This study was carried out to determine the influence of
parents’ socio-economic status on the students’ performance in Igbo language in
secondary schools in both Ụzọ-Ụwanị and Nsụkka Local Government Area
of Enugu State. This study was designed to find out the educational level of
the parents, the socio-economic status of the parents, the influence of
educational level of the parents and the influence of socio-economic status of
parents on the students learning Igbo language. Four research questions were generated
while two null hypotheses were formulated to guide the researcher.
A total number of 660 respondents were involved in supplying data needed for
the study. The data were obtained through a structured questionnaire of forty
items. The data were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and t-test. Based
on the research findings, it was discovered that socio-economic status of the
parents influenced the students’ performance negatively in Igbo language.
Moreso, it was established that most parents have low educational level and low
socio-economic level which in effect influenced students’ consciousness and
willingliness in learning the Igbo language. The researcher therefore,
recommended that parents, teachers of Igbo language and the school guidance councilors
should as a matter of responsibility help in sensitizing the students in
learning the Igbo language. This would go a long way in creating positive
attitude among the students towards the study of Igbo language in the schools.
Background of the Study
Language is man’s greatest asset and it is very fundamental to
his self-fulfillment. It is the vehicle through which ideas, feelings,
thoughts, information, skills, knowledge and culture are transmitted. This
makes communication, interaction and learning very possible among people.
Language plays an important role in teaching and learning. It is man’s
exclusive means of communication using signs and symbols to express emotions
and wills. Ali (2000) defines language as “… a means of communication of ideas,
facts, figures and thoughts. Consequently, it plays a very vital role in all
aspects of human development”. According to Trager in Mgbodile (1999), language
is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which the member of a total
culture communicate. Also, other linguists like Brooks and Naldman as quoted in
Huxley and Ingram in Azikiwe (1998), view language as a learned systematic,
symbolic, vocal behaviour, and a culturally acquired and exclusive mark of man.
Nwadike (1999) states that without language of its own, a nation becomes merged
and lost in the foreign group whose language it is forced to speak. A nation
identifies itself and ensures its perpetuation. It is man’s greatest asset and
it is very fundamental to his self-fulfillment.
Again, Radford, Akinson, Britain, Caltisen and Spencer in Anozie
(2007) see language as a complex structure represented in the minds of its
speakers. Likewise, Azikiwe (1998) views language as a means of social control,
it is a collection of motor responses, it functions symbolically and so is used
for verbal communication. Ajakobi (1997) states that, one of the notable
functions of language is to record observations, incidents and processes.
Language, he said has also been considered as a product and an integral part of
culture. It reflects the culture of the people concerned and their worldview.
However, with the advent of the English language and white man in Nigeria, the
acquisition of the whiteman’s language and culture, and the interaction with
other people from other tribes in Nigeria, the Igbo man has been known to
neglect his languages and cultural attire.
Besides, Nwadike (2000) asserts that the greatest problem that
has faced Igbo from all times is the apathy of the Igboman towards the
language. He prefers to express himself more in English than Igbo. His attitude
towards written materials in Igbo is negative. He further frowns at many Igbo
parents who do not speak Igbo language to their children.
Igbo language is the language spoken by the Igbo people, and
ethnic group that lives in the eastern part of Nigeria. Igbo language is
grouped among the “kwa” language of Benue-Congo group of the language family.
It is one of the three major languages recognized in Nigeria (Hausa, Igbo,
Yoruba). Language and culture go together, therefore, any language be it Igbo,
Hausa, Yoruba serves as conveyor belt that propels the culture of the people
who own it. Ameh (1991) said that language in any society is an indispensable
tool for unity and development.
Thus, the federal government of Nigeria realizes the importance
of language and indeed the mother-tongue, and consequently states in Federal
Republic of Nigeria (2004), among other things, that the medium of instruction
in primary school should be the mother-tongue or the language
of the immediate environment. The term mother tongue or mother language is used
for the language that a person learnt at home usually from their parents. It is
the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the
individual at a later age. Mother tongue does not mean that the language is
that of one’s mother. Mother in this context probably originated from the use
of “mother” as origin; as in mother-country or mother-land. In some countries
like Kenya and India, “mother tongue” is used to indicate the language of one’s
ethnic group (ethnic tongue). This is very necessary since language is an
effective medium for people to interact meaningfully as well as potent vehicle
for them to express and transmit their culture. Thus, there is need to start
from the primary schools to learn the cultures of the people who own the
language, and it is believed that teaching these children their language from
this early stage will aid the pupils to acquire the speaker’s competence in the
In some schools in Igbo speaking region, the authorities debare
their students from speaking their mother tongue even up to the tune of paying
fines ranging from five naira to twenty naira. Nwadike (2002) stated that others
do not reckon with Igbo on the false pretence that it lacks certain kinds of
technical vocabulary, either because of its inherent linguistic poverty or
because as it is not used for certain kinds of discourse, its words will not
assume technical significance in those discourses. But during the
Nigeria/Biafra Civil War (1967 – 1970), continued, because Igbo language was
used in technology, some Igbo names were developed such appellations as
Ogbuniigwe, BokeetiOjukwu, Ogbunando, Igbokwe, Agbaraọjọọ, these names are just
like the Japanese technology that introduced names such as – Yamaha, Toyota,
Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Toshiba and Mitsubishi.
