EFFECT OF POLYGAMOUS FAMILY ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Background to the Study
The human family has long been besieged by many problems. The problems in question, existed side by side with the human without threatening it with extinction. History relates with the effects of child abuse and neglect, abject poverty, wife battery, absentee husbands, child trafficking, adolescent problems, economic austerity, famine, insecurity, violence, divorce and separation. According to Annie (2000), the recent problem facing the family structure in the contemporary society, is the problem of polygamy and large family size.
Anthropological literature often report that African cultures are greatly polygamous, the term used when one man has more than one wife. Traditionally, it is the woman who chooses a co-wife – someone with who she can cope well, like a younger sister or cousin, and in cases where the husband needs a subsequent wife, the preceding wives get to pick their co-wife or wives (Whyte, 1990).
According to Ekiran (2003), the polygamous family is any type of plural marriage. This could be polygamy, in which a man is married to two or more women at the same time. Care of the major characteristics of polygamous family is large family size. For instance, in a polygamous family, a man has many wives and many children. In most cases, the husband of the house may not be wealthy to take care of all the members of the family. In this case, the educational career of the children suffers a lot of set backs (Uzomah, 2006).
According to Nkemdirim (2005), most children who come from the polygamous homes hardly perform well in their academic work. He opined that children from the monogamous homes perform better than their counterparts who come from the polygamous families.
Adeogun (2000) is of the opinion that children do well in school when they are supported by their parents, and on the other hand, do not perform well if their parents fail to support their educational career. In a polygamous family where the size of the family is quite large, the man who is the bread-winner, may not be able to pay the school fees of the children, purchase their educational materials such as books, school uniforms, pocket money and other items necessary for the children’s success in school. When a student lacks the opportunity of being provided for and supported to succeed in his or her education, the child may not have high educational achievement (Ayo, 2002). Parents who have many children as a result of polygamy, oftentimes, fail to cater for all the children by giving them equal and unbiased treatment. According to Uzodike (2000), parents who are polygamists, are noted for giving unequal treatment to their children/wards. In many polygamous homes, parents are selective in the education of their children/wards. For instance, they do not allow all children to go to school, due to the fact that they (parents), do not have the to sponsor all their children’s education. Rather, they send some of their children to school, while some of them are forced to learn one trade or the other because, the meagre resources of the family will not be able to support all the children through school.
In most cases, Adekoya (1990) stated that parents who belong to the polygamous homes are not educated and so, do not know the importance of education to the children. For the fact that they are not educated, coupled with their positions as poor individuals, find it difficult to train their children to school. Some of them learnt one trade or the other, prefer their children to toe their lines of trades or businesses, instead of wasting time going through the rigours of education and learning.
In a study carried out by Onyeji (2001) most polygamous homes do not support the education of their children, because the children are too many to be educated. In another development, children from monogamous homes tend to be more educated than their counterparts in the polygamous homes. Reason is that children are few in the monogamous homes, and this helps parents to sponsor them through school because they can afford to pay their school fees and other payments in the school. This situation has caused children who are in monogamous homes to have more academic achievement than those in polygamous homes who are greater in number.
The effect of a large family on academic achievement of a child cannot be overemphasised. According to Munonye (1999) the size of a family may affect the academic performance of the child directly or indirectly. In a study conducted by Musgrave (1996) the researcher asserted that intelligent parents show their intelligence by limiting the size of their families. He opined that in a small family, the child is in close touch with his or her parents, and uses more grown up language and ideas than he or she would have done if it were in a cloud of siblings, especially in a polygamous home.
Oloko (1999) revealed that some pupils from large families, have little or no time to read or even to do their home works. They work till late in the might and the following day, they sleep in the classroom while the lessons are going on. Often, this has negative effect on academic performance. Ola (1990) discovered the same effect of hawking on some Lagos State primary school children who hawk during traffic hold ups. She concluded that the large family size due to polygamous structure, has forced them to look elsewhere to find other means of getting money to feed the family. They neither have time to take siesta nor have time to study in the evening. Thus, they perform poorly academically.
As Gallapher (1999) puts, in a family that is relatively large, especially in the polygamous ones, no one child is focused up and so, the parents especially the father cannot afford to offer them all, adequate and equal amount of assistance both in their studies and parental cares needed by the child.
Muntreal (1991), agreed that children from small size family, perform better than those from large size family. Fraser (1993), also supported the argument that children of large families, have limited opportunities, verbal symbols, hence, they are at disadvantage not only in terms of verbal fluency and vocabulary, but also in the process which depend so largely on the acquisition of these verbal symbols.
In a related study, Nimkoff (2000) stated that large families or polygamous marriages tend to lower the educational achievement of “more capital members of the family” and thereby lowering their economic incentive than children from small families in some cases, monogamous marriages. Large families, according to Adamson (2004) restricts choice of opportunity because decisions are supposed to be made on the basis of what is best for the family, and not for the individual.
It is against this background that this study, an examination of polygamous and family size as determinants of students’ academic performance was carried out.
Statement of the Problem
The problems that are inherent in polygamous as a type of family system cannot be over-emphasised. This is because, the polygamous family structure is usually characterised with large family size comprising mostly of children and wives. Also, the resultant effect of large family size is as a result of polygamy, especially on the academic performance of students which cannot be overemphasised. What this means is that, in most cases, large family size does not augur well with high academic achievement of children. According to Musgrave (1994), the size of the family may affect the academic performance of the child either positively or negatively. In a polygamous family where the size of the family is quite large, the man who is the bread-winner, may not be able to pay the school fees of the children, purchase their educational materials such as books, school uniforms, pocket money and other items necessary for the children’s success in school. When a student lacks the opportunity of being provided for and supported to succeed in his or her education, the child may not have high educational achievement (Ayo, 2002). Parents who have many children as a result of polygamy, oftentimes, fail to cater for all the children by giving them equal and unbiased treatment
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