by Samuel N. Keme
Environmental Health Tutors Department
Federal Training Center for Teachers of Health Sciences
University College Hospital, Ibadan
This study was carried out in Amassoma in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to identify the socio-cultural factors affecting female child educational development. A sample size of one hundred and sixty 150) persons were studied in four (4) communities in Amassoma kingdom. This study was conducted in June, 2007. The methodology was the survey type; questionnaires were distributed to respondents and retrieved for analysis. The results of the data were presented in tables and percentages. The findings that the fundamental causes to female child educational problems were traditional beliefs and attitudes towards the female child including male child preference and involvement of the female child to domestic chores such as fetching of firewood, hawking and exposing her into early marriage.The study finally vouches that there is need for enhanced advocacy and action program targeted at the attitudes and practices in order to sensitize the parents, siblings and the community members on the need to the rights of the female child and her equal treatment. Parents, community leaders and other opinion leaders should also be specifically targeted sensitization and should also be involved in community sensitization and advocacy efforts.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In many cultural set-ups, the female child is treated inferior to the male child (Rosaline and Jane, 1998). Development of the female child is considered wasteful and worthless. Sometimes the female child is used as a means of settling debts owed by the family (Awake Feb. 22, 2006). In rare cases, if a member of a family commits murder, a female child from the murderer’s family is used to replace the decease.
A close examination of the girls’ situation in the family reveals a lot of discrimination in the institution especially in the low income settings. The female child experiences gender inequalities as a result of simply her status of belonging to the female brood. Girls in some traditional societies are denied even the simple right to existence in the mind of their fathers who are the family heads. Some men do not even count girls if asked the number of children born to them. His is a clear indication of preference detrimental to girls in the family. They are therefore undervalued with their brothers who are given the right of existence by their fathers. Women in this type of patriarchal society due to helplessness accept these attitudes, which perennially perpetuate gender discrimination. The female child is not even worthy of the property of her father neither alive or inherit them when he dies. In some families, males are provided or allocated rooms, but the young girl is made to share same room with the mother.
A female child is often betrothed to a proposed husband at the age of seven (7) years before she grew up to maturity. As regards formal education, a female child may not be trained by her father; he may instead prefer to train a nephew. A female child if so wish may be trained by the mother (Hobert and Fronket, 2001). There have been cases of some stern warning given to the wives % by their husbands for given birth to females (Awake, Feb. 8, 2002). Sometimes the wives were made to pay for the cost of delivery of their babies by the midwife and subsequent care. In recent times, some parents did send their female children to their relatives in the urban areas as caregivers who are not given the opportunity to see the four walls of primary school, and later sent back home to become married. In view of these hardships being meted out by parents and the society and subsequent in-human behavior towards the female child, there is need to examine the effects of these factors on the educational development of the female child with particular reference to Amassoma.
1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY AREA
Amassoma is the largest Ijaw speaking community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It is the leading community in Ogboin clan which is made up of Amatolo, Otuan and Amassoma. The people of this clan speak the core Izon language. It had a population (figure of 75,000 people in 1991 national population census. It situates at the harthem part of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. The landmass of the immunity is bounded by rivers where the people derive their livelihood.
As Ijaws, The people are hardworking and engage in fishing and farming. They carry out most of the fishing activities in the nature endowed rivers, creeks, lakes, etc. They are well known in raffia palm tapping for local gin production. Canoe carving is a lucrative economic venture and canoe is the means of transportation on the water ways. The land is quite fertile due to seasonal flooding which gives a better alluvial deposit on the banks of the rivers. Amassoma community is noted on her efforts on sustainable local technology in building wooden vessels powered with petrol and diesel engines in transportation that plies the rivers and creeks. Recently, the community has been linked to the national road network by Governor Alamieyeseigha administration in 2005 and also established the Niger Delta University on the Island.
