The effects of family background on the educational productivity and attainment of secondary school students

A case study of some selected secondary schools in Jos South Local Government Council, Plateau State, Nigeria

Diploma Thesis, 2016

54 Pages, Grade: B+


Table of Contents

1.0 Background of the Study
1.1 Statement of the Study
1.2 Research questions
1.3 Aims and objectives
1.4 Scope and Limitation
1.5 Definition of terms
1.6 Conclusion

2.0 Introduction
2.1 The Negative Effects of Family Background on the Educational Productivity and Attainment of Secondary School Students
2.1.1 Causes
2.1.2 Effects
2.1.3 Solutions
2.2 Conclusion

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Research methodology and design
3.2 Population sample
3.3 Instruments used During the Research
3.4 Method of Data Collection
3.5 Techniques of data analysis

4.0 Introduction
4.1 Data Presentation, Analysis and Interpretation
4.2 Conclusion

5.0 Introduction
5.1 Summary
5.2 Recommendations
5.3 Conclusion



1.0 Background of the Study

Education is a key to the growth and development of any nation. Education has become a necessity and a need in the 21st century, as such; education is highly sought for by majority citizens of Nigeria.

Every citizen of Nigeria is supposed to be educated. While the government and private institutions provide the facilities, the responsibility of educating a child totally lies in the hands of parents. This is so because one of the major function or role of the family in the society is educational function. Ogbonna et al (2003) notes that “the family plays the function of giving the child early foundation in his learning process right at home.” (Ogbonna et al (2003: 194). But due to the economic situation of many families, many Nigerians are either not educated at all, or stop schooling/drop out of school because their parents could not afford to send them to school. Some children are not able to attend any educational institution or have to stop school on the way or drop out of school because of the irresponsibility of their parents towards sponsoring them in school. Others stop school/drop out of school as the result of the type of upbringing they receive at home.

Family background can affect students in positive and negative ways. On the negative side, the students from low family background sometimes find it difficult to compete with students from high family background in the same academic environment. This is because in most cases, the students from low family background wrestled with nutritional challenges which sometimes result to health issues; there is inadequate supply of basic academic materials/amenities, there is also inadequate sponsorship which results in the student to do menial jobs after school hours to augment parents efforts. There is also the challenge of inadequate or poor command of English language and communication skills as the child learns and speaks the vernacular language thoroughly at home and sometimes even used by teachers for instruction in the primary school.

On the positive side, the students from low family background are sometimes hard working and always strive for academic excellence as a means of aspiring for a brighter future. The student will avoid engaging in crimes/social vices, the student will also work towards the adequate utilization of his/her parents resources by concentrating fully in school and academic activities etc.

The positive effects of students from high family background includes:- full education sponsorship, provision of adequate amenities both at school and in the home, attending the best schools etc. The negative effects of high family background are mostly poor moral behavior and involvement in crimes and other social vices.

In this research work, the researchers have narrowed this research to the negative effects of family background on the educational productivity and attainment of secondary schools students.

Students from low or poor family background mostly have difficulty in attaining high educational levels. Enoh (2003) observed that this is mostly because most parents with low socio-economic status have “low educational attainment and usually have occupations that attract little recognition or prestige. Such jobs like carpentry, bricklaying or roadside mechanics are such that few individuals attach any respect to.” (Enoh, 2003: 86)

Enoh’s assertion stated above also reflects in the opportunities lower class children will have to attend school. At the primary school level, most parents from the above social status usually afford to send their children to school. But after the primary school, the opportunity to engage secondary school is difficult. Those who made it through the secondary school again find it difficult to enter any tertiary institution. The lower class children in general usually find it difficult to go through the secondary and tertiary levels of education without facing serious financial challenges. Most of the times, those who are privileged to have post primary and post secondary education are sometimes forced to rely entirely on one or few forms of financial aid in order to maintain themselves in school and also meet up all schools obligations.

Educational aspirations of children are also determined by the socio-economic status of a family. Enoh (2003) again observed that lower class children … are pre-so occupied with present problems (that they) have little time to think of tomorrow. Their concern is aimed at how they can survive the day and not so much how glorious tomorrow may be. This leads to a diminishing aspiration in almost all aspects of all life, including education.

Kay (1975) pointed out that it is now accepted that the lower-class child has less chance of succeeding in school than his more privileged peer. This is evident in the failure of such children to meet up all the financial obligations of the school or sometimes have to join schooling with working extensively to help their parents provide food for the family and also provide some of their basic school needs.

The experiences in the home also have some negative effects on the educational productivity and attainment of students. The children from the lower class have more negative experiences in the home than their peers from the higher class. Some of this experiences that affect the educational productivity and attainment of such children include going to the farm and for business before and after school, sometimes affect the academic performances of children from the lower class as they always have little time to read their books and do their home works.

