- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Schooling is widely acknowledged as a major investment in human capital that enhances later career opportunities and wages. It serves as an avenue for escaping poverty and reducing income inequality in an economy. The importance of schooling to a child’s social and economic status later in life cannot be overemphasized. The aspirations of our forebears to seek education with enthusiasm and motivation to excel is lacking in the present generation despite the fact that “education is relevant to the demands of a new African nation” (Jegede 2007).The importance of secondary education in the educational system cannot be overemphasized. Apart from serving as the link between primary and tertiary education, it provides the opportunity for a child to acquire additional knowledge, skills, and traits beyond the primary level. (Osho, 2000; Chinelo, Yusuf, 2009; 2011; Ige, 2011) A major factor that necessitates the acquisition of secondary education in Nigeria is that the education being provided at the primary level is insufficient for a child to acquire permanent literacy, communicative, and numeracy skills expected from him/her at the end of the training. As noted by De Cos (2005) with the economy changing from a dependence on manufacturing towards more reliance on technology, services, and a “knowledge economy”, the need for education beyond high school has grown.
However, studies have proven that it is not everyone that enrolled in school that eventually graduates. These students who withdraw from school prematurely end up not obtaining any certificate of graduation. The issue of school dropout is a global problem confronting the education industry round the world (Mohsin, Aslam and Bashir 2004; De Cos 2005; Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison, 2006, and Oghuvbu, 2008. Available statistics shows that in Nigeria, over a million children dropped out of school but the rate of drop out in the rural area is more than that of urban area and the dropout rate for males is higher than for female (NBS, 2010). The same survey shows that awareness of adult literacy programs is higher in the Northern states of the country. This means that gradually, the states that were regarded as educationally backward states are making concerted efforts to acquire education. For instance, the awareness rate of literacy programme and literacy centres in Adamawa is 52.2 and 43.6 respectively while in Anambra state it is 40.2 and 39.7(NCML 2010). In the south-eastern part of Nigeria especially the youths justify their options with the question “ndi gulu akwukwo ha gutalu gini?” meaning that the educated ones have nothing to show for it – in terms of money. Any rational thinking person at ceremonies like weddings, birthdays, funerals and other celebrations will be shocked at the vulgar display of wealth by some of these young businessmen. Unfortunately, many of them fail easily in business because they lack the foresight which higher education would have imbued in them. Also, the public at such displays forgets that the percentage of those who “made it” are very negligible and that a greater percentage of those who went into business are still groping, trying to establish themselves after their disengagement from their masters (settlement) while those in the category of failed businessmen (ndi afia ha dalu) are forgotten. They could not rent shops so engage in selling goods (Igba oso afia) for the more successful ones and may not be able to sell an item for some days. Consequently, they depend on the magnanimity of their colleagues for pittance for food (ego nni), a meal that is sometimes taken (Onyeka 2013). The reason is that the present generation pays less emphasis on integrity; the society places premium on wealth and the end justifies the means syndrome. Also, with the high unemployment rate in the nation the lowly–placed educated ones are derided by the illiterate or semi-literate businessmen (Onyeka 2013).
Secondary education in Nigeria is of six-year duration and given in two stages, junior and senior levels of three years each. Secondary education completes the provision of basic education that began at the primary level, and aims at laying the foundations for lifelong learning and human development, by offering more subject- or skill oriented instruction. In Nigeria of today, Senior School Certificate is considered as the minimum required for most jobs and status positions. This development has serious implications for the economic well-being of dropouts and the society at large. In this era of global economic meltdown and global economic competitiveness, Nigeria as a nation that has vision must make concerted efforts to raise the educational attainment of all its youths who are the leaders of tomorrow.
This study has come at a time when there is high rate of insecurity in the country as a result of criminal activities. Survey tends to indicate that over 85% of the criminal activities perpetuated in Nigeria are done by youths who dropped out of school (Onyeka, 2013). This development has become a cause of serious concern to all well-meaning Nigerians. This tends to suggest that our educational system is in trouble and thus needs a very serious attention in refocusing it and restructuring it for the attainment of national development. It is obvious enough at this point to discern the fact that the issue of attrition at schools is a reality in Nigeria which begs for an empirical understanding of its driving force and the most vulnerable party via-a-vis male/female students in some selected secondary schools in Enugu state, Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Most developed nations have higher attainment in education than the developing nations. As noted by Egwunyenga et al. (2004) Britain had 98% education attainment, United State of America 89% while Nigeria and Sudan had 59% and 33% respectively (Igbuzor, 2006). In Nigeria, it is not just the problem of low literacy but in ensuring that students stay in school until they complete their education. Dropping out is a serious problem because it denies individual students their fundamental human right to education. Internationally, the individual right to education has been repeatedly affirmed in many treaties and conventions such as The 1948 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1990 World Conference on Education for all (UNESCO 2000). There is general consensus that the school dropout problem has reached epidemic proportions internationally and has become a global problem confronting the education industry round the world (Wotherspoon 2004; Bridgeland et al, 2006; Patrick 2008; Oghuvbu, 2008).
