Impact of Child Labour on School Attendance and Academic Performance
This study assessed the impact of Child labour on school attendance and academic performance of pupils in public primary schools in Niger State. Four specific objectives, four research questions were formulated with four null hypotheses associated. Survey research design was adopted. The population for the study was 37,700 drawn from the three educational zone of Niger States. A sample of 600 respondents from classes 4, 5, and 6 were randomly selected for the study. The instruments used for data collection were a self design questionnaire, school attendance register and report cards. Frequency distribution and percentages were used to analyze the data obtained from the respondents. All the four null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance and all were rejected. The findings revealed that children exposed to labour activities had very poor school attendance, were mostly females. The findings, also showed child labour affect pupil’s academic performance as was revealed on the poor academic achievements by pupils exposed to labour were mostly females, compared to their male counterparts. The study recommended among others that children exposed to labour should be given equal right to attend school regardless of any engagement in labour activity. It also recommended that government/parents should develop strategies to reduce or eradicate child labour activities.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Child: is a human being male or female between nine years (9) of age and fourteen (14) years of age, who is in the developmental stage of childhood and is ready to start his/her fundamental basic education.
Labour: Apply to the range of activities which children do like domestic work, to work in the household, farms, hawking or begging that deprived them to their rights to attend School and acquire their educational background
Child Labour: is any work that the child of between ages nine (9) and fourteen (14) is engaged in, that have effect on the child‟s right to attend school or acquire the required educational standard. Also for the purpose of this study, the concept of “child labour” will be defined as children between the age‟s of 9 and 14 years of age who are involved in economic activities for cash, kind or non-wage incentives.
School Attendance: is a vital and administrative record requirement used by school authority and parents to monitor and control annual school attendance. It is measured by multiplying the number of children divided by the number of days the school opens.
Academic Performance: is the pupil‟s ability to study and remember fact, being able to communicate knowledge verbally or written down on a paper. The academic performance of a primary school entitles scores from continuous assessment and the examination of pupils for the academic session.
1.1 Background to the study
Children are special link between the present and future generation, they are a pride of every parent. Childhood is a stage, every child goes through in life, where they are generally regarded as not able to make serious decisions, and legally must always be under the care of a responsible adult. According to Orazen (2003) childhood is a phase of life when a child is free from all tension, fun-loving, plays and learns new things, and is also the sweetheart of the family. From the researcher‟s observation, not all children go through the beautiful stage of childhood; most children went through this period in full tension and burden, made to work to help in maintaining their families. This is called child labour.
Child labour is a complex phenomenon, mostly common in rural areas of African and Asian countries. According to Ehiemere (2000), child labour constituted street hawking, farm work and domestic chores such as taking care of babies, fetching water and firewood, preparing and cooking food, individual cleanliness and washing. Most of the research findings stated earlier affirmed that child‟s labour age to be under fifteen to eighteen years of age as most affected. Therefore, the present study considering the family background of the people in Niger State (farmers), will identify child labour age to be between nine and fourteen years of age. This is in addition to their ability to assist their family physically and financially.
Gunnarsson and Orazem (2003) on the other hand observed that child labour means work done by children under fifteen (15) years of age and generally takes two forms, these are: one unpaid child‟s work in the household or on a household farm, and two the paid child‟s work or labour which is outside the home in the market or enterprise. In some home‟s girls are more likely to work inside the home while boys work outside. The above is similar to what is happening in Niger State, child labour has no gender difference on attendance and academic performance of both sex.
Calfee (2000) and Santrock (2001) affirmed that education is an important dimension of children‟s life. People usually associate education with schools; however, education also occurs in contexts other than school. Children learn from their parents, their siblings, their peers, books, watching television and from the computers. Primary education is the first stage of compulsory education. It is preceded by pre-school or nursery education and is followed by secondary education. In most countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education. The major goals of primary education are achieving basic literacy and numeracy abilities by pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science, geography, history and other social science. The researcher observed these were lacking due to the poor school attendance in most school from the 2010/2011 administrative record used by school authority and parents to monitor, control, and supervise pupils or students activities in school.
In order to check pupils or students commitment to receiving instruction from the teachers, an administrative record is designed and used on daily basis that is the attendance register Oghuvbu (2001). Oghuvbu (1999) and Alio (2003) looked at motivation of pupils or students attendance through family status and positive educational attitude of parents as well as a right geographical location of schools with appropriate facilities. The researcher observed that in Niger State even when tuition fee is free, uniforms, books, sandals and transport fare have to be provided. This decreases the probability of school attendance and increase the probability of work. According to Jensen and Nielson, (1997), Ray (2000), an increase in the returns to education increases the number of children, increases the probability of school attendance and decreases the probability of work condition as the number of children. Ravallion and Wodon, (2000), affirmed that an increase in income or wealth causes increases in the number of children and the likelihood of school attendance condition on the number of children and decreases the likelihood on work. School attendance is a vital administrative record necessary in all the public primary schools in the State. It is recorded by taking the number of pupils‟ attendance multiply by the number of school days of the week and divided by the number of children in class.
Academic performance meant how pupils or students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish their different task given to them by their teachers. In Niger State most primary school children recorded low grades in their academic performance scores, from the record of the State ministry of education. The above therefore was a source of concern to the researcher, who in this study will find out methods to improve on pupil‟s academic performance achieved through progress chart, example spelling and mental test charts, continuous assessment and examination.
