The Affectations of Cult Activities on the Academic Performance of Senior Secondary School Students in Mission Schools
The research work aimed at examining the affectation of cult activities on the academic performance of secondary school students in mission schools. The research was carried out in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau state where five missions-owned secondary schools were randomly selected for the study. From the sample schools, the researcher selected two hundred students from SS One– SS Two, five principles, and eighty teachers as the sample units for the study. Research questions and hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. To answer the research questions and hypothesis, the researcher elicited information from the two hundred students, five principles, and eighty teachers using a five-scale Likert structured questionnaire type. The data collected were analyzed using the criteria mean and response mean scores statistical technique and the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance using chi-square. The findings of the study revealed that molestation, killing, destruction of properties, drug use, raping, and maiming, are the most prevalent activities of cult members in mission secondary schools. The findings of the study also revealed peer pressure as the major cause of students’ involvement in cult practices. The study showed that cult activities have a negative influence on the academic performance of senior secondary students in mission schools. Thus, it was revealed that students who are members of cult groups have no regard for academic activities such as attending classes, reading, and doing assignments. Secondly, most cult members rely only on all forms of examination malpractices to pass their academic tests and examination, and thirdly, the study showed that students who involved themselves in cult practices perform poorly at every school examination. The research also revealed that effective teaching and learning of CRK and Civic Education, adequate and proper guidance and counseling services, adequate and regular orientations, and public speeches on cultism are ways of sensitizing students on the affectations of cult activities on their academic performance. Finally, the study revealed that regular sanitization of students on the affectation of cultism, creation of awareness about cultism, setting up a special committee in schools to deal with cultism, punishment such as 21 years imprisonment or outright expulsion of students found to be cult members as well as intensive teaching and learning of religious, civic and moral education and establishment of effective counseling unit in schools are ways by which cult practices can be curbed in schools. Based on the findings, recommendations were made; that perpetrators of cult activities in schools should be seriously prosecuted and punished, they should be expelled from school or convicted of 21 years imprisonment, that awareness should be created about the affectations of cult activities and that students should be regularly and adequately sensitized about the dangers associated with cult practices in schools. Finally, counseling services should be made available in our secondary schools more than ever.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Of all the factors militating against a smooth academic calendar, secret cult activities appear to be the most intractable today. Ritualistic tendencies, the display of acts of terrorism, and the wanton destruction of life and property perpetrated by members of secret cults have become a grave social concern in and outside the school system. The situation is rapidly assuming alarming and wilder proportions.
The reckless use of offensive weapons including arms and ammunition by cult members or groups portends grave danger for the growth of education in our country. Ojo, (1995) paints a gloomier picture of the situation when he writes that “students keep dying, getting maimed and disfigured; they keep being sexually harassed by occult confraternities. Yet the school authorities are doing nothing to confront the evil”. (p.47)
Lar (2005) in the same vein, points out that the activities of cult members have led to so much loss of life and property, especially in our institutions of learning; Students kill and injure themselves during Intra and inter cult clashes on revenge missions valuables like cars and houses are burnt down electronics, provisions in shops among others are looted.
Cult activities have continued to thrive in Nigeria due to the enormous impression of securing the invincibility of cult members. A major factor working in favor of cult groups is mass ignorance on the part of students, especially the new students who are hoodwinked and deceived to join one secret cult or the other. Secret cult societies could be traced down to the Egyptians. According to ancient Egyptian anthropology, cultism is the state of a phenomenon where persons are bound together with a common belief or cause usually through some ritual.
The word ‘cult’ means a system of religious worship especially one that is expressed in rituals. From this definition cults now popularly known as confraternities, have assumed monstrous features in our institutions of learning. To this end, our various institutions, which were hitherto models for intellectual quest and social upliftment have become citadels of violence and terrorism. The pertinent question that one may ask is; are the phenomenons of cultism and cult activities just entering our institutions of learning? The answer is simply no; this is because international figures have been known to be members of the pirates’ confraternity in their college days. This is further confirmed when there were violent clashes between the Eiye confraternity and Buccaneers at the University of Ibadan in (1989) some notable professors and doctors at the institution were found to be patrons and bankers of these cults.