The students who withdraw from school prematurely end up not obtaining any certificate of graduation (Ajaja, 2012).The major social costs of dropping out of school include reduced political participation, increased demand for social services, increased crime rates and poor levels of health (Azam, 2007). Individual costs include lower earnings, unemployment prospects, and greater likelihood of health problems (Thurton et al. 2006). It is clear from the foregoing, that by dropping out of school, most students severely limit their chances of economic and social well-being in the future.
The delivery of education in Nigeria has suffered from years of neglect, compounded by inadequate attention to policy frameworks within the sector. The national literacy rate is estimated at 57%; some 49% of teaching force are unqualified (Igbuzor, 2006). There is acute shortage of infrastructure and facilities at all levels. Access to basic education is inhibited by gender issues and socio-cultural beliefs and practices. Wide disparities persist in educational standards and learning achievements. Theoretical knowledge is emphasized at the expense of technical, vocational, and entrepreneurial education. Most reviews on school curricular have not been relevant to needs of the people or practice oriented (Igbuzor, 2006). There is poor monitoring of innovative policies and programmes. In this scenario, most students in Nigeria lack interest in education. 40% of students drop out of school because of lack of interest according to State Educational Directors Association (2008). The 2009 West African Examination Council result showed an overall poor performance with only 26% obtaining a credit pass in Mathematics and English. Moreover the National Examinations Council (NECO) November/ December (2009) result showed 98% failure in English and Mathematics. Only 1.8% got five credits including English and mathematics. According to the Federal Ministry of Education (2009) ‘’it was the poorest result in the history of the examination body’’.
At the primary school level, things are not much better; the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria (2009) observed that ‘’in an international study reported by the World Bank in which 22 countries in sub-Saharan and North Africa are compared, the learning achievement of students in Nigeria’s primary schools were the lowest with national mean score of 30% compared with 70% in Tunisia and 51% in Mali.
According to the Nigerian Literacy Survey 2010, the magnitude of drop out among children (6-14 years) in the nation is unprecedented. Overall adult literacy rate in the country was 71.6%. The adult literacy rates were 73.6% and 49.5% for urban and the rural areas respectively. The overall adult literacy rate among the males was 79.3% while that of females was 63.7%. This means that more males were educated in the past when these adults were younger. The females are gradually taking over especially in the rural areas. Unfortunately, while States from the northern part of Nigeria which used to have the lowest rates some years ago, had an improved adult literacy rate of 48% (Nigerian Literacy Survey:2010), States from the southern part are slacking which makes this study appealing.
The age at which these children drop out of school is a period in human development that is characterized by vibrant and virile functioning of the human system needed for the manifestations of individual skills and talents. Functional and qualitative education facilitates these manifestations while lack of education retards or even prevents them. Educational training therefore produces new breed managers who understand the emerging systems (Oghvbu, 2007) vis-à-vis sustainable development. The trend of buying and selling alone cannot contribute to the meaningful development and the drive for poverty eradication in the nation.
Literatures and empirical studies do exist on attrition and dropout rates among students especially the root causes of these perceived attritions but few studies pay attention to this phenomenon in a comparative perspective between male and female school dropouts and interest in Enugu state is non-existent. Therefore, this study shall endeavour to study the underlining factors that drive this perceived attrition from school in relation to how a gender is more vulnerable than the other with keen interest in some selected secondary schools in Enugu state, Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this study is to compare the attrition of boys and girls in selected secondary schools in Enugu State.
1.3.1 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
- To analyse school-type and students’ preference to stay at school.
- To compare the gender-type that prefers to stay at school the most.
iii. To determine the factors that influence students’ preference to stay in secondary school.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Do students in private secondary schools prefer to stay at school than those in public schools?
- Do male students prefer to stay at school than the female students?
iii. Are there factors that influence students’ preference to stay school?
The following hypotheses guided our inferences in this study:
H01: There is no significant difference in the preference of the students in private secondary schools to stay at school than those in public schools;
H02: There is no significant difference in the attitude of both male and female students towards staying at school;
H03: There are no influential factors driving students’ preference to stay in secondary school.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The facts that are established in this study are significant to the following: policy makers, authorities of the selected schools, parents/guidance, and researchers.
Education with all its potential derivatives has recorded a worrisome rate of attrition of students from schools and a study of this nature simply seeks to unravel the driving force of this attrition vis-à-vis the most affected gender in secondary schools. It is expected that this adventurous study will convince and enlighten the policy makers in the education sector for informed policy choices in addressing the issue of attrition from.
The school authority of the selected schools will also benefit a great deal as it educates them more on the root causes of students’ attrition. The study will also seek to benefit the parents who more often than not are the sponsors of these students about the tendencies of voluntary and involuntary school dropouts. It will also be beneficial to researchers who are interested in understanding central dynamics of attrition from school among secondary school students. 1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Geographically the study is restricted to Enugu state which consists of six educational zones namely; Agbani Educational Zone, Enugu Educatioanal Zone, Obollo Educational Zone, Orji- River Educational Zone, Nsukka Educational Zone and Udi Educational Zone and will cover eight selected secondary schools from two different educational zones in Enugu state namely: Enugu zone and Obollo zone. These zones are chosen on the basis of proximity, accessibility and availability of information. Logically too, this study compared the attrition rates of boys and girls and the driving factors of attrition in the selected secondary schools in Enugu State.