The Ijaw man marries more than one wife. A man’s wealth and dignity is assessed by the number of wives and children he possess. The size of the family is considered significant because, the wives and children assist the husband to carry out his routine economic activities. In some families, the women take greater responsibility in ensuring the provision of food. She does so by taken active participation in farming and fishing with help from the children. Children are expected to follow their mothers for any farming and fishing activities. This is because most farmlands or fishing ports are quite remote and their assistance makes it easy to ferry the canoe to the desired area. An adult man or woman who is not married is not given due recognition or value by the community. Such person(s) may not be given a share of property by his/her family or the community and even if such person dies the corpse is buried in an area or cemetery for the infants. Marriage is a priority in Amassoma community and ones personality entails whether he/she is married with children.
1.3 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Despite efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations or agencies aimed at improving the life of women folk through international conferences, workshops, seminars and home-based interventions, women in the study area are yet to attain the present day’s realities of life compared to women in other States. In the study area, which is highly populated with women, it is observed that there are very few women that engaged in formal sectors such as politics. In the educational sector, those that the community sees as elites are just teachers with National Certificate of Education (NCE) and Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) as the highest qualifications and these are even very few in numbers. It was just of recent that a few young girls graduated from some tertiary institutions with second class degrees.
In the State ministries and parastatals, their number is quite insignificant. As more boys are enrolled into higher institutions of learning, fewer number of girl child enrolment was observed or registered following available statistics.
Human development is a joint effort of both men and women, but on this regard, the women in this study area are seen as house wives who are seriously involved in fishing and farming, poverty stricken followed by ignorance that is transferred to their offspring, thereby continuous the cycle of poverty. Most young girls are usually seen in the community with pregnancy and married to boys bearing babies they could not afford to maintain. This situation has remained unabated in the community and has hampered rapid socioeconomic development that needs to be adequately investigated and addressed.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY BROAD OBJECTIVES
The broad objectives of this study are to identify the socio-cultural factors affecting female child educational development.
- To identify the culture and tradition of the people in female child educational development.
- To determine the economic status of the people.
- To identify the factors affecting female child educational development.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Is there any correlation between culture and female child education?
Does tradition affect female child educational development?
What is the relationship between economy and female child education?
Does culture affect female child educational development?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study, the socio-cultural factors affecting female child educational development is considered quite significant to the people of Amassoma in particular and Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in general. The reason is that it will go a long way to create awareness to bridge the gap of gender inequality among males and females in our society. Culture generally determines the ways of life of the people and the misconceptions of the people which under value the females will be modified. This study will also create awareness with the ranks of policy makers, women charity organizations, planners charged with the responsibility of gender related programs such as school, employment, vocational skills, etc. in Nigeria. It will also enhance creation of awareness in promoting and protecting the rights of the female child and increase awareness on her needs and potentials like participation in economic and politics of local and national development amongst others. It will likewise expose to the female students the impacts their counterparts are exposed to in this part of the country and to enable them provide a framework to challenge the situation.
In addition, this study will also create concrete awareness on our traditional leaders, opinion leaders, etc. the core of misconceptions and injustice and to the parents the essence of training females along with the female child on education as applicable in other parts of the world.
- DELIMITATION OF STUDY
This study is carried out in Amassoma in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Amassoma community is made up of four (4) major towns. They are: Adomu, Efeke, Ogoni and Okpodu. There are other smaller villages or Ama that forms the four (4) major towns. These are: Efeke-Ama, Ayakoro-Ama, Owei-dei-Ama, Okori Ama, Ogun-Ama, Okohbo-Ama, Adule-Ama, Sadiemo-Ama, Oporo-Ama, Goin-Ama, Ere-Ama, Ogbo-ebiama-Ama, Ibenikiri- Ama, Foro-Ama, Bietebi-Ama, Wa-Ama, Azene-Ama and Efeke II.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS
ADOPTION: An act of a boy or a man keeping a girl illegally in his house without the consent of her parents.