Onomodeke (1995) observed that for a pupil or student to be successful in his or her academic performance, the pupil has to be regular in school, face learning problems squarely, avoid late coming to school and he or she should consult with the teacher. Yap (2003) pointed out that a child who attends school more frequently may influence the amount of knowledge he or she gains. However, the more the school attendance the less time a child has on labour activities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been alleged that there are cases of child labour, or the working child, which affects school attendance and academic performance of pupils in public primary schools in Niger state. Niger State is one of the thirty six (36) states in Nigeria that enjoys even climate, rich annual rainfall and availability of wide variety of mineral and agricultural resources (Annual diary 2008). The researcher observed that with the state possession of fertile land as a cherished asset, a number of the population is involved in agriculture with a few earning their living through fishing and other business. It is necessary to ascertain whether some parents/guardians engaged their children on their farms or other in vocations at the detriment of children‟s education.
In addition the failure of children in public primary schools in Niger State to complete their primary school education was due to their inability to combine school attendance with income generation activities to finance their education. Poverty and lack of employment or partial employment and illiteracy among parents/guardians have given birth to majority of child labour problems. Furthermore, Drusilla and Alan (2002) stated that child labour has been an acceptable way throughout history that the fact of young children. Working and the difficult conditions under which children work occasionally become more evident. In the mid 19th and 20th centuries child labour became more visible because children were drawn into an industrial setting.
Drusilla and Alan (2002) explained that children are engaged in child labour because of new technology, household dynamics, culture, market, and political failure which determine the labour force participation rate and educational attainment of young children. The researcher‟s experience in Minna in College of Education revealed that parents engaged primary four (4), five
(5), and six (6) pupils to work on their farms especially during the raining seasons. This situation adds to low school attendance of pupils and leading to poor academic performance in school. The International Labour Organization (ILO) (1998) estimated that 24.6% of children between the ages of ten and fourteen (10-14) in Nigeria were working outside home. This is not different from what the state is experiencing today among the young children in primary schools.
Children engaged in labour activities mostly are in senior classes four to six Adewale (2002) confirmed that children have low school attendance due to the requirements place on them by their parents to economically active, which results to child‟s late school attendance, poor academic performance and interrupted school attendance. This problem according to Applegate and Gunnarsson (2003) explained that children‟s school attendance is important to their academic performance.
The failure of children to attend school and perform better academically is of concern to the researcher due to their inability to combine school attendance with income generation activities. It is against this background that the researcher embarked on this study which dealt with investigating on the impact of child labour on attendance and academic performance of pupils in public primary schools in Niger State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this study is to assess impact of child labour on attendance and academic performance of children in public primary schools in Niger state.
1. Determine the differences in the school attendance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary schools in Niger state.
2. Determine the differences in academic performance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary schools in Niger state.
3. Determine the differences in the school attendance of male and female children exposed to child labour in public primary schools in Niger state.
4. Determine the differences in the academic performance of male and female children exposed to child labour in public primary schools in Niger state.
1.4 Research Questions
As a guide, the following research questions were raised and answered.
1. What are the differences in the school attendance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary school in Niger state?
2. What is the difference in academic performance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary schools in Niger state?
3. What is the difference in the school attendance of male and female children exposed to child labour in public primary schools in Niger state?
4. What is the difference in the academic performance of male and female children exposed to labour in public primary schools in Niger state?
1.5 Null Hypotheses
The following were raised and tested
1. There is no significant difference in school attendance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary schools in Niger state.
2. There is no significant difference in academic performance of children exposed to child labour and those who are not in public primary schools Niger state.
3. There is no significant difference in school attendance of male and female children exposed to child labour in public primary schools in Niger state.
4. There is no significant difference in academic performance of male and female children exposed to child labour in public primary schools in Niger state.
1.6 Significance of the study
The results of the findings would be of significant to the children, parents, community, teachers, Ministry of Education, educators and curriculum planners in the following ways: It would enlighten children on the importance of school through regular school attendance, which would make them appreciate the value of their academic performance.
The results of the findings would make the parents and community to develop positive interest towards their children‟s educational pursuits in primary school level. The findings would be of importance to the parents and community at large through the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) on the effect of child labour in pupil‟s attendance and academic performance of the children with possible solutions.
The result of the findings would encourage Ministry of Education and curriculum planners to develop strategies that will reduce or eradicate child labour, by introducing assessable schools, reduce or introduce free school fees and provide food supplements.
The result of the findings would encourage curriculum planners to introduce appropriate curricular to suite each season of the year. The findings would also make educators to appreciate pupils through awards of certificate of regular attendance to pupils who deserved it.
1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
This study was based on the following assumptions:
1. Each primary school pupil in classes four (4), five (5) and six (6) has the right to live a child labour free life whether at school or at home.
2. Each primary pupil has equal opportunity to excel academically in the absence of child labour activities.
3. Children with poor family background are more prone to child labour activities.
4. Inability of the educators and administrators to address strategies to quality education required by the society given room to child labour activities.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
This study was delimited to only pupils of classes four (4), five (5) and six (6) of the twelve selected local Government areas, out of the twenty five Local Government areas of Zone A, B and C of Niger State. These Local Government Areas according to Niger State Universal Basic Education Board 2010/2011 they recorded poor enrollment into primary schools. The pupils of classes four (4), five (5), and six (6) being senior‟s, are engaged in child labour activities such as housekeeping, hawking, farming, begging, these child labour activities deprived them from attending regular classes, creating serious concern on their educational background.