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The Effect of Poverty in the Home and Implication on Student’s Academic Performance (a Case Study Selected Secondary Schools in Ojo Local Government Area in Lagos State)


The study investigated the relationship between poverty in the home on students’ academic performance in Secondary schools in Ojo Local Government Area. The study covered students who sat for secondary schools Examination in the year 2020. The study was based on one general objective and two specific objectives.

The study used an ex-post facto research design, and relied on both primary and secondary sources of data. Data was collected from senior students’ in Ojo Local Government Area using systematic random sampling to select student’s from each school to respond to the questionnaires. The data collected was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The study too used cross tabulation and Chi square tests to establish relationship between household income and students’ academic performance variables. The relationship was tested at 0.005 level of significance.

The study found that not all household income affects students’ academic performance in secondary schools. But some assets more than others have high correlation with academic performance i.e. physical and human capital were highly correlated to high performance than natural and social capital.





  • Background of the Study

Education is an essential enterprise in the development of any given nation. Education furnishes people with the capabilities to make informed choices about their lives and a positive contribution to society. It facilitates the realisation of other rights, provides an exit out of poverty, and reinforces social cohesion and integration (World Bank, 2001).

Investing in the education system in Nigeria has helped the Government meet its obligations and commitments in the international arena by adhering to these protocols such as: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999), and the Millennium Declaration (2000). All these declarations oblige their signatories to realise the right of every child to education. Nigeria for instance domesticated this obligation in the 2001 Children’s Act, and has now made education a constitutional right (Articles 43 and 53 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 2010).

World Bank (2005) indicates that primary education is important in human capital development as it ensures acquisition of knowledge and enabling skills necessary for civic participation and economic success. Globally, investing in primary education is thought to have a direct impact on the effort to realize Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 – Universal Primary Education. According to UNESCO (2005) increasing the provision of and access to secondary education serves as an incentive for primary school children to perform better in national examinations because there is an increased motivation for graduation from primary school when a student has a realistic opportunity to continue with studies in secondary school.

Demand for secondary education is growing rapidly in Africa due to the fact that citizens have recognised the significance of education. Lewin, (2008) attributes this expansion in demand to the recognition that breaking away from low economic growth equilibrium will necessitate African economies to invest heavily in secondary education. Despite this recognition, access to secondary education in Africa is still a challenge to some households due to poor performance at primary level and high cost of secondary schooling coupled with other factors that limit children from enrolling and advancing to secondary school. UNESCO (2011) estimated secondary school Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at 39.6%, against 70% global secondary school GER, with many of those enrolled attending school irregularly and/or failing to complete. Conversely, North America and Western Europe have achieved universal primary and secondary education with GER above 100%. It is incontestable that poor performance and low secondary school enrolment in Africa has negative consequence on the region’s competitiveness and economic growth.

Since independence the Government of Nigeria (G.o.K) has committed itself to improve access, equity and quality in education through various policies and programmes (G.o.K, 2020). The re-introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 increased primary school enrolment rate to over 95% but, in comparison, less than 50% of qualified children continued to secondary school (MoEST, 2005). It is documented that the low transition rate from primary to secondary school was due to high cost of secondary education borne by households (MoEST, 2005). In response, the government introduced free secondary education programme in 2008 to ensure that all children who are academically qualified for secondary education gain access regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. Under this programme, the government meets tuition fees of Kshs. 10,265 per student per year for all children enrolled in public secondary schools while households cover costs of lunch, transport, uniform, and development projects. In addition, households with children in boarding schools are also required to meet boarding expenses (MoE, 2008).

Despite this positive responsibility by government many households cannot raise the basic requirements for a primary school student to perform well in school thus proceeding to the next level. The national fees guidelines for example indicate that school fees in day schools have been reduced by 77% and in boarding schools (district and provincial) by 9.7% (MoE, 2008). As a result, statistics from the Ministry of Education show that more students have been able to enrol in both primary and secondary school. For instance, the transition rate from primary to secondary school increased markedly from 59.6% in 2007 to 64.1% in 2008, further increasing to 66.9% in 2009, 72% in 2010 and 74% in 2020 (NECO, 2020). On the other hand, it’s worrying to note that in 2005 registered candidates for secondary schools was 671,550 and those who did exams in SSCE in 2009 were 337,404 students (NECO, 2020). While it is appreciated that free basic education in Nigeria has improved both in primary and secondary school enrolment nationally, critical statistics based on the above statistics from NECO reveals national level transition dilemma that exist in the country.  For instance, what can explain where the vast majority of 334,146 students who did not transit to secondary school level in 2005 went? What factors hindered these students not to proceed to secondary school? Regional disparity could be a factor because some regions more than others are affected by calamities such as poverty, floods and conflicts which in effect can influence achievement in national examinations. Therefore, it is important to investigate how some factors for instance household assets in such regions affects academic performance in such challenging contexts as in Ojo Local Government Area.