BABY SITTER: Someone who is paid to look after children while their parents are away for a short time.
CHILD MINDER: Someone who is paid to look after young children while the parents are at work.
IKIE-ERE: Wife married under custom and tradition with payment of bride price.
IKIERE-TOBON: Child of a woman with payment of bride price.
This chapter provides theoretical or conceptual literature and also reviews current literature based on the variables on the topic area.
RELEVANT THEORIES OF THE STUDY
A number of Feminist Theories and Epistemologies have been put across in the endeavor to discuss the place and plight of female child and women. They include; feminist, empiricism, feminist standpoint theory, and feminist postmodernism among others (Harnold, 1982).
The selected theories that laid the basis of this study is the feminist postmodernism and transformative that emphasize on gender, economic, cultural, ethnicity and political paradigms. This has been adopted by Guba and Lincoln (1994). Guba views transformative feminist perspective as activities that transform individuals. Thus, the female child in this context is in a community that is embedded by ill-cultural traditions that do not stop to reason or understand any areas related or pertaining to female child for example everything is dictated and imposed on her in the name of “keeping the tradition” (Guba, 2000).
The transformative approach that is lobbied by feminism is considered ideal for this study because it provides a strong basis for mixed method evaluating research as viewed by activist perspective. For this study, it was upheld because it continuous to shape the society, politics, culture, economics, gender and disability. It also shapes those that are the female child, which is the gender issue case that was studied. Educating girls improves their lives and enable them to make more informed choices about the kind of life she wants to lead, which is fundamental to human development. Educating female child empowers her with knowledge that opens an infinite number of doors that would otherwise remain shutting. Current literature based on the variables of the study area.
- 2 INVOLVING FEMALE CHILD IN FISHING AND FARMING ACTIVITIES
The female child is often involved in fishing and farming activities in the study area by the mother in order to complement her efforts for subsistence. Sometimes mothers feel that involving the female child prepares her to face challenges in her husband’s house. According to Oyoko (2006), mothers view the young girls as a prospective wife and are influenced by her desire to make her daughter of practical use to herself as soon as possible. Kainga (2004) opined that, most mothers involves their female children in farming and fishing activities as many married ones could not care for their families. According to Diri (2006), in a seminar paper presented in Ogboin North Local Government on factors affecting female child education, he stated that agricultural activities in the rural areas causes major obstacle to female child school enrolment and attendance and commented that even if children were formally enrolled, they may be pulled out of school to assist farming activities during peak periods of the year agriculture.
- YEITARI-ENE (Heartfelt wife)
In many polygamous families, men are usually loved to a particular wife. Under this circumstance, the husband would prefer to train the children of the wife he loves leaving behind the rest. Diri (2006) condemned the attitude of husbands who carried out such nefarious practices and advised that as children they all have the right to education.
- WAKE KEEP DURING FUNERAL GATHERINGS
Wake keep provides the unique opportunities for interaction between young boys and girls. During this period they leave their homes to the area where they could freely meet. Edward (1990), a paper delivered on Guidance and Counseling in Amassoma frowned at the way and manner young boys and girls spend all their time in wake-keep and stated that it has caused serious set back on educational development due to teenage pregnancy. A seminar paper presented by Ebigberi (2005) in Ogboin North Local Government Area, Amassoma on Juvenile Delinquency, Ebigberi opined that, parents should prevent their children and wards from attending wake-keeps under the pretext of hawking, adding that most children got spoilt as a result.
2.2.3 MISCONCEPTION THAT FEMALES CANNOT BE EDUCATED
The people of the study are obsessed with an old conception that females could hardly become educated. This age long thinking discourages parents to send their female children to school. Fathers instead of enrolling female children in schools would rather prefer to train their nephews. In some cases mothers would take it upon themselves to train their daughters in school.