1.1 Statement of the Study

The quality and level of education in Nigeria today is determined by the family background of an individual. This has become a worrisome phenomenon in the minds of the researchers, hence the choice of this research topic.

1.2 Research questions

The following questions will be answered in this research work

i. How does Family Background affects the Educational productivity and Attainment of Secondary School Students?
ii. What effects does Family Background have on the Educational productivity and Attainment of Secondary School Students?
iii. How will this trend be reversed and averted?

1.3 Aims and objectives

This study is aimed at investigating how the family background affects the educational productivity and attainment of children in secondary school. The research also hopes to proffer solutions to this phenomenon.

The objectives of the study are as follows:-

i. To identify how the family background of students affects their educational productivity and attainment
ii. To suggest and recommend ways by which the family background of students will not affect their educational productivity and attainment
iii. To provide a reference material for future researchers and for the benefit of the general public.

1.4 Scope and Limitation

This study is limited to some selected secondary schools in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria.

The study is restricted to four secondary schools in the local government area; this is due to the large size of the local government area. These four schools will serve as a good representative of the other schools in the local government area. The four schools include those owned by the government and those owned by private individuals or organizations. These four schools include:

a. Government Secondary School, Bukuru, Plateau state, Nigeria.
b. Government Secondary School, Gyel, Plateau state, Nigeria.
c. Abbah Memorial College, Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria.
d. TCNN Staff Secondary School, Bukuru, Plateau state, Nigeria.

1.5 Definition of terms

a. Family: Ogbonna et al (2003) summarized the definition of family from various authors as a

primary unit of the society comprising a man and a woman joined by marriage with their biological or adopted children. The group normally shares a common resident (household), economic activities for their well being and mutual cooperative relationships. The man assisted by the woman (wife) serves as the head of the structural unit and both can engage in socially approved sexual relationship, procreation and adoption of children whom they have obligation to care for and bring up for the benefit of the society.

Schaefer and Lamm (1983) also defined family as a “set of people related by blood, marriage (or some other agreed-upon relationship), or adoption who share the responsibility for reproducing and caring for members of the society” (Schaefer and Lamm (1983: 378)

b. Education: Whitehall (1956) defines education as “the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind, character, etc especially by formal schooling, teaching, and training.” (Whitehall (1956: 577)

Yalmut (2010) also defines education as “the totality of experience that a person goes through while living including both formal and informal experience, useful and useless experiences, relevant and irrelevant experiences, and positive and negative experiences which result in a change in behavior regardless of whether or not this change in behavior is measurable.” (Yalmut, 2010: 259)

c. Educational: Whitehall (1956) defines educational as “relating to education… educating, giving instruction or information.” (Whitehall, 1956: 577)

d. Attainment: Whitehall (1956) defines attainment as “the act of attaining, the act of arriving at or reaching by effort… that which is attained, as an acquired skill or accomplishments.” (Whitehall, 1956: 120)

e. Background: Whitehall (1956) defines background as “surroundings, especially those behind something and providing harmony or contrast, surrounding area or surface.” (Whitehall, 1956: 136)

f. Effects: Whitehall (1956) defines effects as “influence or action on something… to bring about, cause to happen, accomplish, produce as a result.” (Whitehall, 1956: 577)

g. Secondary school: Yalmut (2010) defines secondary school as a school “catering for boys and girls during the years of adolescence, the curriculum contains in a number of subjects not taught in primary schools from which varying selections are primarily made for individual pupils, though there will be throughout most of the course a common core of subjects studied by all.” (Yalmut, 2010: 262). Whitehall (1956) also defines a secondary school as “a school, especially a high school, giving a secondary education.” (Whitehall, 1956: 1639)

h. Status: Enoh (2003) defines status as the “amount of recognition or prestige an individual enjoys in a society” (Enoh, 2003: 86)

i. Class: Whitehall (1956) defines class as “a group of people considered as a unit according to economic, occupational, or social status, especially, a social rank or caste.” (Whitehall, 1956: 334)

j. Poverty: Whitehall (1956) defines poverty as “the condition or quality of being poor, need, indigence, lack of means of subsistence.” (Whitehall, 1956: 1411)

k. Opportunity: Enoh (2003) defines opportunity as “the chances each of the two classes children will have to attend school” (Enoh,2003: 89)

1.6 Conclusion

The family background of children is so powerful in determining their educational productivity, attainment, aspirations in life and their job placement. This calls on government to provide more scholarship and education grants targeting the lower class children.


2.0 Introduction

In this chapter, a review of literatures that are related to the subject at hand has been carried out. This has added to our understanding as to what the effects of family background on the educational productivity and attainment of secondary school students is all about. This chapter has reviewed books by some authors that have given an adequate knowledge on the subject matter at hand aimed at helping parents or families prevent any negative effects family background on the educational background of their children.

