The study examines the effect of polygamy and large family size on students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State. The descriptive research survey was employed in the assessment of the respondents’ opinions with the aid of a questionnaire. A total of 350 (three hundred and fifty) respondents made up (175 males and 175 females) were selected to represent the entire population of the study. Four (4) hypotheses were tested in this study, with the aid of the independent t-test statistical tool for hypotheses one, three and four, while hypothesis two was tested with the use of the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient statistical instrument. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the data analyses, the following results were obtained; that there is a significant effect of polygamy on students’ social adjustment, there is a significant relationship between polygamous/large family size and students’ academic performance, there is no significant difference between the performance of students who live in polygamous/large family size and those in monogamous/small family size, and there is a significant impact of lack of fatherly attention on students’ academic performance in school.
Background to the Study
The human family has long been besieged by many problems. The problems in question, existed side by side with the human without threatening it with extinction. History relates with the effects of child abuse and neglect, abject poverty, wife battery, absentee husbands, child trafficking, adolescent problems, economic austerity, famine, insecurity, violence, divorce and separation. According to Annie (2000), the recent problem facing the family structure in the contemporary society, is the problem of polygamy and large family size. Anthropological literature often report that African cultures are greatly polygamous, the term used when one man has more than one wife. Traditionally, it is the woman who chooses a co-wife – someone with who she can cope well, like a younger sister or cousin, and in cases where the husband needs a subsequent wife, the preceding wives get to pick their co-wife or wives (Whyte, 1990).
According to Ekiran (2003), the polygamous family is any type of plural marriage. This could be polygamy, in which a man is married to two or more women at the same time. Care of the major characteristics of polygamous family is large family size. For instance, in a polygamous family, a man has many wives and many children. In most cases, the husband of the house may not be wealthy to take care of all the members of the family. In this case, the educational career of the children suffers a lot of set backs (Uzomah, 2006). According to Nkemdirim (2005), most children who come from the polygamous homes hardly perform well in their academic work. He opined that children from the monogamous homes perform better than their counterparts who come from the polygamous families.
Adeogun (2000) is of the opinion that children do well in school when they are supported by their parents, and on the other hand, do not perform well if their parents fail to support their educational career. In a polygamous family where the size of the family is quite large, the man who is the bread-winner, may not be able to pay the school fees of the children, purchase their educational materials such as books, school uniforms, pocket money and other items necessary for the children’s success in school. When a student lacks the opportunity of being provided for and supported to succeed in his or her education, the child may not have high educational achievement (Ayo, 2002). Parents who have many children as a result of polygamy, oftentimes, fail to cater for all the children by giving them equal and unbiased treatment. According to Uzodike (2000), parents who are polygamists, are noted for giving unequal treatment to their children/wards. In many polygamous homes, parents are selective in the education of their children/wards. For instance, they do not allow all children to go to school, due to the fact that they (parents), do not have the to sponsor all their children’s education. Rather, they send some of their children to school, while some of them are forced to learn one trade or the other because, the meagre resources of the family will not be able to support all the children through school.
In most cases, Adekoya (1990) stated that parents who belong to the polygamous homes are not educated and so, do not know the importance of education to the children. For the fact that they are not educated, coupled with their positions as poor individuals, find it difficult to train their children to school. Some of them learnt one trade or the other, prefer their children to toe their lines of trades or businesses, instead of wasting time going through the rigours of education and learning. In a study carried out by Onyeji (2001) most polygamous homes do not support the education of their children, because the children are too many to be educated. In another development, children from monogamous homes tend to be more educated than their counterparts in the polygamous homes. Reason is that children are few in the monogamous homes, and this helps parents to sponsor them through school because they can afford to pay their school fees and other payments in the school. This situation has caused children who are in monogamous homes to have more academic achievement than those in polygamous homes who are greater in number.
The effect of a large family on academic achievement of a child cannot be overemphasised. According to Munonye (1999) the size of a family may affect the academic performance of the child directly or indirectly. In a study conducted by Musgrave (1996) the researcher asserted that intelligent parents show their intelligence by limiting the size of their families. He opined that in a small family, the child is in close touch with his or her parents, and uses more grown up language and ideas than he or she would have done if it were in a cloud of siblings, especially in a polygamous home. Oloko (1999) revealed that some pupils from large families, have little or no time to read or even to do their home works. They work till late in the might and the following day, they sleep in the classroom while the lessons are going on. Often, this has negative effect on academic performance. Ola (1990) discovered the same effect of hawking on some Lagos State primary school children who hawk during traffic hold ups. She concluded that the large family size due to polygamous structure, has forced them to look elsewhere to find other means of getting money to feed the family. They neither have time to take siesta nor have time to study in the evening. Thus, they perform poorly academically.
As Gallapher (1999) puts, in a family that is relatively large, especially in the polygamous ones, no one child is focused up and so, the parents especially the father cannot afford to offer them all, adequate and equal amount of assistance both in their studies and parental cares needed by the child. Muntreal (1991), agreed that children from small size family, perform better than those from large size family. Fraser (1993), also supported the argument that children of large families, have limited opportunities, verbal symbols, hence, they are at disadvantage not only in terms of verbal fluency and vocabulary, but also in the process which depend so largely on the acquisition of these verbal symbols.