According to Caipora (1993), in Brazil women were usually considered weak and would not be trained by their parents, she stated that some parents especially blacks prefer to prepare their daughters for marriage. Awake (Jan. 2000) posited that, Africans especially, East, West and Central, had this misconception which has led to low girls enrolment in school. Stalla (1999) in a seminar paper presented on Guidance and Counseling organized by the Post Primary School Board in Bayelsa State also stated that misconception on this regard had ruin the Ijaws communities in an unquantifiable form and advised that parents should treat the female child equally as the male child, contending that women are well-educated in the Western States of the country.
- BOY CHILD PREFERENCE
Boy child preference is a serious matter in the study area. A question usually asked if a woman gives birth, “is it a boy or a girl” and not minding the health status of the mother. Men in this area believe that if a male child is born, they would have an advantage of acquiring more land and houses. Women who happen to bless the family with a baby boy at delivery attracts three (3) times greeting while a baby girl may attract ones or none, meaning that a woman does not contribute to the development of the family. Oyoko (2006) also stated that this issue brings about the genesis of gender inequality. She stated that, in many African countries parents still prefer to send boys to school, seeing little need for education of girls.
- FEMALE CHILD DENIAL OF FATHER’S PROPERTIES
The female child is often times denied of the property of the father whether dead or alive. This ugly situation is still practised in some families in the study area, and most parts of Ijaw kingdom. Females are not usually considered during asset sharing by the family members when eventually the father dies. In some families, money own by the father is shared amongst the male children for educational development, but the girls were not given any due consideration. Some families that have abundance of land, and when plots were sold for educational purpose, the girls were often left out. A typical example of related matter occurred in my compound and the matter was taken to court of law. Hitherto, females are not usually allocated to rooms own by their fathers. Girls were made to share some rooms with their mothers even at teens (Otuorkutu, 2005).
2.2.6 COMPELLING OF DAUGHTERS INTO MARRIAGE
The culture of the people attaches some importance to someone who has an in-law. This could be observed when an individual dies, on the date of burial; the greatness of the person would be demonstrated by the number of canopies mounted at the arena by the in-laws. The colorfulness of the occasion would be marked by the contribution of the in-laws and the number of dignitaries that attend the funeral ceremonies. Some parents would present their daughters to marriage at an early age since they did not have the resources to train them in school. Peter citing Ebigbo (1979, 2000) stated that, forced marriages are common in some parts of the country such as the North, East and Middle Belt. He said that, the choice of the partner is made for a girl by the parents depending on the wealth and prestige of the suitor. According to Peter citing Ugochukwu (1986) that, there were instances where 13 – 14 years old girl was given out in marriage to a man old enough to be her grandfather. According to Alagoa (1999) that, refusal to marry is an offence against the ancestral spirits.
- ENGAGING FEMALES AS HOUSE-HELP
In some rural settings like Amassoma, the female child is grossly engaged in household chores such as: cooking, fetching of water and firewood, washing of clothes, utensils, child minding etc. Some people would not even make an attempt to enroll such house-helps in the school. According to Ebigbo citing Okehinlam (1984), girls were usually used as house-helps. He said the functions of house-help were never defined, and that they varied from child- minding, cooking, house cleaning, laundry, gardening, hawking and attending to several other chores. He also stated that the days of the average house-help starts before 5.00 a.m. and ends sometimes at 1.00 a.m. the following day.
- FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
Female genital mutilation is widely practiced in this part of the country particularly Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Female genital mutilation is marked with colourful celebration. This is usually accomplished during annual festivals like Amassoma fishing and feasting festival. During this period of the year mostly 1st June of the year, girls within the age bracket of 5 – 18 years, even pregnant women are brought before a local surgeon for removal of the clitoris. A child whose mother was not circumcised was termed unclean. Several girls numbering 10 – 15 or even more were often circumcised. On completion of the exercise, they are decorated with red clay and beads on the neck and waist. The celebration last two or more weeks during which the girls and their aids will not be in school. In a paper presented in Darkar (1994) by African Woman Preparatory Conference in Beijing, Fourth Woman’s World Conference by Ms. Sonkeyna that, the health of women and female children was also jeopardized by female genital mutilation. She stated that, “about 2 million girls were subjected to the practice each year in Africa” adding that some girls were deprived from school during the period.