Language unites and integrate people, for instance, the people
who are not of the same language group but understand each other’s languages
are tied together as one by the language. According to Bamgbose (1976),
teaching the pupils the Nigerian languages will enable them know as early as
possible the culture of the people who own the language and their good ways of
doing things. This will make them, right from primary schools, respect each
others ideas, values and beliefs. When they know all these, it will make them
behave like brothers and sisters. When they eventually graduate with the spirit
of oneness inculcated in them through language, they will build a society that
would be tied together as one unity in diversity and there will be stability.
In buying and selling also, language does a very good work.
Somebody who understands a language stands a better chance of buying and
selling than those who do not understand such a language. They tend to speak
with one voice, and agree with one heart. For instance, the mono linguistic
approach to Hausa as a common language of the North makes them more united and
stable than their southern counterparts who do not have a unifying language in
transmitting cultural beliefs, norms and values, enhancing buying and selling,
unifying and integrating people, among others, there is the need to constantly
examine the state of language teaching and learning in our schools.
Particularly, the state of the Igbo language study at the Secondary School
level deserves attention. Okoye (1995) explains that at this level language
learning is a conscious activity rather than behaviour acquisition and teaching
the language is more of disorganization rather than acquisition, thus, learning
becomes a tedious process which inspires repulsive attitude.
Furthermore, it is continued in the National Policy on Education
(2004) that a child should be encouraged to learn any of the three major
Nigerian languages such as Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, this is to promote our
culture and for national unity.
The federal government of Nigeria in an effort to promote the
use of indigenous language in Nigeria, made a pronouncement that the business
of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English language, Hausa, Igbo
and Yoruba languages until when adequate arrangements have been made. This was
an effort to get a national language which was very difficult in Nigeria because
of her multi-lingual nature.
Moreso, the document of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979)
places much importance to the study of indigenous language, when it stated
In addition to appreciating the importance of language in the
education process and as a means of preserving the people’s culture, the
government considers it to be in the interest of national unity that each child
should be encouraged to learn one of the three major languages other than his
own mother tongue. In this connection, the government considers the three major
languages in Nigeria to be Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (FRN, 1979).
The potential role of these languages (if studied by the rising
generation) for national unity is undeniable. Infact, there are reasonable
speculations to the effect that if seriously taught in the school system, one
of them will eventually emerge as a national language without government
imposing it on the nation (Abba, 1976).
Nwadike (2002) further elaborates the current trend in Igbo
studies. He said that following the introduction of the 6-3-3-4 education
system in Nigeria, the National Education Research Development Council (NERDC),
for example, has designed much improved syllabuses for Igbo at the primary and
secondary schools levels, and which the WAEC has adopted at Secondary School
In spite of the government’s effort towards encouraging the
learning of the major Nigerian languages, Igbo language being one of them in
schools, studies have indicated a declining trend in the enrolment and
performance of Senior Secondary School students in Igbo language examinations.
Some students who study Igbo language in secondary schools do so under the
instruction of their parents. Even the few that study Igbo language, do not
exhibit any interest in the language. This is believed by both psychologists
and sociologists to have some influence on the student’s learning. Wilkins
(1974) was particular that such social factors influence language learning.
In Nigeria, education has been a major factor associated with
social mobility. And the social class is a sociological (socio-economic)
variable, which is seen to be an important factor in educational achievement.
