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PARENTAL LITERACY, GENDER AND CULTURAL BELIEFS AS CORRELATE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL GIRLS’ ATTITUDES AND PERFORMANCE IN CHEMISTRY
This study investigated the parental literacy, gender and cultural beliefs as correlates of secondary school girls’ attitudes and performance in chemistry. The study employed a descriptive survey research design. An instrument titled: Parental literacy, gender and cultural beliefs as correlates of secondary school girls’ attitudes and performance in chemistry (PLGCBCSSGAPC) was used to collect relevant data for the study. The five secondary schools involved were selected based on simple random sampling technique and the statistical tools employed to analyse the data collected were percentages while the inferential statistics of t-test was used to test the stated hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. 200 sample sizes were used for the study. 6 research questions and 6 research hypotheses were designed and formulated for the purpose of the study. The study revealed that there is a significant relationship between parental socio economic status and academic achievement of girls in secondary school. It also revealed that there is a significant relationship between parental encouragement and academic achievement of girls in secondary school. The study further revealed that there is a significant relationship between parental education and academic achievement of girls in secondary school. The study further that is a significant influence of positive attitudes of students towards their academic achievement in chemistry subject. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations and suggestions were made for students, parents, teachers and school administrators and relevant agencies for further research.
1.1 Background of study
Traditionally, parental involvement in education included contribution to their children’s home-based activities helping with home-work, encouraging children to read, and promoting school attendance and school-based activities attending Parent-Teachers’ Association meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and participating in fund raising activities (Alrehaly, 2011).
It is increasingly being recognized that parental involvement in their children’s education may enhance better performance in school. That is, a closer link between home and school is considered one of the essentials for educational improvement (Rasinski & Fredricks, 2008). There is mounting evidence that parents play an important role in the literacy development of their children. Anderson, Hiebert, Scott and Wilkinson (2005) observe that “Parents play roles of inestimable importance in laying the foundation for learning to read”
Hixson (2006) explained that involvement of parents and families is often cited as one of the most important ways to improve public schools. Parental involvement makes an enormous impact on the student’s attitude, attendance, and academic achievement and it promotes better cooperation between parents and school. It also allows parents and teachers to combine efforts to help the children succeed in school.
Epstein (2005) identified six areas of parental involvement in their children’s academic activities: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and collaborating with the community. If parents are actively involved in these areas, no doubt it will stimulate children’s interest in school and positively influence academic achievement. Keith and Quirk (2008) found that parental involvement influences the student’s grade average and that the same influence holds across gender, but not across ethic groups. Paulson (2004) examined some college students regarding their parents’ responsiveness, school involvement interest, and commitment to achievement. Boys reported that both maternal and paternal support significantly predicted their achievement; however, girls reported that parental involvement and style did not predict their achievement. Based on findings from this study, therefore, parental involvement seems to be sensitive to student gender.
Chemistry has been identified to be one of the important subjects needed for the sustenance and transformation of the national economy, and hence should be accorded adequate attention. Advancement in science and technology has created a greater demand for more people to study chemistry and this is particularly important in the realisation of Nigeria’s vision to become an industrialized nation. Acquisition of appropriate scientific and technological skills is necessary to cope with the challenge presented by the evolving needs of the modern work place in the industries and the ever growing non- formal sector. Education and training systems that responds adequately to these demands will therefore, contribute to the efforts to overcome the growing unemployment and marginalization of majority of the population. Parents’ provision of appropriate learning experiences, designed to broaden skills and knowledge can increase productivity and significantly improve the fortunes of the young ones, thereby reducing poverty and unemployment amongst the youth (Adesoji, 2008).
It is as a result of the recognition given to Chemistry in the development of the individual and the nation that it has been made a core pre-requisite subject for offering most science oriented courses in the tertiary institutions and this calls for the need in teaching it effectively. It is worth mentioning that the development of the students’ positive attitude towards chemistry is necessary because attitude is linked with academic achievement (Cheung, 2009). Similarly, a study conducted by Kelly (2008) concluded that the British students’ liking for a specific science subject were the actual predictor of their choice in school in various subjects like Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Therefore, students should consider the development of positive attitude towards the chemistry subject as one of their central responsibilities (Cheung, 2009). In Nigeria, the students’ performance in chemistry in the Senior Secondary School certificate examination has persistently remained below average. This has been attributed partly to the negative attitudes adopted by the students towards the chemistry (Siringi, 2010). This further underscores the importance of promoting positive attitudes towards Chemistry by female students in secondary schools.
Education of girls, in particular, contributes to the various aspects of their lives such as increased productivity, family health and nutrition, reduced fertility rates and related child mortality rates (Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 2005).
Parental influence has been identified as an important factor affecting girl student’ academic achievement; parents’ education and encouragement are strongly related to improved student achievement (Wang et al., 2006).