2.2.9 IKIERE-TOBON (CHILD OF A WIFE WHO IS NOT A SLAVE TO THE FAMILY)
This is an old practice but still been upheld by some conservative families in the study area, in this practice, siblings from a woman who is not a slave in the family, that is marriage following the normal way have no recognition by the father’s family. Children from such mothers may be trained by the mothers’ family, but sometimes the boys were trained by the mothers’ family leaving behind the girls (Alagoa, 2000).
- SAGBE (FEMALE CHILD USED AS AN ARTICLE FOR SETTLEMENT OF DEBTS)
Young girls were used to settle heavy debts owed by the family. This was practiced when a member of the family commits murder. Under such situation, a young girl was used to replace the decease in the family. Such a girl could not be redeemed; she would be made to marry any man who may wish to do so in the family. According to Alagoa (2000) such a woman married under the exchange “Sagbe”’ cannot divorce the husband. She could be permitted to choose another man in the family of the husband if the need arise.
- SEXUAL ABUSE OR EXPLOITATION
According to Ebigbo (1979), sexual abuse in Africa is mostly of females. He states that the conditions which surround sexual abuse in Nigeria were based on the socialization, early knowledge about sex in childrearing, obedience to authority, especially to men, and economic need or poverty. Ebigbo stated that, many female children serving in homes serve their masters as they would serve their own fathers. He said that sometimes the men would feel gratified because these house girls fulfill wishes for them which their wives do not do or at least not the same loyalty. Ebigbo further revealed that, some gifts from the men to the girls, and promise of improvement of the economic and well-being readily entice the children. According to him, it as often been reported that the quest for material things also make secondary school girls in the early and middle puberty ready prey for so called sugar daddies, that, even some teachers also entice their pupils with materials, gifts and money. Ebigho further commented that, even during the political days of Nigeria’s Second Republic, scandalous stories were told about the given of a very pretty young girl to a top political leader as a gift from a particular area of Nigeria. Diri (2006), in a seminar paper presented in Ogboin North Local Government, Amassoma, commented that, the issue of young girls going into prostitution was a concern and stated that, students in primary and secondary education were also subjected to sexual pressure especially by teachers and other students, and subsequently not immune to sexual exploitation, citing research findings made by Oloko and Onaboye (1993).
2.2.12 THE SENTIMENT OF TRAINING A DAUGHTER FOR THE BENEFIT OF A PROPOSED HUSBAND
Some men of the study area felt that they did not see any tangible reason to train a female child just to become educated and be married off by a proposed husband. They felt that it was wasteful of financial and material resources to be expended to develop female child education that will benefit the husband. They would rather prefer to train the boys who would, marry, bear children to be named after them. In a seminar paper presented by Omonibo (2001), on female child education in Amassoma, Omonibo noted that the envy of some men to train their daughters to become educated and develop the society was alarming. He advised that parents should endeavor and show commitment to train their females and warned that they should henceforth debunk the sentiment.
- TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Girls often become pregnant at a very young age and abandon their educational carriers. According to Wilson (2000), many African girls particularly the adolescents have been thrown out of school due to teenage pregnancy, early marriage and girls’ greater burden of household labor. He said that some parents could not even support those that have delivered due to poverty and ignorance about the relevance of education.
Polygamy as a factor militating against female child education is crucial in the traditional set-up. Men are usually married to two or more wives. There were cases of men in my community who were married to 13 and 15 wives. The husband of the 15 wives personally told me that he has 35 children. Under such situation he may be compelled to train the children of the wife he loves most and those could be boys of his choice. According to Adeboye (2006) that, the number of wives an individual may have could be influenced by culture, and as he put it may have significant negative impact on the educational development of the siblings particularly the females because of our cultural nature of male child preference.
