Impact of Child Labour on School Attendance and Academic Performance
This study assessed the impact of Child labor on school attendance and academic performance of pupils in public primary schools in Niger State. Four specific objectives and four research questions were formulated with four null hypotheses associated. A survey research design was adopted. The population for the study was 37,700 drawn from the three educational zones 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, a 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 a 0.05 level of significance and all were rejected. The findings revealed that children exposed to labor activities had very poor school attendance, and were mostly females. The findings, also showed child labor affects pupils’ academic performance as was revealed on the poor academic achievements of pupils exposed to labor were mostly females, compared to their male counterparts. The study recommended among others that children exposed to labor should be given equal right to attend school regardless of any engagement in labor activity. It is also recommended that government/parents should develop strategies to reduce or eradicate child labor activities.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
The 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, work in the household, farms, hawking, or begging that deprived them of their rights to attend school and acquire their educational background
Child Labour: is any work that the child between ages nine (9) and fourteen (14) is engaged in, that affects the child‟s right to attend a school or acquire the required educational standard. Also for this study, the concept of “child labor” 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: this is a vital and administrative record requirement used by school authorities 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 facts, 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 a special link between the present and future generations, 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 labor.
Child labor is a complex phenomenon, mostly common in rural areas of African and Asian countries. According to Ehiemere (2000), child labor 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 labor age 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 labor 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 labor 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 labor which is outside the home in the market or enterprise. In some homes ‟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 labor has no gender difference in 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 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, children must 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 schools from the 2010/2011 administrative record used by school authorities and parents to monitor, control, and supervise pupils or students’ activities in school.
To check pupils’ or students’ commitment to receiving instruction from the teachers, an administrative record is designed and used daily which is the attendance register Oghuvbu (2001). Oghuvbu (1999) and Alio (2003) looked at the motivation of pupils or students’ attendance through family status and positive educational attitude of parents as well as the right geographical location of schools with appropriate facilities. The researcher observed that in Niger State even when tuition fee is free, uniforms, boots, sandals, and transport fares have to be provided. This decreases the probability of school attendance and increases the probability of work. According to Jensen and Nielson, (1997), and 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 conditions 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 of 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 multiplied by the number of school days of the week and divided by the number of children in the class.
Academic performance meant how pupils or students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish the different tasks given to them by their teachers. In Niger State, most primary school children recorded low grades in their academic performance scores, to 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 pupil‟s academic performance achieved through progress charts, for 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 labor activities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been alleged that there are cases of child labor, 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 an even climate, rich annual rainfall, and availability of a wide variety of mineral and agricultural resources (Annual diary 2008). The researcher observed that with the state’s 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 others invocations 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 the majority of child labor problems. Furthermore, Drusilla and Alan (2002) stated that child labor 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 labor became more visible because children were drawn into an industrial setting.
Drusilla and Alan (2002) explained that children are engaged in child labor because of new technology, household dynamics, culture, market, and political failure which determine the labor force participation rate and educational attainment of young children. The researcher‟s experience in Minna in College of Education revealed that parents engaged in primary four (4), five
(5), and six (6) pupils to work on their farms, especially during the rainy seasons. This situation adds to the low school attendance of pupils and leads 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 the home. This is not different from what the state is experiencing today among the young children in primary schools.
Children engaged in labor activities mostly are in senior classes four to six Adewale (2002) confirmed that children have low school attendance due to the requirements placed on them by their parents to be economically active, which results in children‟slate 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 the impact of child labor 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 the impact of child labor 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 labor and those who are not in public primary schools in Niger state.
2. Determine the differences in academic performance of children exposed to child labor 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 labor in public primary schools in Niger state.
4. Determine the differences in the academic performance of male and female children exposed to child labor 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 labor 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 labor 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 labor in public primary schools in Niger state?
4. What is the difference in the academic performance of male and female children exposed to labor 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 labor 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 labor 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 labor in public primary schools in Niger state.
4. There is no significant difference in academic performance of male and female children exposed to child labor in public primary schools in Niger state.
1.6 Significance of the study
The results of the findings would be 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 develop a positive interest in their children‟s educational pursuits at the 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 labor on pupils ‟s attendance and academic performance of the children with possible solutions.
The result of the findings would encourage the Ministry of Education and curriculum planners to develop strategies that will reduce or eradicate child labor, by introducing assessable schools, reducing or introducing free school fees, and providing food supplements.
The result of the findings would encourage curriculum planners to introduce appropriate curricula to suit each season of the year. The findings would also make educators appreciate pupils through awards of certificates 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-labor-free life whether at school or home.
2. Each primary pupil has an equal opportunity to excel academically in the absence of child labor activities.
3. Children with poor family backgrounds are more prone to child labor activities.
4. Inability of the educators and administrators to address strategies for quality education required by the society given room to child labor 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 recorded poor enrollment in primary schools. The pupils of classes four (4), five (5), and six (6) being seniors ‟s, are engaged in child labor activities such as housekeeping, hawking, farming, and begging, these child labor activities deprived them of attending regular classes, creating serious concern on their educational background.
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