Causes of pupils truancy in primary schools and its educational implication

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Background to the Study
The attention and the feelings of school heads, classroom teachers, parents/guidance, educational administrators, the governments and National Universities Commission (NUC) have been drawn towards the irregular school attendance coupled with continuous poor academic performance of secondary school students.
A major problem facing primary schools is that of irregular school attendance and continuous poor academic performance of primary school pupils.  In the United States, each state and District of Columbia have enacted compulsory school attendance laws that date from the earliest adoption in Massachusetts in 1852 to the latest in Alaska in 1929.  Students who choose not to attend school regularly are in violation of the law and are, therefore, the focus of many public school systems.
The question now is, is irregular school attendance the violent destruction of academic performance?
Irregular school attendance is regarded by Psychologists and Psychiatrists as a sign of disturbance in students.  The assumption is that assessment should be given to the students by professionals.
Truancy will be viewed from sociological perspectives.  Here it is based on individual response to occurrences in the school or society.
There is no really specific definition of truancy.  Truancy, according to Oxford Dictionary “is the practice of staying away from school without permission.  A child who absents himself from school without good reason is playing truant.  Some writers see truancy as all absentees irrespective of their reasons.
According to Manroe (1998) “the pupil who plays truancy is generally difficult, anxious and highly sensitive person who need to escape from reality.  He also has a low status in class and has difficulties in dealing with other people there.  He wanders away from these difficulties and in at least half the cases drifts into delinquency.
Marklund (2002) “the typical persistent truant is unhappy at home, unpopular at school and unsuccessful in his class work.  He is rarely an articulate critic of contemporary society and its educational values.  He is usually a child failing to cope satisfactory with his difficulties and in need of help”.  Healy (1995) regards truancy as the kindergarten of crime.  Truancy is regarded by psychiatrists as anti-social behavior.
Recently, there was Easter holiday which started from Friday, 22nd and end on Monday, 25th March, 2008 which students are expected to resume the next day which is on Tuesday, 26th March, 2008, but some of the students refuse to resume at that day of resumption (A case study in the University of Benin).  This attitude is seen by some of the students as carry over from primary and secondary schools, as it is peculiar with the secondary schools at the beginning of every new term or some days of resumption after any public holiday.
Truancy in primary schools is not only peculiar to schools in Edo state but also all over Nigeria and outside Nigeria. Truancy is currently top of the government’s list of educational issues to be addressed (“Ken Reid, Swansea Institute of Higher Education, U.K).  Truancy is applicable to difficult situation but here if focus on irregular school attendance and continues poor academic performances.
Statement of Problem
Different pupils have their peculiar problems and should be considered on individual bases and help should be given that suits their particular circumstances.  This has been their overall approach to help late comers, truants and absentees.  Upon this background the researchers intends to find out the causes of truancy among primary school pupils and its educational implications with the view of providing useful suggestion to eradicate the social threats caused by these problems in the system.
Research Questions
To investigate this research study, the following specific questions were raised:

  1. Is there any difference in punctuality between pupils from good home background and those from poor home background?
  2. Does the attitude of teachers towards pupils contribute to truancy in pupils?
  3. Is there any difference in behavior between children in good peer group and those in bad peer-group?
  4. Do pupils from ill-equipped schools play more truancy than those from well equipped schools?

Purpose of Study
The purpose of this research is:

  1. To examine the rate of lateness, truancy and absenteeism in secondary schools.
  2. To investigate the causes of truancy in primary schools.
  3. To investigate the effect of truancy on the academic performance of students.
  4. To find out solutions to control lateness, truancy and absenteeism.

Significance of the Study
The significance of this research are:

  1. To provide solutions which can assist educators, parents, educational support services and the government to improve educational system and reduce the rate of drop out, improve better performance in the primary schools.
  2. To assist parents to make decisions that will be useful to improve the child performance in the school and society.
  3. To assist the pupils by providing solution to their peculiar problem.

This will help to improve the educational achievements of the new generation of our society, especially in Esan South-East Local Government Area of Edo State.
Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The study covers some selected primary schools in Esan South-East Local Government Area of Edo State.
There are assumptions that regular school attendance is the first step to attain higher – intelligence and success in Education.  Truants are always dull in class and outside school and some of them perform poorly in their class test and exams.
This research is based on the following assumptions:

  1. Lack of encouragement from parents causes truancy.
  2. Too much freedom given to the students by their parents causes truancy.
  3. Lack of interest in school activities e.g. labour causes truancy.
  4. Lack of encouragement from teachers and school heads causes truancy.
  5. Lack of god relationship between teachers and pupils causes truancy.
  6. The location of the school if too far from home could cause truancy.
  7. The kind of peer group of the child could cause truancy.
  8. Lack of educational facilities in schools causes truancy.

Limitations of the Study
The following limitation could have implication on the findings.

  1. Financial problem may slower the collection and communication between the researcher and the clientele.
  2. The major limitation to this research is time factor.
  3. The number of questionnaires used.

I hope that these limitations should not have effect on the findings.
Definition of Terms
Clientele:  All the clients of an organization.
Delinquency:  Bad or criminal behavior.
Deviant:  Different from what most people consider to be normal and acceptable.
Neurotic:  Not behaving in a reasonable, calm way, because you are worried about something.
Phobia:  A strong unreasonable fear or hatred of something.

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