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1.1 Background of the study

Over the years, many educational authorities have developed interest to understand the reasons for the downward trend in educational achievement of children. Obemeata (1971), and Daramola (1994) attributed it to the children’s background which depends on the type of family where they are raised. They stressed that the environmental condition and the nature of social interaction that goes on in the family may have some positive or negative influence on the education of  children. Daramola (1994) further stated that the factors affecting  children’s education  include family  type , psychological conditions in the family, availability of equal opportunities, social climate and level of proper care that exist in families they come from.

 The family as a primary agent of socialization, has   powerful influence on children which could in no doubt enhance or hinder educational achievement of children depending on the social climate in such family. Variance in psycho-social emotional fortification in the polygamy family background could be an indicator to high or low educational performance of children.

Polygamy has been cited as a possible contributor to Africa’s low savings rates, widespread incidence of HIV, high levels of child mortality, and poor educational performance of children (Uwaifo, 2008).  Polygamous marriage is a system of marriage in which a man marries more than one wife at a time. The number of wives which ranges from two to many or may not depend on the religious and economic   capability  of the man. This form of marriage has given rise to what sociologists often refer to as the extended family. This is a common practice in Nigeria the varying structure of any family from society to society has brought this practice (Asikhia, 2010).

In Africa generally, Polygamy remains common in most regions stretching from Senegal to Tanzania, it is common for more than one third of married women to be polygamous (Akanle, 2007). Polygamous marriage is common in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, but is also known to occur in Europe, North America, and other Western societies (Zsolnai, 2002). To our knowledge, accurate and current statistics on the prevalence of polygamy around the world are not available. In Nigeria, Cross River state in particular estimates range from 20% to 50% of all marriages, with higher rates reported among less educated husbands and wives, among Muslims, and among rural residents; however, in recent years, there has been an observed increase in the rates of polygamy among highly educated men who can afford a second wife (Aremu,2000).

The moral decadence of the society today, may be as a result of the inability of polygamous parents to give the children adequate financial support for their education ,some polygamous family may not give their children the educational materials they need due to lack of funds. This may result in poor feeding and general maintenance of the family members. Parents serve a useful purpose in the upbringing of their children in the home, but in polygamous home there is not much in interaction between fathers and their children because of the large number.

The parents may not be able to go through their school work at home consequently, they may not be able to identify, the need of their children who may be left to grow on their own.  In fact, polygamy may affect the up bringing of children educationally, socially and morally. Furthermore, this tendency affects most polygamous home negatively, as equal opportunity is not given to the children in their educational pursuit. Adika (1987) agreed that there is gender inequality in favor of the children. Most girls from polygamous home are withdrawn from school at the tender age and they are given to husband some girls who would have loved to go to school are frustrated by the problems of non-availability of fund in the polygamous home. This leads to the eventual dropout of the girls from school.  

However,  children who have escaped polygamous families have been profoundly impacted in every aspect of their education. Because of the secrecy that conceals polygamous relationships, this information is not open to public knowledge, nor easily obtained, especially outside the inter-mountain west. This area is where polygamy has its historical roots in the United States. Therefore this research will focus on the impact of polygamy on children education in the southern education zone of Cross River State as to provide a general statement regarding the basic principles and attitudes of modern day polygamy and to describe the negative psychological impact the polygamous practice has on children education.

1.2 Theoretical framework

This study will consider the following as bases of its theoretical frame;

1.2.1 Cause and Effect Theory

Cause and effect describes how something happens, analyses why something happens; examines cause, describes effect or do both because it links situations and events together in time, with cause preceding effect (Wilkins, 1976). Furthermore, causality refers to cause-and-effect analysis, it explains why something happened, or is happening and it predicts what probably will happen. Sometimes, many different causes may be responsible for one effect, and similarly, many different effects could be produced by a single cause. In logic, causes are often distinguished in to two types: necessary and sufficient. If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur. If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y, thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x (Wilkins, 1976).