The educational development of the child can be perceived as an unfolding
process governed merely by maturity and perhaps teacher’s efforts. The
background of the parents is also a strong factor in the child’s reading
readiness. In this parental background of the child, what is considered most is
the educational and socio-economic status of parents which affect the child’s
readiness to learn. Uche (1998) states that family environment is the most
important factor in the child’s language learning. The child whose parents talk
with him a great deal develops better in language than one who grows up in a
family in which he is ignored or told to keep quiet. In addition to providing
the child with language experiences, the family provides the language model
that is the kind of language he is going to imitate. So the parents’
educational level and socio-economic status are important factors that can
influence the child’s performance in Igbo language.
In language learning, it is understood that the best way of
learning a language is by speaking it. This is done when the users of that
language have both the linguistic competence and performance in that language.
In the case of first language or mother tongue learning, it is the acquisition
process that goes on in the family of the child. The child first picks Igbo
language by listening to the model speakers of the language. It is equally seen
that most Igbo homes are not literate and poor that they cannot attend formal
education where Igbo language is being studied. Secondly the economic status of
parents is a sine quo non to the child’s performance in the study of Igbo
language. This is very evident in the sense that most parents do not have
enough to eat let alone procuring Igbo texts for their children. This amounts
to students’ inability to perform creditably well in the language. Even some
families that are financially buoyant do not have such willingliness and
awareness to channel their children’s studies in Igbo language. The reasons
abound that most of the parents do not have good knowledge of Igbo language
owing to the fact that their educational level are very low. Some of them do
not attend formal education; thereby use their core dialectical Igbo version
which is only understood by people within that locality. The few parents that
are literate enough suffer the problem of negligence and inferiority complex in
their children’s study of Igbo language in the school. Due to some flimsy
reasons by the parents, they stop their children from speaking or learning Igbo
language. Some parents and even students feel ashamed to tell their colleague
that they are studying Igbo language in the higher institution. Most parents
feel satisfied with the Igbo language spoken at home, and shun their children
whenever they use the language outside their families. Moreso, they feel elated
to hear their children speaking second language or any other languages that are
not commonly used within their locality.
In spite of this, therefore, the Igbo language study suffers
negligence because of the value attached to the use and study of the second
language in our country. For the fact that some parents want their children to
study professional courses, they emphasize the study of English more than Igbo
because a credit in it is a pre-requisite for admission in any higher
institution. Even among the learners of the Igbo language, they are not motivated
to learn the language. The flavour and will power to study the Igbo language
are in shambles. They also feel bad; that people view them as unintelligent
students who cannot study other better courses.
Igbo language, as a subject, requires its own share of mental
work for proper assimilation and application. And going by the assertion of the
educational psychologists and sociologists, the home environment, as created by
the parents, may have profound influence on a child’s learning. There is a need
for the understanding of the influence of socio-economic status of the parents
on the children’s learning of Igbo language in the secondary school.
From the research work carried out by psychologists and
sociologists, which were based on western countries though, the social class a
child’s parents belong to is a determinant of the child’s performance in
school. The better socially placed the parents are, the better the child’s
performance academically. As Bruner (1993) states, the social and cultural
background affects upbringing (of children) and thereby affects intellectual
The researcher has undertaken to investigate whether or not the
socio-economic status of parents has any influence on the student’s learning of
Igbo language in secondary schools.
In a typical Igbo language classroom environment, it is
observable that students perform differently both in participation and in
achievement. What then is responsible for these variations in student’s process
of learning Igbo language?
The relationship between social class and the child’s learning
ability has been demonstrated by a number of works. Such works have observed,
in conclusion that the higher a person’s social class, the higher would be his
or her level of academic performance and attainment Bruner (1989), Fayuyafan
(1978) Nwachukwu (1997).
Researchers have pointed out earlier that gender is among the
factors that contribute to poor performance in Igbo. Kilosmeir and Wiesman
(1964) compared the performance of boys and girls in divergent and convergent
thinking task. While boys were higher in convergent thinking, girls were seen
in high performance in divergent thinking. This implied that boys are more
likely to be neo-communicative concerning feelings and inter-personal motives which
maybe associated with convergent thinking than their female counterparts. Hutt
(1978) stated that girls use longer sentences and are better in language use
than boys but as they grow into adults, the reverse becomes the case as boys,
due to kind of activities they engage in the process of socialization and
growing up, develop their verbal activities. Offorma (1990) stated that girls
have more flair for language than boys and therefore perform better than their
male counterparts. Azikiwe (1997) opposed the notion saying that education
finally discredit and change the beliefs and that women have no mental ability
and capability for science and technology subjects.