2.1 The Negative Effects of Family Background on the Educational Productivity and Attainment of Secondary School Students

2.1.1 Causes

Smiths (2007) subscribe to human capital theory as presented by Becker (1964) that “participation in education is an investment in human capital made because of the expected returns later in life” (Smits, 2007: 6). This investment in the education of children is the sole responsibility of parents, guardians or other caretakers especially if children are dependants. This investment in the education of children is beneficial to both the children and the parents in the future. In line with this, Smiths (2007) submits that as far as children’s education is concerned, the parents are expected to “weigh off the future benefits of sending their children to school against the immediate costs. Those benefits can be for the child, but also for the parents themselves, because in the absence of pension systems, children may be the old-age security.” (Smits, 2007: 6)

The above being stated, it is worthwhile to also note that there are many factors militating against educational attainment and productivity of students. The socio - economic status of parents is one of the major causes that family background can affect the educational attainment and productivity of students. The socio-economic status of a family provides the home environments and experiences that will mold a child which has a lot of effects on the children in every sphere of their lives. This also determines the academic environments and experiences of a child. Ogunshola and Adewale (2012) quoted Laosa (2005) that “The educational achievement gap has deep root; it is evident very early in child’s lives; even before they enter schools. Socio–economic differences – such as health and nutrition status, home environments that provide access to academically related experiences, mobility rates, and financial assets can certainly influence academic achievements” (Ogunshola and Adewale 2012: 232).

The above quotation from Laosa implies that children from low socio-economic families will be affected physically, socially, economically and academically more than children from the high socio-economic families. This is reflected in the following areas:

a. Health status. The socio-economic background or status of parents results in the type of medical care their children receive hence determining their health status. The health status of a child affects his/her academic performance negatively especially if the parents are from the low socio-economic status. Ogunshola and Adewale (2012) quoted Adewale (2002) who reported that “in a rural community where nutritional status is relatively low and health problems are prevalent, children academic performance is greatly hindered.” (Ogunshola and Adewale 2012: 231).

The health and nutritional status and condition of a pregnant woman form the developmental environment of an unborn child and determine the brain or intellectual development of the child. This will show in the comprehension and educational alertness of the child as he or she grows up to maturity and passes through the different levels of education. In view of this, Ogunshola and Adewale (2012) quoted Lisa et al (2003) that “Whatsoever affect the development environment of children would possibly affect their education or disposition to it. Parental status is one of such variables. When a woman’s nutritional status improves, so too does the nutrition of her young children” (Ogunshola and Adewale 2012: 230).

b. Parental occupation. Parents whose job barely feeds and take care of the family hardly spare funds to invest in their children’s education. Some that struggle to send their children to school find it difficult to fully be involved in and support the educational activities of their children. Desforges and Abouchaar (2003) referred to the report of a study by Sui-Chu and Willms (1996) on the involvement of parents in the school progress of their children. The report admits that “there is a strong relationship between social class and parental involvement. The higher the social class, the more parental involvement was evident” (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003: 21). This implies that, the lower the socio-economic class, the less parental involvement and support will be evident.

c. Poverty. Many families are struggling with poverty. Some parents are jobless while others are local traders, laborers, messengers, cleaners, farmers etc who most of the times have periodic income which makes them to live below the poverty line. Such families are living from hand to mouth, i.e. all their struggle is afford what to eat, any other issue like health, and education etc is a secondary issue. Families living under this condition find it difficult to sponsor their children’s education. Desforges and Abouchaar (2003) observed that “the poorer are people’s circumstances the more difficult it is assumed to be to support a child’s educational development.” (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003: 16).

Families that struggle with poverty majorly struggle with material or resources deprivation. This affects the level and extent to which parents will be involved in the educational pursuits of their children. Regarding this, Desforges and Abouchaar (2003) submits that Material deprivation had a strong, negative effect on parental involvement.

As material deprivation worsened, parental involvement decreased markedly. Material deprivation was notably worse for families in the lower social classes. The deprivation factor accounted for a great deal of the differences in parental involvement between the social classes. At age 16 the effect of material deprivation on pupil achievement and adjustment was twice that of parental involvement, ‘significantly undermining the positive effects of parental involvement on children’ (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003: 17-18)


Excerpt out of 54 pages


The effects of family background on the educational productivity and attainment of secondary school students
A case study of some selected secondary schools in Jos South Local Government Council, Plateau State, Nigeria
Ahmadu Bello University  (Institute of Education)
Professional Diploma in Education
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
748 KB
south, local, government, council, plateau, state, nigeria
Quote paper
Longji Ayuba Dachal (Author)et al. (Author), 2016, The effects of family background on the educational productivity and attainment of secondary school students, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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