Cause and effect is established through intervention trial in which two or more groups undergo the same experience except for a single facet. The single facet in this study is polygamy. Any difference in outcome is then attributed to that single facet (Omosewo, 2000). Causality (causation) denotes a logical relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the direct consequence of the first. The cause in this study is polygammy while education of children  is the effect. In this study, the researcher focused on assessing family type  on children’s education, the home environment that is tensed due to  unhealthy atmosphere of quarrelling; fighting due to large family size and polygamy cannot favour learning, as the mind of the pupils will not be settled in order to give room for creativity.

Sanders  (1974) maintained that physical and psychological conditions of the home environment affect the children education. Nyarko (2010) stated that harmonious home create emotional stability in the child at home and subsequently throughout his school life. Hence the researcher was also concerned with the parenting  style (democratic, authoritarian, etc) is also influential both in the childrens’ educational process as well as in family-school relations; research such as that by Ajila and Iyiola (2007) demonstrated that a positive family climate favours the development of well-adapted, mature, stable and integrated students, and an unfavourable family climate promotes non-adaptation, immaturity, lack of balance and insecurity.

The influence of family educational climate is defined by the amount and the style of  help that children receive from the family; that is determined by elements of the family context, like the dynamic of communication and affective relationships, attitudes toward values, expectations (Aremu and Sokan, 2003)Along these same lines, Aremu (2000) reported that parental expectations have a notable influence on academic results, even when controlling for initial knowledge and socio-economic context. Stephen and Ceci (2001) found indirect relationships with performance from the student’s perception of how much importance his or her parents assign to study at home.

1.2.2 Behavioral Theory

Behavioral theories of marriage are also rooted in interdependence theory (Sanders  (1974) yet, as Stephen and Ceci (2001) note, behavioral theory differs from the intrapersonal focus of social exchange theory which emphasizes individual perceptions of attractions and alternatives. In contrast, behavioral theory adopts an interpersonal stance which asserts that marital satisfaction is related to the exchange of overt behaviors between partners. The underlying premise is that the exchange of positive, rewarding behaviors enhances marital satisfaction whereas negative, punishing behavioral exchanges decrease  marital satisfaction (Wilkins, 1976). This perspective has focused on behaviors occurring in the context of problem solving, in which distressed couples appear more likely to engage in negative behaviors than non-distressed partners.

Although the link between behavior and satisfaction has received considerable support, there is recognition that variables other than behavior are likely to be associated with marital satisfaction. Edwards (2000) have elaborated on the link between behaviors and satisfaction by considering the attributions partners make regarding overt behaviors. Although these cognitive processes are not thought of as directly associated with marital satisfaction, they are believed to influence interaction behaviors that in turn impact marital quality.

In the theoretical framework proposed by Stephen and Ceci (2001), if the behavior of one’s spouse appears to be low in negativity, unexpectedness, and self-relevance, the individual will produce subsequent behavior in the absence of additional processing. However, perceptions of high negativity, unexpectedness and self-relevance will lead to attributions regarding the specific behavior, examples of which include the intentionality of the behavior and the positive versus negative intent of the individual. These attributions in turn influence subsequent behavior. Both situations are believed to influence and be influenced by short and long-term satisfaction of partners.

1.3 Statement of problem

The practice of polygamy in southern educational  zone of Cross River State has constituted a great hindrance to the formal education of children. Equal opportunity is not given to the children by their parents in their education pursue which results to some children being withdrawn from school. The few ones that are allowed to school are subjected by going from house to house, street to street after school for hawking and other child labour activities. And it exposes the child to accident, rape and street violence, at a later stage. Lack of proper care of students by polygamous parents may lead to poor educational performance. If school materials are not provided for such student their performance may be poor.

Considering the powerful influence of the family on the child and its importance as a primary agent of socialization, there is no doubt that the academic achievement of the child can be enhanced or hindered depending on the social climate in the family. It appears that many people have not yet recognized that their family type has a great impact on their children’s academic achievement. It must first be understood that the basic structure of polygamy is authoritarian and secretive. The men who practice it believe they have the authority to govern and control their wives and children in the family relationship.