The proliferation of cult groups such as Vikings, the black axe, the morphine, the buccaneers, the pirates, the black arrow to mention but a few has become familiar features in our secondary schools today even in Mission owned Secondary schools. According to Olaoye, (1999) in 1994, nine students of Baptist High School, Abeokuta were caught performing initiation rites for members of their cult at the midnight. A similar incident was reported in Abia state, where the principal of Methodist College Uzoakoli caught thirteen students with guns in protestation of the expulsion of two students belonging to their cult over the allegation of raping female students in the school. Reports from various institutions as posited by Babatunde (2010) have shown that most secondary schools in Nigeria have become arenas for cult activities.
All the activities and philosophy of secret cults manifest perpetration of acts of violence. Their operations are conducted in secrecy and are carried out during nocturnal initiations and ceremonies. Drug use, extortion, rape, maiming, stealing, arson, examination malpractices, and murder are some of the aftermaths of their secret activities. The philosophy of secret cults according to Osagie, (2004) is demonstrated by their slogans and names, for instance, the pirates say: “Blood for blood” “measure for measure” “No friend no foe”.
Black Axe: “The axe never falls without coming up with bloodstain: In our domain “Mistake hath no place and we don’t believe in coincidence”. cobrab: say “The bleeder must be bled in full measure”.
The philosophy and composition of secret cults suggest organized criminality. It is worth pondering several important questions. What types of decent and well-integrated students and academic environment would our secondary schools have if the philosophy of these secret cults was positive? Can we still have a fully relevant education with the daily increase in cult activities? What legacies is the present generation of our institutions of learning leaving for future generations? Has cultism contributed anything positive to its members, their respective families, school environment, and society at large? These questions require thoughtful answers from cult members, sponsors, and sympathizers; hence the statement of the problem of this research.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is no longer news that one of the evolving problems in our mission schools today is the hydra-headed issue of cultism. Cult activities and practices are becoming common amongst secondary school students even in mission-owned secondary schools where students are expected to attain high moral values and academic excellence. There is no doubt that many mission secondary school students are making their way into secret cults but the question is why are students in mission schools joining secret cults and how do cult activities influence their academic performance?
Cultism runs counter to the principles and practices of Nigerian education and the effect of cult activities is felt at the individual, family, societal, school, national, and international levels.
The individual cultist loses his self-identity to enable him to wear the group identity. He then loses his ability to think and act independently. His values are distorted and he is soon looked upon by society as a criminal. His academic standard makes no meaning to him.
Cult activities yield no return to the huge investment made by parents and society in these students. Instead, they lower productivity, slow down national development, and breed and culture of violence, fear, and instability at all levels.
1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY
The main focus of this study is to examine the various kinds of cult activities and their influences on secondary school students’ academic performance in mission schools in Jos North local government area of Plateau State. Specifically, the study is set to achieve the following objectives.
(1) To identify the prevalent cult activities in mission secondary schools.
(2) To identify the causes of secondary school students’ involvement in cult practices.
(3) To examine how cult activities affect the academic performance of secondary schools students in mission schools.
(4) To sensitize students on the affectations of cultism on their academic performance.
(5) To suggest possible ways of curbing the occurrences of cult activities in mission schools in Jos North.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
To be able to achieve the above objectives of the study, the following research questions were raised to guide the study.
(1) What kinds of cult activities are prevalent in mission secondary schools in Jos North local government area?
(2) What are the causes of students’ involvement in cult practices?
(3) To what extent do cult activities influence the academic performance of secondary school students in mission schools in Jos North?
(4) How would secondary school students be sensitized to the affectations of cultism on their academic performance?
(5) How can the activities of cult groups in mission secondary schools in Jos North Local Government Area be curbed?
The following null hypotheses are formulated to guide the study and were tested at a 0.05 level of significance.
(1) There is no significant relationship between students’ gender and their involvement in cult activities.
(2) There is no significant relationship between students’ awareness and their involvement in cult practices in mission secondary schools.
