Background of the Study

In many developing countries, education has been considered to be the cornerstone of economic growth and development. The Nigeria government believes that to survive in the competitive world economy, quality of education is the key variable. In this belief, educational reforms have put in place directions towards improving the quality of education.

These reforms in Nigeria are demanding greater student’s academic performance and commitment from teachers. This is because of the belief that parental socio-economic status of the students might be responsible for the academic achievement of students in secondary schools.

The poor performance of students in secondary school pose a persistent challenge to educators and researchers who have tried to identify the factors that might be responsible for the poor results. Many reasons have been given such as, lack of qualified and dedicated teachers, lack of instructional materials; some attributed it to teachers methodology, lack of ability of students to manipulate the English language.

The performances of students in the senior secondary certificate examination for seven years (2004-2010) in economics are shown below:

Table 1: Students Performance In The Senior School Certificate Examination May/June 2004-2010 In Economics

    Year      %credit Total number     %failed Total number


2004 37.59 366037 22.26 216736
2005 36.24 365142 20.26 206654
2006 49.44 537677 15.71 171145
2007 39.23 461903 22.89 2701586
2008 44.22 592939 16.73 201586
2009 45.44 577545 12.43 157125
2010 56.22 690945 13.36 169377


Source: statistic office WAEC Ekiti 2012.

As shown in the table there was persistent failure in economics between 2004 and 2009. The highest percentage was 45.44% in 2009 and it was less than half of those registered for the subject. The highest percentage recorded was 56.22% passed at credit level in 2010. This implies that slightly above 50% of the candidates were qualified for admission into university and other allied tertiary institutions to study economics courses. This has serious implication for a developing nation that is aspiring for economic growth and development. It is therefore necessary to investigate whether parental socio-economic status can predict the students’ academic performance in economics. There are differences in socio-economic background and different entry behaviors of students in our schools especially with the exit of such as how people earn their income and make choices between alternatives to satisfy their wants. Since economics is concerned with human behaviors, it is a social science and like any science subject, the procedure adopted in economics is analytical and systematical, the validity of its various theories can be tested.

Economics is one of the elective subjects studied at the senior secondary school (sss) level as stipulated in the national policy on education (2004). Yusuf (2005) identified the relevant topics essential for the achievement of the set objectives, the structuring of the content was also based on the spiral spread thus making it possible for a concept to be learnt in its basic form in year (1) to its complex nature in year (3). An innovation in the programme is the introduction elementary mathematics and statistical tools of analysis for this level.

Obemeata (2000) explained the importance of economics education to any nation. According to him, economics enables both leaders and citizen to understand basic economics concept, principles as well as understand, appreciate and seek to improve the economic situation for their own social good. The understanding of economics is pre-requisite for good citizenship. To him, the principal objective for teaching economics in schools is “to provide economics understanding necessary for responsible citizenship”. Being a responsible citizen involves the ability to take rational decision in important economic issues with good basis for doing so. In the light of all these, the poor performance of economics students in external examination in Nigeria particularly in Ekiti-state is of boarding house system in many public secondary schools in Nigeria, the socio-economic background affect the students performance in economics(Nelson 2001).

According to Eitzen(2003) socio-economic status is a function of parental education, occupation and income. It has been argued that parents who have formal education see the need monitoring of their children in school. Literate parents struggle to provide educationally rich and stimulating home for their children.

Statement Of Research Problem

It is obvious that there is a significant relationship between socio-economic background of the parents and academic performance of the students. Daramola (2000) remarked that adolescent from high socio-economic background have advantages over adolescents from low socio-economic class. In a higher class family the basic facilities and opportunities that facilitate academic achievement are provided for the adolescent such as television, radio, computer etc.

On the other hand, the adolescents from low socio-economic class is handicapped as these facilities which enhance his performance in school are lacking. Invariably, the situation contributes to the widening stratification and inequality in the society including Nigeria. This is a counter to the yearning and the dream of Nigeria for an equalitarian society. The issue if not checked is capable of breeding anti-social behaviours like truancy, running away from school, pilfering, stealing, low national man power etc by the less opportune adolescents. It could also create inferiority complex and warped personality among such students. Therefore effect of socio-economic background calls for urgent attention to be carefully addressed hence the need for the researchers to investigate parental socio-economic status as predictors of academic performance of students in economics and how parental educational attainment, occupation, income and gender of individual student impinge on the academic achievement of the students and also to identify the root causes and proffer solutions.

Research Questions

The study sought to find answers to the following questions.

  • Does the parental educational attainment affect the academic performance in economics?
  • Can the parents occupational background affects the student’s academic achievement in economics? Is there any significant difference in the mean scores between socio-economic status and students’ academic performance due to gender?
  • Is there any relationship between parental socio-economic status and academic performance of students?

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Updated: 17th August 2017 — 10:38 am

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