AN INVESTIGATION INTO EFFECT OF EARLY MARRIAGE AND PREGNANCY AND PREGNANCY ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF FEMALE STUDENTS IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OKENE KOGI STATE)
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Pregnancy at whatever stage in life can be a life changing experience that cuts across boundaries of race, educational attainment and socio-economic status (Kost et al., 2010). Motherhood places demands on one’s life which were hitherto non-existent prior to the birth of the woman. When a girl that should be in school becomes pregnant, her entire life could be completely altered as her hopes and aspirations could be shattered. Teenage parents are parents between the ages of 13 and 19 years (Kost et al., 2010). Maynard (1997), believe that Early pregnancy is a delinquent behavior resulting from stress, dislike, malice, boredom and unhappiness experienced by a teenage girl within her home environment. Other predisposing factors include alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, social and health problems among adolescents and sexual abuses resulting to unwanted sex and pregnancy (Gaby, 2012). Dilworth (2002) observed a relationship between risk behaviours (drinking, smoking and drugs) and likelihood of becoming pregnant among teenagers, while Singh and Daroch (2000) singled out poverty as both the causes and consequences of teen pregnancy and child bearing.
Early marriage before the age of 18 is a violation of a number of international human rights charters and conventions such as 1989 Convention on The Rights of the Child (CRC), 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEFADW), the 1989 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Women. However, for many young girls in developing countries, marriage is perceived as a means of securing their future and protecting them. Girls are forced into marriage by their families while they are still children in the hope that marriage will benefit them both financially and socially. On the contrary, early marriage violates the rights of children with often more negative consequences on the girls than the boys. This 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 more vulnerable to poverty. Young married girls are indeed a unique group, coming under great pressure on a number of fronts. They are required to do a disproportionate amount of domestic 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 her fertility-often within the first year of her marriage at a time when she is not yet physiologically, psychologically and emotionally prepared. Additionally, girls are made to be 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 off-springs. Therefore, early marriage directly compounds the ‘feminization of poverty’ and intergenerational poverty (Saxena, Shobha, 1999). Several studies confirm wide age gaps between younger married girls and their spouses. This age gap clearly creates unequal power relationship between the younger brides and her older and more experienced husband, resulting in husband having total control over sexual relations and decision-making. Since younger brides are socially conditioned not to question the authority of their husbands, they are often unable to use contraception or to plan their families. The combined effect of these factors may also make younger brides more likely to tolerate partner violence. While there is widespread agreement that early marriage, early pregnancy and motherhood adversely affects general development and education of girls and they are the links with poverty and wide consequences on families and communities have not been adequately explored. This is partly due to the ‘invisibility’ of younger married girl in most communities, and the fact that marriage confers adult status to girls and boys (Bruce, 2002). Yet, many societies, primarily in Africa and South Asia, continue to support the idea that girls should marry at or soon after puberty. Their spouses are likely to be a few years older than they are, but may be more than twice their age. Parents and heads of families make marital choices for daughters and sons with little regard for the personal implications. Rather, they look upon marriage as a family-building strategy, an economic arrangement or a way to protect girls from unwelcome sexual advances.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
Despite national laws and international agreements forbidding early marriage, this phenomenon is still widespread in many developing countries with a high prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa, more particularly in Nigeria. This paper intends to analyze that issue by emphasizing on this region of Africa (Nigeria) using Uzo-uwani as a paradigm. According to UNICEF Early marriage contributes to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular. For both girls and boys, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts; cutting off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. In this research work more emphasis is given to girls as this is an issue that impacts upon them in far larger numbers and with more intensity and consequences. Besides, having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole. UNICEF (2000) argues that it is not only girls that pay for early marriage but also the society as a whole. Population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development are just a few of the growing burdens that society shoulders because of teenage pregnancies. Early marriage also undermines international efforts to fight against poverty in developing countries. Bunch (2005), makes it clear that the widespread practice of child marriage makes it increasingly difficult for families to escape poverty in the developing world, thereby undermining critical international efforts to fight poverty, HIV/AIDS and other development challenges, and making billions of dollars in development assistance less effective. Among the problems of early marriage in Nigeria is Vesico-Virginal Fistulae (VVF) which remains a serious reproductive health problem for women of childbearing age in the developing world. It is one of the most appealing misfortunes that a woman can face as a result of early pregnancy and childbirth. High maternal mortality and morbidity is another problem posed by early marriage. The world health organization estimates that the risk of death following pregnancy is twice as great for women between 15 and 19 years than for those between the ages of 20 and 24. The maternal mortality rate can be up to five times higher for girls aged between 10 and 14 than for women of about twenty years of age .This study should then seek to find answer to the following questions on developmental implications of early marriage in Nigeria.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the effect of early marriage and pregnancy on academic performance of females in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study are;
- To identify the reasons behind early marriage perpetuation and pregnancies in Nigeria.
- To identify how it affect girls’ wellbeing and personality and how it constitutes a violation of their human rights in Nigeria.
- To investigate the consequences and developmental implications of early marriage and pregnancies in Nigeria.
- To recommend ways of ameliorating the developmental implications of early marriages and pregnancies.
- What are the reasons behind early marriage perpetuation and pregnancies of female students in Nigeria?
- Do early marriage and pregnancy affect female students academic performances in Nigeria?
- How does it affect girls’ wellbeing and personality and how does it constitute a violation of their human rights in Nigeria?
- What are the consequences and developmental implications of early marriage and pregnancies of female students in Nigeria?
- What are the ways of ameliorating the developmental implications of early marriages and pregnancies among female students in Nigeria?
H0: Early marriage and pregnancy does not have an effect on the academic performance of female students in Nigeria.
H1: Early marriage and pregnancy have an effect on the academic performance of female students in Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense benefit to the development of the girl child education in Nigeria as it would reveal the effect of early marriages and pregnancies on the girl child academic achievement. The study would also be of importance to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing a further study on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the effect of early marriage and pregnancy on academic performance of female students in Nigeria using the federal college of education Okene in Kogi state as a case study.
Limitation of the study
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.