(3) There is no significant relationship between cult activities and the academic performance of secondary school students in mission schools.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The findings of this study would be helpful to parents, teachers, students, counselors, school administrators, curriculum planners, and all stakeholders in education. To the parents, the study would be enlightenment on the kind of secret cult activities that are prevalent in our secondary schools, especially in mission schools. The findings of the study would expose parents to appreciate the inherent dangers associated with cult activities. It will also help them advise their wards on the need to keep away from cult groups and their practices.
Teachers through the findings of this study would be better informed about the activities of cultism in mission schools and would help them to devise instructional strategies to help students understand the dangers of such activities and learn the implications of cult activities for their studies.
For the students, the study would educate them on the influences of cult activities and how they affect their academic performance. The findings of this study would also help the students to know the dangers of cultism and this knowledge would guide them to shun cultism and face their studies.
Guidance counselors would use the awareness and insight gathered from the study to devise proactive and effective counseling strategies to help students desist from cultism and improve their academic performance.
School administrators especially in mission schools would be exposed to the findings of this study, especially to the various causes of students’ involvement in cult practices, and devise ways of curbing or eradicating cultism in schools. This knowledge if properly implemented would help school administrators to create an academic environment that would be orderly and high achievement-oriented in nature.
The findings of this study would also help curriculum planners to see the need to review the existing curriculum of studies for secondary schools in the state to see the need to include civic and moral education as a compulsory subject for all students because it would serve as a means of fighting social vices including cultism.
Other stakeholders in education and the general public would also benefit from the findings of this study in the sense that the findings of the study would help them to understand the dangers of cult practices in our society and see the need to put all hands on deck to ensure total eradication of cultism in our secondary schools in particular and society at large.
1.7 THEORETICAL/CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
One significant theory related to this study is the theory of crime and delinquency as pioneered by Edwin Sutherland (2003). According to Edwin, criminal behavior is learned by individuals being in contact with situations where criminality is favorably defined. This theory makes the explanation of crime largely a matter of ordinary learning process, rather than biological predisposition. The principle of this theory is concerned with unrealistic and unlimited aspirations which are common with the children of the rich and high-class members of the society. Edwin posits that among the children of the advantaged, there is generally thirst for novelties, unfamiliar pleasure, nameless sensations all of which they believe they can forcefully obtain through secret cult membership.
The theory also sees the collapse of the family institution as contributing factor predisposing students to join a secret cult. According to Edwin, many children no longer have parents they can look up to for inspiration. The existing families only set standards that encourage disorientation. For instance, some secret cult members in schools are from the family background of the cult. Such students have grown up with the awareness that their parents have special rooms, which no one else is permitted to entire. These rooms according to Edwin are usually filled with all sorts of emblems and effigies which nobody can touch. More often, these parents are discovered to go out at night to attend meetings that are never discussed at home. Some students who are either socialized to such situations or through imitation end up being cult members in schools. Another principle of this theory is that moral development and cognitive growth are dependent on certain activities. In other words, the development of brainpower is not fixed at birth but is a function of appropriate activities during any particular stage.
Students must engage in the right contact and appropriate activities to learn and develop their mental faculty in more useful things rather than engaging themselves in cult practices that spell out doom for them in the future. The fundamental problem here is on how to engage mission secondary school students in positively directed activities that will help their moral and cognitive development rather than allowing them to be in contact with situations where criminality such as cultism is favorably defined.
The choice of this theory is well informed by the need to provide for greater involvement of secondary school students in positively directed activities that ensure moral and cognitive development which when achieved, will discourage involvement in cult practices.
1.8 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study is limited just to cult activities in mission secondary schools in Jos North Local Government Area to examine the influence of such activities on the academic performance of students. Again the study focuses on senior secondary school students based on the fact that they are more mature and have spent more years than the junior secondary students.
1.9 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
This section is aimed at defining terms as used in the context of this study.
(1) Influence: The dangers of cult activities on the academic performance of students in mission secondary schools in Jos North Local Government Areas.
(2) Academic Performance: The scores of secondary school students in Christian Religion Studies.
(3) Affectation: Observed dangers, ills, or consequences due to cult activities.
(4) Cultism: Practice or reverence to other deities outside Almighty God.
(5) Cult activities: Diabolical actions and displays usually anti-social in nature perpetrated by students in mission secondary schools in Jos North Local Government Areas.
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