Females are predisposed to sexual abuse during hawking. Driven by poverty, parents send out their children or house aids to hawk and sell wares ranging from fruits, kerosene and articles of clothing to staple foodstuff, which they carry from house to house. According to Brook (1993), some men lure female hawkers by buying off all their wares and even give them more money, stating that parents were happy to receive money from their daughters and maids, which may in certain instances be vital to the family survival and that these girls quickly become very experienced in such acts, beautifying themselves day by day and looking forward to hawking and abandon their education.
Parents who are not financially buoyant opt to make choice on the aspect of sending their children to school. As Brook (1999) put it, African men are usually confronted with a dilemma when it comes to the issue of who to be trained in school. According to him, some polygamous families may have several children with limited resources or income and that it makes the father to look inward who might be favored.
- ADOPTION (YOUNG GIRLS HIDING IN ADOLESCENT BOYS HOMES)
Young girls often fall victim to adolescent boys who lure them to live in their homes. They commit such act and fall in love with the girl and this lead to pregnancy. Such girls are usually abandoned by their boyfriends who are not employed or skilled. The writer has on many instances experienced such cases settled in police station.
This chapter focuses on the method the writer employed in collecting data from the population and the instrument so far used. It also highlights the sampling design, reliability and validity of the instrument, data processing, analyzing and method of interpretation.
- RESEARCH DESIGN
The method of data collection includes the following: Primary and Secondary sources of data.
QUESTIONNAIRE: A total sum of one hundred and sixty (160) questionnaires was administered to the sample population which were both men and women. The administration of questionnaires were carried out on market days. This was due to the fact the people’s occupation is fishing and farming. The writer personally administered the questionnaires to the respondents and guided them for filling. All the one hundred and sixty (160) questionnaires administered, were retrieved without blemish.
The writer observed cases of children who followed their parents to farm in the morning hours of working days during the administration of questionnaires. Some children were also found on canoes fishing on the river.
The writer is a native of the community where this study was carried out. Interviews were conducted with chiefs and opinion leaders on the socio-cultural factors affecting female child educational development. Children in different villages were also interviewed individually and on group basis. Similarly, interviews were also made with some teachers and headmasters about school attendance of female scholars and students.
3.2 STUDY SAMPLE
Amassoma community is made up of four (4) major towns. These are: Alomu, Ogoni, Okpodu and Efeke. These are smaller settlements (Ama) that make up the major towns. These are:
- Efeke 1
3.3 SAMPLE SELECTION
In sample selection, the writer selected two (2) villages (Ama) from each of the four (4) major communities randomly. These are: Bietebi-Ama and Goin-Ama from Alomu community, Okori-Ama and Oweidei-Ama from Okpodu community. Adule-Ama and Ogoni-Ama from Ogoni community and finally Efeke 1 and Azene from Efeke community making eight (8) villages. In order to have an adequate research sample siz, four (4) villages were further randomly selected.
These villages had the following population figures in 1991 National Population Census:
3.4 SAMPLE SIZE DETERMINATION
3.5 RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY
The questionnaires were personally administered by the writer on the respondents. The questionnaire construction was quite simple and unbiased and required Yes/No answers from the respondents. They were equally guided to fill especially the illiterate ones and were retrieved completely. All the manuscripts were carefully read through by the researcher’s project supervisors.
PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF DATA
This chapter presents data collected for the study and its analysis. The collection was done after retrieving the completed questionnaires by the respondents. The variables were sort according to the specific objectives. Frequency tables were arranged and analyzed in percentages.
- SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS
TABLE 1: AGE – SEX DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENTS
DISTRIBUTION IN YEARS
|38 and above||18||29||22||33||50||33|
Table 1 is a combine Age and Sex distribution table of respondents. Fourteen (14) (23%) were within the age bracket of 21 – 29 years, sixteen (16) (26%) were within the age bracket of 30 – 37 years and finally, eighteen (18) (28%) were between the age group of thirty eight (38 years) and above. With regards to the female respondents, seventeen (17) (17%) were within the age bracket of 12 and 20 years, twenty four (24) (25%) were within the age group of 21 – 29 years, twenty five 25 (26%) were within the age bracket of 30 – 37 years and finally, twenty two (22) (33%) were within the age bracket of thirty eight (38) years and above.
|TABLE 2: MARITAL STATUS
Table 2 indicates that out of one hundred and sixty respondents (160), twenty two (22) (14%) were not married, one hundred (100) (63%) were married and thirty eight (38) (23%) were divorced.
TABLE 3: EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATION OF RESPONDENTS
Table 3 shows that thirty (30) males (48%) had primary education, ten (10) (16%) males had secondary education, two (2) (3%) had tertiary education and finally, twenty (20) (32%) had no form of formal education. As regards the females, thirty five (35) (36%) had primary education, five (5) (5%) had secondary education, none of the females sampled had tertiary education and finally fifty eight (58)(59%) had no form of formal education.
TABLE 4: OCCUPATION OF RESPONDENTS
Table 4 is a combine variety of male and female occupation. Among the male population sampled eight (8) (13%) were civil servants, nine (9) (15%) were business men, twenty three (23) (37%) were farmers, twenty two (22) (35%) were fishermen. For the female population, two (2) (2%) were civil servants, fourteen (14) (14%) were traders, forty seven (47) (48%) were farmers and thirty five (35) (35%) were engaged in fishing.
- SOCIO-CULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
TABLE 5: INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN IN FISHING/FARMING ACTIVITIES
When the respondents were asked whether they involve their children in fishing and farming activities, table 5 shows that one hundred and forty (140) (87%) responded that children were involved, twenty (20) (13%) also responded that children were not involved.
TABLE 6: WHY DO PARENTS INVOLVE THEIR CHILDREN IN FISHING AND FARMING ACTIVITIES?
Table 6 shows that seventy (70) (44%) stated that it would increase productivity, sixty (60%) (37%) state that involving children would make them to learn fishing and farming, twenty (20) (13%) stated that involving children was to make them look after children in the farm land and finally, ten (10) (6%) responded that all the facts given above were correct.
TABLE 7: DO PARENTS INVOLVE THE FEMALE CHILD IN HOUSEHOLD CHORES MORE THAN THE MALES?
Table 7 presents that, forty (40) (25%) strongly agreed to the question, seventy five (75) (47%) only agreed, forty two (42) (26%) disagreed and three (3) (2%) strongly disagreed to the question.
TABLE 8: ON WHAT DAYS DO PARENTS INVOLVE CHILDREN FOR FISHING AND FARMING?
|No specific day||20||13|
|None of the above||7||4|
In response to the question, table 8 shows that eighty five (85) (53%) answered that children were involved on weekends, forty eight (48) (30%) answered that children were involved on holidays only, twenty (20) (13%) stated that there were no specific days children were involved, and finally, seven (7)% (4%) responded that none of the days given were correct.
TABLE 9: DO PARENTS SHARE ASSETS EQUALLY TO MALE AND FEMALE CHILDREN?
Table 9 shows the responses to the question of sharing of assets, twenty (20) (13%) agreed that parents share assets equally between females and males, while one hundred and forty (140) (87%) disagreed that parents did share assets equally between children of opposite sex.
TABLE 10: FEMALES INHERIT FATHERS PROPERTY
The question whether females inherit the properties of their fathers when he dies? Forty one (41) (26%) strongly agreed, ten (10) (6%) agreed, sixty nine (69) (43%) strongly disagreed and forty (40) (25%) disagreed.