Moreso, Balarabe (1991) and Bodunde (1991) found no sex
difference in motivation, learning and performance. Different scholars have
diverse view on difference in male and female achievement in languages, Igbo
language being one and this made the researcher find out the influence of
gender on the secondary school students’ attitude towards learning Igbo
It is against this background therefore, that the researchers
are trying to find out how the educational level and socio-economic status of
the parents influence students’ performance in Igbo language, in secondary
schools in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Statement of the Problem
It has been observed by the present researcher that students of
Igbo language in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State do not do well
in their learning of Igbo language, contrary to popular expectations since Igbo
language is the first language of these students. Presently, many students
avoid the study of Nigerian languages like Igbo while some others who decide to
study such language perform poorly especially in SSCE result. The problem of
the study therefore is: could the influence of parental socio-economic status
in the students learning of Igbo language in secondary schools be determined?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to determine the influence
of the socio-economic status of the parents on secondary school students’
performance in Igbo language. Specifically, the study is to determine:
educational levels of parents of students learning Igbo language in secondary
schools in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area
economic status of parents of students learning Igbo language in secondary
schools in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
influence of educational levels of parents on the students’ learning of Igbo
influence of socio-economic status of parents on the students’ learning of the
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this study would be useful to
those concerned with the education of the child; like the school
administrators, teacher training colleges, institutions of higher learning,
language teachers (Igbo language), parents, curriculum planners and school
guidance councilors. Below are how each of them would benefit from this study.
The justification of the study stems from the significant role
of the family in the education of the child. The school is an extension of the
family, and the security acquired in the family enables students to cope with
classroom tasks, which include the study of Igbo language. Morrish (1992)
asserts that a parent who shows complete disregard for education, literacy,
importance of social behaviour or any form of social advancement, is bound to
have some adverse effect upon his children’s educational progress.
Some Igbo language teachers do not realize that their students come from
different socio-economic background, each of which exerts its influence on the
child’s learning disposition and hence on his learning of Igbo language.
School administrators would find the results of this research significant in
that it would provide information on the various factors or variables that
influence students’ performance in Igbo language learning.
Teacher training colleges and institutions of higher learning would also
benefit from the results of the study because it would suggest a programme of
workshops, training and re-training of teachers in the use of Nigerian
languages such as Igbo language in teaching and learning of other school
subjects. Also, existing language training facilities may need to be addressed
to accommodate the various aspects of language learning which would enhance the
students’ performance in Igbo language.
Language teachers in general and Igbo language teachers in particular would
find the results of the study useful. These teachers, having realized that
their students come from varying home backgrounds, would then see each child
differently and solve each child’s problem differently as well. This, they
could do by organizing remedial and extra-mural studies in Igbo language for
students who need them.
To the parents, the findings would be valuable, since there is a significant
relationship between parents’ socio-economic status and the student’s learning
of Igbo language, then the school and educational planners can adopt and, or
adapt appropriate innovative measures to bridge the yawning socio-economic gap
of students. This could be done through the parents-teachers Association
Curriculum planners would also find the results of the study
useful in addressing the contents, scope and learning activities and teaching
materials that would enhance positive performance of the students in the
learning of Igbo language in secondary schools.
To the school guidance councillors, the findings would also help
them in guiding and informing the students about the need and areas of
applications of Igbo language learning in their educational careers.
Finally, the findings would further be significant to existing
literature on Igbo language learning. It would add to the new data that exist
on the influence of parents’ socio-economic status on the students learning of
other schools subjects in general. This would be of great value to future
researchers and language educators, particularly in Igbo language.
Scope of the Study
The focus of the study was on the influence of the
socio-economic status of the parents on the students’ performance in Igbo
language in secondary schools in Uzo-Uwani. Therefore, the geographical scope
centres only on the senior secondary school students in both Uzo-Uwani and
Nsukka LGA of Enugu State. While the content scope centres on how the
educational level and socio-economic status of the parents influence students
performance in Igbo language.
The following research questions would guide this study:
are the educational levels of parents of students learning the Igbo language in
secondary schools in Uzo-Uwani and Nsukka Local Government Areas of Enugu
are the economic status of parents on students studying Igbo language in
Secondary Schools in Uzo-Uwani and Nsukka Local Government Areas?
3. What is
the influence of educational level of parents on the students learning of Igbo
4. What is
the influence of socio-economic status of parents on the students’ performance
in Igbo language?
would be no significant difference (P<0.05) between the mean responses of
the male and female Igbo students on the educational levels of parents of
students learning Igbo language.
would be no significant difference (P<0.05) between the mean responses of
the male and female Igbo students on the influence of parent socio-economic
status on the students’ performance.