students to resort to violent means in achieving their academic ends.  Every now and then, we experience disruption of academic activities because of students’ cult activities, and other violent crises happening in our secondary schools. At times, human lives are lost and school properties destroyed. This leads to closing of schools for months and when schools eventually re-open, students may likely forget what they have learnt. It may also cause high school dropouts among students who can’t cope with academic learning. This is a great threat to our country’s education system in training the right personnel that will occupy in various sectors of our economy and provide solution to socio-economic development of our country.

In an attempt to find lasting solutions to myriads of social problems in the country, government has tailored the curriculum of our compulsory education with a view to solving some of the problems and also towards achieving the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) policy initiatives. One of the major outcomes of the committee was the integration of social studies, civic education, Christian and Islamic religion and security education into Religion and National Values. The innovation carried out was both national and pedagogical in nature.

  It is not certain whether efforts taken by government to curbing these behaviours have yielded any fruits in the past. Student participation in anti-social behaviors is on a steady rise. At same time, the alarming effect of this behavior constitutes a major challenge to teachers, parents, guardians, and the government, the stake-holders in the educational sector and even among the well- meaning Nigerians at large.

In the light of the overall challenges of social problems in schools, this study sets out to examine the relationship between social problems and academic performance of students in secondary school in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.4       Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between social problems happening in schools and academic. Specifically, the study is aimed at finding

1.         The relationship between age and students’ moral behavior in relation with academic performance.

2.         The relationship between school entry age and academic performance.

3.         The relationship between cult activities and academic performance.

4.         The relationship between examination malpractice and academic performance.

5.         The relationship between truancy and academic performance.

6.         The relationship between deviancy/delinquency and academic performance.

1.5 The Research Questions

The following research questions will guide the proposed study:

1.         What is the relationship between age and students’ moral behavior in relation with academic performance?

2.         How does school entry age have relationship with academic performance?

3.         Is there a relationship between cult activities and academic performance?

4.         How is examination malpractice related with academic performance?

5.         What relationship exists between truancy and academic performance?

6.         Is there relationship between school deviancy delinquency and academic performance?

7.         Is there relationship between social problems and academic performance of students?

1.6       The Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses will guide the proposed study.

1.         There is no significant relationship between age and students’ moral behiour in relation with academic performance.

2.         There is no significant relationship between school entry  age and academic performance.

3.         There is no significant relationship between cult activities and academic performance.

4.         There is no significant relationship between examination malpractice and academic performance.

5.         There is no significant relationship between truancy and academic performance.

6.         There is no significant relationship between deviancy/delinquency and academic performance.

1.7       Significance of the Study

This research study has implication for addressing social problems in our society and specifically the problem of anti-social behavior associated with urban secondary school students the Lagos metropolis. In view of the prevailing undesirable behaviours in youths, this study will expose the students to the harmful effects of deviance on academic performance and thus serve as a cautionary measure for students.  It will enlighten teachers and school managers or administrators on the behavior pattern of students thereby helping them to use education to adjust the maladjusted students in their anti-social behaviours. This research study will equally educate parents on the associated risk behaviours of adolescents which their children sometimes involved themselves that contribute to their poor performance in school work. This will help inculcate in the students the behavior pattern that the society expected of her citizen, more so, now that the present democratic dispensation is bent on eradication of all corrupt practices. It will also contribute to the existing literature on social problem of among secondary school students and academic performance in the Lagos Metropolis.

1.8       Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is limited to the entire secondary school student in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.9       Limitation of the Study

The study examined social problems happening in secondary schools with particular emphasis on age, school entry age, cult activities, examination malpractice, truancy, deviancy/ delinquency and how the relate with academic performance of students in secondary schools. Also, obtaining materials used for the study poised some constraints.

1.10     Operational Definitions of Terms   

Academic performance: This is the behavior of a student that can be directly observed by evaluating what he/she has learnt during a course of study. This behavior can be measured through class work, homework, class participation and tests.

Absenteeism:  Absenteeism is regular persistent absence from work or school.

Deviance:  This refers to possibility of an individual or group deviating from an established norm. Any behavior which does not conform to the rules, regulations, norms, and values of a given time is viewed as deviance.

Delinquency: this is the behavior pattern that breaks certain rules or laws enacted by constituted authority.

Social problem: A social problem exists when a significant number of people in a society believe that a certain condition is in fact a problem

Examination Malpractice:  a deliberate act of wrong doing contrary to official examination rules and is designed to place a candidate at unfair advantages and disadvantages.

Cultism:  a cult is a pattern of a devotional worship of a deity. It is a deviation from the orthodox norms of public worshiping

Truancy:  staying away from school without any good reason. It means an act of or practice of deliberately staying away from school without any acceptance reason, whether or not the parents or guardians know and approve of it (Fugleman and Richardson, 2001).

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