1.4 Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study will be to examine the impact of polygamy on children’s education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State. Specifically, the study will consider the following;

(i)                To examine the effect of family  type  on children’s education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

(ii)             To investigate  the effect of  family psychological conditions on children education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

(iii)           To access the effect of  gender/equal opportunities on children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

(iv)           To determine the influence of  family social climate on children  academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

(v)             To evaluate the influence of parental care on children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State

1.5 Research Question

In order for the researcher to achieve the objectives of the study the following research questions will guide the study;

(i)                To what  extent does  family  type  affect children’s education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State?

(ii)             How does  family psychological conditions affect children education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State?

(iii)           To what extent does  gender/ equal opportunities in a family affect children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State?

(iv)           To what extent  does family social climate impact  children  academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State?

(v)             To what extent  does lack of proper care in a family influence children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State?

1.6    Statement  of  hypothesis

The researcher will formulate the following research hypothesis;

H0: There is no significant relationship between family type and children’s education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

H1: There is significant relationship between family type and children’s education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State

H0:  There is no significant relationship between family psychological conditions and children education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

H1: There is significant relationship between family psychological conditions and children education in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

H0:  There is no significant relationship between lack of proper care and children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

H1: There is significant relationship between lack of proper care and children academic performance in Southern educational zone of Cross River State.

1.7 Significance of the study

The findings of this study will be of benefit to educational planners, psychologists, teachers, students, parents and the society at large. To educational planners, the findings will enable them readjust their impression about putting the blame of children’s education on teachers having known that polygamy (family type) could impact education of children. This would enable them overhaul their curriculum to address the issue of control measure for the menace in the school system.

This study will assist teachers to be aware of the nature of factors that could affect  the education of children, how it relates to school performance and evolve possible ways of checking and curbing the impact this may have on children education. Psychologists and counsellors will benefit a great deal from the findings of this study as it will not only enable them identify children experiencing lack of care, poor  social climate and psychological conditions in their families. Psychologists will also be able to identify causes of  children’s poor performance in school and render suitable remedial measure.

The findings will be of help to curriculum planners because it will enable them overhaul their curriculum to accommodate the needs of individuals with unstable psychological conditions. Through this study, stakeholders will discover another possible way of checking and curbing the incessant rate at which pupils/students fail in the Southern Educational Zone of Cross River State. Besides, the parents and Nigerian society at large through these findings will avail themselves of  the various negative  impacts polygamy  has on children education ways of coping with the problem  and the right measures taken to curb this anomaly. Administrators will through the findings and recommendations of this study plan meaningful sensitization programme to cushion effect of polygamy on children education. The government will effectively design policies and programmes which will enhance the welfare of children with poor psychological conditions, lack of proper parental care as well as gender/unequal family opportunities so that parents will be able to nurture their wards properly.

1.8     Assumptions of the Study

          The researcher assumed that:

(i)                Psychological conditions in the family could in family impact children’s education

(ii)             Gender/unequal opportunities in a family affect children’s academic performance.

(iii)           Family social climate influences children’s  education

(iv)           Lack of proper care influence children’s education.

1.9     Scope of the study

The study was carried out in the southern Educational Zone of Cross River State of  Nigeria, therefore any generalization of the findings should be in context of that state or any other geographical area having the same characteristics.  

1.10   Limitations of the study

          The researcher’s conception of the variables may not be comprehensive enough to integrate all other possible views of the definition of these variables. Other facts that exist elsewhere in which the researcher could not have access to are seen as limitation to the work, inadequate material for literature review also limited the study. Another factor worthy of mention was the reluctance or indifference on the part of respondents towards participation in the study.

1.11 Definition of terms

Polygamy: This refers to the custom of having more than one wife at the same time. The circumstance, facts or event that influence, cause or explain something. A persons social class, family status, level of education e.t.c.

Family: Is a  group consisting of one or two parents and their children. A group of people that are related by blood.

Academics:  It is connected with education, especially studying in schools and universities.

Income: Money received over certain period especially as payment for work as interest on investment. Money received from work, business.

Performance: It is an action or achievement, considered in relation to how successful it is. The ability to operate, capable of high effectiveness.

Education: Is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, or research.


Adebayo Komolafe: (2004) functional approach to Adolescent psychology page 13-18, 15-30.

Avonseh O. (1983) The influence of sociological and psychological factors on the Academic performance of secondary school beginners. Journal of Education leadership Vol.1, page 12-17.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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