Nigeria, like many other African nations, has adopted an education system that is designed to guarantee all children a minimum of twelve years of basic education, i.e. eight years of primary schooling and four years of secondary education (MoEST, 2001). Nigeria has consistently implemented policies to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of education. Examples of such commissions are the national committee on educational objectives and policies (NCEOP), or the Gachathi report (GoK, 1976), relating education to employment opportunities which pointed out that “The schools as they are today, do not have capability, time, even motivation to teach the values of society. This is because the schools are geared entirely towards    the passing of formal examinations”. One major role of examination in an education system is the selection and placement of candidates in various institutions and stations in society. The report also criticised the National Examination Council (NECO) by observing that ‘examinations have been used to serve the highly selective objectives, structure and content of the formal education system’.  But looking to the 8.4.4 system and specifically NECO objectives, this study can demystify this critic by quoting the first two objectives which are;

  • To rank candidates according to attainment of knowledge, skills and attitudes as specified in the various
  • To use performance as a base for selecting pupils to secondary school and to post primary technical training institutions (Amutabi, 2003).

This study focused on the student’s households background factors, specifically on the effect of wealth on achievement. While household wealth is strongly related to academic performance of children nearly everywhere, the magnitude and patterns of the effect of wealth differs widely.  Little empirical evidence has being published on this achievement gap in Nigeria.  It is therefore necessary to research in-depth on the effect that household wealth in terms of incomes has in determining children’s outcomes in secondary schools examinations. This was one of the objectives of this study carried out in Ojo Local Government Area.


  • Problem Statement

The development of any nation or community depends largely on the quality of education offered. It is generally believed that the basis for any true development must commence with the development of human resources (Akanle, 2007). Hence formal education remains the vehicle for socio-economic development and social mobilization in any society. Poor education outcomes can have detrimental effects on a country’s economic and social development. At the individual level, low learning achievement not only limits one’s progression further in school but also negatively affects an individual’s future income and productivity (Hanushek and Pace, 1995). Nevertheless, the recognition of the problem of poor learning outcomes has let achievement researchers to search deeply on factors affecting academic performance. In Nigeria for instance, household background has been identified to affect academic performance but very little research has been done to dissect specifically what in the household background affects performance in an examination.

This study sought to investigate the relationship between household income and students’ academic performance in Secondary schools (SSCE) because this relationship has not been investigated. This study therefore, sought to fill this gap by empirically investigating and documenting findings on the effect of household income on student academic achievement in (NECO. The study also determines whether there is any link between achievement and affluence in general.

Another gap is that most programs undertaken to improve educational efficiency in emerging countries focus on changing the educational system itself (Harbison and Hanushek, 1993). This has also been true in Nigeria where policy planners generally recommend revising the curriculum, increasing the number of schools, and distributing educational materials more widely and equitably. This course of action overlooks the role of households and personal factors in shaping the academic trajectories of school children. Of particular importance is that some of these non- educational influences may also be the root cause for poor achievement in examination and this is what the study tried to uncover. Ojo Local Government Area in Lagos was chosen for this study.


  • Research Questions

The overall research question for this study is the effect of poverty at home on student academic performance in Secondary schools in Ojo Local Government Area?

Specific questions:

  1. What are the income levels of senior students and how did they influence student’s academic performance in 2020 NECO?
  2. How does household income affect academic performance of a student in 2020 NECO?


  • Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to investigate the effect of household incomes on student academic performance in Secondary schools in Ojo Local Government Area.

Specific research objectives:

  1. To investigate the income levels of senior students and how they influence student’s academic performance in secondary schools
  2. To find out how do household income affect academic performance of a student in NECO


1.5 Hypothesis

Ho1: Household income level has positive effects on students’ academic performance in secondary schools.

Ho2: Physical capital of a household has positive effect to a students’ academic performance in secondary schools.


  • Justification of study

It appears to be a rational argument that; if teachers deliver in class, children should be able to perform regardless of their household economic status.  But this viewpoint is misleading because it ignores how household income characteristics in our society influence achievement of children in primary schools.

In view of the aforementioned and the vital role that examinations play in the lives of students, this study finds it necessary to inquire if poverty in the home has any effect on student achievement in NECO examinations. This gap has existed for nearly a century and policy makers have avoided the obvious implications of this understanding that raising the achievement of for example lower-class children requires that public policy addresses the social and economic conditions of these children’s lives, not just school reforms.




  • Limitations

Due to time constrain, finance and distance, the study was limited to four schools selected randomly using stratified and purposive sampling methods from Ojo Local Government Area.


  • Scope of study

The scope of this work is centered on household incomes in Ojo L.G.A. Lagos state, and four secondary schools in the Area.


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