In a related study, Nimkoff (2000) stated that large families or polygamous marriages tend to lower the educational achievement of “more capital members of the family” and thereby lowering their economic incentive than children from small families in some cases, monogamous marriages. Large families, according to Adamson (2004) restricts choice of opportunity because decisions are supposed to be made on the basis of what is best for the family, and not for the individual. It is against this background that this study, an examination of polygamous and family size as determinants of students’ academic performance was carried out.
Statement of the Problem
The problems that are inherent in polygamous as a type of family system cannot be over-emphasised. This is because, the polygamous family structure is usually characterised with large family size comprising mostly of children and wives. Also, the resultant effect of large family size is as a result of polygamy, especially on the academic performance of students which cannot be overemphasised. What this means is that, in most cases, large family size does not augur well with high academic achievement of children.
According to Musgrave (1994), the size of the family may affect the academic performance of the child either positively or negatively. In a polygamous family where the size of the family is quite large, the man who is the bread-winner, may not be able to pay the school fees of the children, purchase their educational materials such as books, school uniforms, pocket money and other items necessary for the children’s success in school. When a student lacks the opportunity of being provided for and supported to succeed in his or her education, the child may not have high educational achievement (Ayo, 2002). Parents who have many children as a result of polygamy, oftentimes, fail to cater for all the children by giving them equal and unbiased treatment. The above problems, give rise to the examination of the effect of polygamous and family size on student’s academic performance.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is:
1. To find out the effects of polygamy on the family.
2. To find out whether polygamous and large family size have influences on students’ academic performance in schools.
3. To find out if students from polygamous and large size families perform poorly than students from monogamous or small size families.
4. To find out if lack of fatherly attention in a polygamous home has negative impact on students’ academic performance.
5. To find out if school management including disciplinary committee handles problems arising from polygamous and large size families.
The following research questions were raised in this study:
1. What are the possible effects of polygamy on the family?
2. Do polygamous and large family size have influence on students’ academic performance?
3. Do students from polygamous and large family size perform poorly than those from monogamous or small size families?
4. Does lack of fatherly attention in a polygamous family have impact on students’ academic achievement?
5. To what extent do school management and disciplinary committee handle problems arising from polygamous and large family size?
6. Will there be a possible solution to the problem of polygamy and large family size on students’ academic achievement?
The following hypotheses were tested in this study:
1. There is no significant effect of polygamy on social adjustment of students in the school.
2. There is no significant relationship between polygamy and large family size and students’ academic performance.
3. There is no significant difference between the performance of students from polygamous and large family size and those from monogamous or small size families.
4. There is no significant impact of lack of fatherly attention on students’ academic performance.
Significance of the Study
The findings will be of immense worth to parents and adults to know the impact of polygamy in their children’s academic performance at school and to know the hazards of keeping large family sizes. The study will also help the students greatly because it will enlighten them on some of the variables that will contribute to their academic failure and to consult the school counsellor who will assist them to find solutions to their home problems. This research will further equip the school counsellors, psychologists, sociologists, educators and the general public with a thorough understanding of different family backgrounds, the associated problems and the extent to which these variables influence students in the school. At the end of the research work, the government and the policy makers will see the need for providing all secondary schools with guidance counsellors, psychologists and sociologists whose duty is to relate students academic problem to such factors as the family size and parental background, and the parental variables so as to help foster and better their academic performance.
The Conflict-Marxian Theory of Family Marx Weber (1864 – 1920).
This theory see the process of marriage and the family as sympathetic in which members of the family encounter unending problem of conflicting interests. The Conflict-Marxian theorists perceive marriage and the family as a continuous competitive social system. Arnolds (1990) stated that competitive, due to its nature of being a state of negative interdependence between the elements of social system. Due to this conflict, there is gain/loose situation, because what is gained to one party, becomes loose to the other party in the great divide. The most important ingredients or elements in the conflict – Marxian theory is that conflict is unavoidable part of humanity and associations which involves family life and marriage. Adamson (2000) observed that the Marxian theories see the family as an institution surrounded with inevitable confrontation or conflict and of constant state of change.
The emphasis worthy of note in this theory, is the competing needs, values, goals or objectives of partners who are involved in marital unions. For the fact that people’s wants/needs are scarce and in little quantity, therefore, this desires to attain or get one’s needs or wants, brings about competition and conflicts among people in the society, more especially the family. Edith (1998) stated that the Conflict – Marxian theorists do not see the constant confrontation in the family as necessarily destructive, rather they consider conflict in the family as essential element and catalyst of interest that are out to be treated in a constructive manner through negotiation and compromise.
The Conflict-Marxian theorists therefore, perceive conflicts in the family potentials for the promotion and enhancement of interpersonal growth and development in the family. The above theory is apt to the topic polygamy and family size and the students’ academic performance. This is because in polygamous and large sized families, there tend to be rivalries between wives and among children of the wives. Most times, this rivalry bring about hatred among the children and among the wives of the polygamous man. The after effect could be the man loving some children and hating some of them. In other words, he could be selective of who to sponsor to school and whom he should not.
Scope of the Study
The study will be limited to Ikorodu Education Zone of Lagos State.
Definition of Terms
Family Size: This is a number of people in a family which includes father, wife/wives, the children, relatives and other dependents.
Small Size Family: A family comprising parents with one to four children.
Large Size Family: This is a family comprising of parents with five and above number of children with relatives and other dependents.
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