1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Birth, marriage and death are the standard trio of key events in most people’s live. But out of these three events; ‘marriage’ is a matter of choice. The right to exercise that choice was identified as a principle of law starting from the Roman era and has been established in the international human right instruments. Yet, many girls enter into marriage without any choice of exercising their right to choose. Most of them are forced into marriage at their early or tender age. Others are simply too young to make a matured decision about their marriage partner or about the consequences of marriages itself. They may have given what passes for ‘counsel’ in the eyes of the law, but in reality, consent to their binding union has been made by other on their behalf (Bunting, 2012).
The axiom is that once a girl is married she has automatically become a woman regardless her age. Early marriage, which is marriage of children and adolescents below the age of 18 is still widely practiced most especially in the Northern part of the country. There are various forms and causes of early marriage, but one issue is prominent, which is early marriage is a violation of human right. The right to free and full consent to marriage is recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in other human right instruments (Shehu, 2010; Bunting, 2012). Early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts, which has the capacity to dash away the educational opportunities and chances for personal growth. it almost leads to pregnancy and childbearing, and is likely to result into a lifetime domestic and sexual subservience.
For many young girls in developing countries, marriage is perceived as a means of securing and protecting their future. Girls are forced into marriage by their families while they are still children in the hope that marriage will yield them returns financially and socially (Shobba, 2009). On the contrary, early marriage violates the rights of children with negative implications. It compromises their overall development, leaving them socially isolated with little or no education, skills and opportunities for employment and self-realization. These conditions ultimately make married girls susceptible to poverty. These girls are required to do a disproportionate amount of chores, which includes new roles and responsibilities as wives and mothers. The young bride’s status in the family is frequently dependent on her, demonstrating their fertility often within the first year of her marriage. At this time, she is not psychologically, emotionally and physiologically prepared for these roles. Additionally, girls are made responsible for the care and welfare of future generations while still children themselves. Young mothers with no decision-making powers, restricted mobility and no economic resources are likely to transmit this vulnerability to their kids. Therefore, early marriage directly compounds to feminization of poverty and intergenerational poverty.
Early marriage leads to early pregnancy and motherhood, which adversely affects the education of girls in schools. Inspite of the recognition of women education, there are many barriers in the way of women to get higher education and contribute their maximum impact to the betterment of the society. The mindset of the society does not allow girls for higher education in that, it promotes gender inequality and ensures prioritization of economic resources for boy-child (ren). They get fewer opportunities not only in education, but also in all facets of life (Daraz, 2012). Studies conducted by Goldien (2007) revealed that many young married women face many problems and leave their education uncompleted due to different social and cultural factors. Even if they are fortunate to complete their education, their performance is abysmally poor. This termination of education and abysmal poor performance in their studies is the outcome of the challenges encountered when combining education with their responsibilities as home-keepers in their families.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Early marriage is a symbol of poor orientation. Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and milestone in one’s life. Sadly, the practice of early marriage involves the deprivation of fundamental human rights. Young girls are robbed of their youthfulness and required to take on roles, they are not emotionally prepared for. Majority of the young girls have no choice about the timing of marriage or about their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too tender to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health, wellbeing, education and participation in civil life.
There has been consensus in literature that early marriage disrupts, disturbs and distorts the academic performance of female students, but these does not imply that all students involved in early marriage perform poorly in education. Early marriage poses great threat to the academic performance of students coerced into it. Poor attendance to class, limited time to read and study, digressed focus from academics to families’ welfare, withdrawal at times and poor time management. All these challenges have been identified in existing literature as the effects of early marriage on female academic performance.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to examine the effect of early marriage on female academic performance in Nigeria, using a case study of three south-western universities.
The specific objectives of the study include
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In accordance with the research objectives, the questions of interest raised in the study are:
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
A hypothesis is a proposition made on the basis of limited information and evidence, which is used to make a valid conclusion and judgment. The hypotheses formulated in this study are:
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study through its findings is of immense benefits in the following areas:
Female students will gain from this study by learning that education is the only way to achieving greater goals in life, and this will help them in correcting the instability that had existed in girl’s education.
Parents will gain a great deal in this study by getting to learn that women education is not a waste, and also if you educate a man, but if you educate a women you educate a family, a nation, and this will help change their attitudes and ignorance towards girls education.
Government, both the Federal, State and Local levels will gain from this study by realizing from this study that funds, higher access education, poverty easing programmes should be made available for education at all levels.
Educators, educational planners, the general public will gain from this study by learning that girls are in no way inferior to men, they also gain by learning how to educate, guide and counsel girls in carrier choices of educational courses.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study focused on the effect of early marriage on female academic performance on Nigerian women who have experienced early marriage in three selected South-western Universities namely University of Lagos, University of Ibadan and Federal University of Technology, Akure.
However the research has some constraints which are:
a) Dearth of Research Material: The research materials available to the researcher are insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
b) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Unwillingness of the respondents to participated in the survey for fear of victimization.
The study relied on primary data for the empirical analysis of the study. The descriptive survey research design coupled the purposive sampling technique were adopted to select 225 female married undergraduate students in the three universities of interest namely University of Ibadan, University of Lagos and Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).
A well-developed and standardized questionnaire was used to collect data from the respondents. The data obtained were analyzed using the descriptive statistics technique and the chi-squared technique was employed to test the two hypotheses that guided the study at 0.05 significance level.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Education: Education is defined as the process of easing learning, or the learning of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.
Early Marriage: Early marriage or child marriage is defined as the union between two people in which one or both parties are younger than 18 years of age.
Academic Performance: Academic performance is the outcome of education, the point to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals. Academic performance is commonly measured by examinations or continuous assessment but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspects are more important.
Bunting A. (2012); The Fundamental Human Rights: Diversity of Context. New York, Mc-Graw Hill.
Daraz, R. (2012); Child Marriage in Rwanda Refugee Camps. Journal of Social Issues, 3(4): 232-256.
Goldien, L. (2007); Early Marriage and Motherhood in Sub-saharan Africa. Sage publications, London.
Shehu, M. (2010); Poverty of Economically Deprived Women and Children in Emerging Countries. International Journal of Social Issues, 29(1):73-86.
Shobba, A. (2009); Community Attitude towards Female Education in Nigeria. International Journal of Academic Research in Public Policy, 2(2): 970-976.
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