Parental education and social economic status have an influence on student rates and related child mortality rates (Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 2006). Parental influence has been identified as an important factor affecting girl student’ academic achievement; parents’ education and encouragement are strongly related to improved student achievement (Wang et al., 2006). Parental education and social economic status have an influence on student out of school temporarily to look for food, clothing and at times shelter. When they are readmitted back to schools their performance in class work is generally below average. The Kenya Government sessional paper number 1 of 2005 (Republic of Kenya, 2005) calls for affirmative action to enhance girls participation in education and other areas of employment; it was entrenched in the country through the affirmative action bill in 2007. It is also included in the constitution of Kenya (2010), chapter 8 article 100 (a) and 197(a). The current study investigated how applicable the affirmative action was to girl student academic achievement whose status indicates that academic excellence is the panacea for advancement. International reports, for example the Education For All Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2005), indicate that at the national level, Kenya has virtually attained gender parity in enrolment at both the primary and secondary education levels. However, close scrutiny reveals that serious gender disparities in enrolment exist between regions in favor of males with regard to access, retention, completion, performance and transition. Nevertheless, the boy child is also affected in one way or the other.
Parents have different attitudes towards their sons and daughters. Daughters are brought up for female roles such as child rearing while sons have a whole working life to devote to career building. Parents believe that females do not have qualities of independence, initiative and assertiveness (Mampele, 2005). Siegel (2007) argues that parents react differently whenever things go wrong for boys and girls in school performance.
Higher education and more especially chemistry based is repeatedly positioned by the international community as a central site for facilitating human capacity building that is essential to economic and social development in low-income countries (World Bank, 2005). However, globally, there are concerns about who gains access to higher education more especially to science based courses and whether some socio-economic groups are persistently marginalized (World Bank, 2005). Studies by Lihamba et al. (2006), Rwegelera (2007) and Malekela (2009) argue that, while there has been no deliberate attempt to marginalize female enrolments, the performance of girls at secondary school is poorer than that of boys, because of the pressures resulting from socio-cultural processes such as societal expectations and demand for early marriages. Bookie Kethugisile, et al. (2007) also indicates that socioeconomic and cultural factors which inhibit girl’s access to education in primary and secondary levels effectively cut off their access to tertiary education and limits their human capacity building.
Eshiwani (2006) noted that girls had not been encouraged to enter those academic disciplines that were historically dominated by men since cultural influence is still strong in many parts of Nigeria. Girl’s education is seen as a mere waste of time since girls will leave home and go to another family. Fortunately, science by nature is a human activity that is concerned with the exploration and interpretation of the natural world, so chemistry can be learned both inside and outside the school. The role of parents in providing necessary materials, supporting extra lessons in school, motivating students to study chemistry, and citing environmental problems that chemistry has been able to solve can go a long way in influencing student achievement in chemistry and interest in school. Students should also cooperate with their teachers in order for their efforts to have a positive impact on chemistry subject achievement. This study, therefore, investigated parental literacy gender and cultural beliefs as correlates of secondary schoolgirls and attitudes towards chemistry in Lagos State.
1.2 Statement of problem
Maleche (2008) argues that cultural inhibitions include male prejudice which is the belief that education will make girls discontented and immoral, less willing to engage in the heavy labour. The general attitude shows that education is undesirable for the women because it interferes with her cultural authenticity and to the dismay of men. This attitude therefore does not encourage education for women, let alone aspirations for a better place in society. This in the end may affect the performance of the girls’. Abdulahi (2005) reported cases affecting girls in Maasai land. He noted that some parents do not wish to pay fees for their daughters; instead they would rather have them married. This has forced several of them to run away from home to seek refuge elsewhere. Otunga (2008) argues that the more popular theory advanced for the high dropout rates among girls is that parents still see boys as making greater financial gain upon successful completion of school and that culturally they are entitled to family land as they remain in their birth homes. Additionally, boys are also given preference by parents when it comes to purchasing core textbooks.
1.3 Purpose of the study
This study is aimed at examining parental literacy gender and cultural beliefs as correlates of secondary schoolgirls and attitudes towards chemistry. The study is designed to achieve the following specific objectives:
1.4 Research Question
1.5 Research Hypotheses
1.6 Significance of the study
The results of the study would be significant for a number of reasons:
1.7 Scope of the study
The scope of this study is basically on parental literacy gender and cultural beliefs as correlates of secondary schoolgirls and attitudes towards chemistry. The target groups for the study are the parents and adolescent girls in senior secondary schools. Five schools will be selected among schools in Mainland Local Government Area.
1.8 Operational Definition of key Terms
Chemistry: The scientific study of the structure of substance, how they react when combined and how they behave under different conditions
Parental Literacy: program is a course that can be followed to correct and improve a person’s parenting skills.
Cultural Belief: this refers to integrated patterns of human behaviour that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups.
Genger: is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between and from masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex (i.e. the state of being female)
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