TABLE 11: WHY DO FEMALES NOT INHERIT FATHERS’ PROPERTIES?
|May get married||38||23|
|Does not develop family||72||45|
|Females are stronger||2||1|
|None of the above||48||30|
The question, why females are not given any recognition of their fathers property, thirty eight (38) (23%) stated that females may get married, seventy two (72) (45%) were of the view that females does not develop families, two (2) (1%) stated that females were stronger and finally forty eight (48) (30%) disagreed to all the statement given.
TABLE 12: PREFERENCE ON MALE OR FEMALE CHILDREN
|Child to train in school||108||68||52||32||160||100|
A question was asked on the respondents, the child they preferred whether male or female? One hundred and forty two (142) (89%) preferred the male child to the female while eighteen (18) (12%) preferred the female child to the male child.
Another question was also asked, which child would they train under poor financial situation, one hundred and eight (108) (68%) acknowledged that they would train the male child while fifty two (52) (32%) stated that they would train the female child.
TABLE 13: DO PARENTS ATTACH ANY IMPORTANCE TO FEMALE CHILD EARLY MARRIAGE?
Table 13 indicates that ninety two (92) (52%) respondents acknowledged female child early marriage while sixty eight (68) (43%) stated disagreement to female child early marriage.
TABLE 14: WHY DO PARENTS WANT THEIR DAUGHTERS TO MARRY EARLY?
|Lack of finance||75||47|
|Need for in-laws||60||38|
|To make money||15||9|
|None of the above||10||6|
Table 14 indicates that seventy five (47%) of the respondents stated that their daughters were urged to marry early because of lack of finance, sixty (60) (38%) were of the view that they would like them to marry because of the importance of in-laws, fifteen (15) (9%) also stated that parent required their daughters to marry early so as to make money out of it, ten (10 (6%) disagreed to any of the reasons.
TABLE 15: DO PARENTS GIVE THE FEMALE CHILD SEPARATE ROOM TO LIVE?
In response to the question, sixteen (16) (10%) of the respondents stated that the female child was given separate room to live in .the family while one hundred and forty four (144) (90%) disagreed that the female child was not given separate room to live.
TABLE 16: DO MEN ENTICE YOUNG GIRLS WITH MONEY/GOODS?
Table 16 clearly shows the response of the question of young girls’ enticement by men, one hundred and twenty nine (129) (80%) strongly agreed to support, twenty (20) (13%) agreed, seven (7) (4%) disagreed and finally four (4) (3%) strongly disagreed to the question.
DISCUSSION OF FINDING, SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
This chapter mainly focus on discussion of statistical results and analysis of data presented in chapter four (4), including recommendations about the findings.
The demographic data shows that majority of the male respondents were between the age brackets of thirty eight (38) years while that of the females were between twenty one to twenty nine (21 – 29) years. Furthermore, most of the people sampled for the study were married. Out of one hundred and sixty (160) persons, one hundred were married. This buttresses the fact that the culture of the people likes early marriage. As stated by Otuonkuku (2005), refusal to marry in Ijaw culture was considered an offence against the ancestral spirits. It was evident that majority of the females were engaged in farming and fishing as these were their main occupation for livelihood. From the analysis of data it was clearly found that only two (2) females were found to be workers in the formal sector while eight (8) were men. This information support the study carried out by Oyoko (2006) in Kenya that African women were poorly represented in the formal sectors and that their main occupation was farming and fishing.
On the aspect of education, the study found out that most of the women were illiterates. Out of the total sample of ninety eight (98) women, fifty eight (58) were uneducated. This could be attributed to the reason why children were involved in fishing and farming activities during a school periods. According to Ebigbo citing Okeahialam (1984) females were seriously involved in undefined household chores that took them most of the day time. It was also discovered that female street hawkers were prone to enticement by young men that eventually resulted to early marriage or pregnancy.
Another serious issue was the problem of male child preference. The study revealed that parents were more interested in the male child. On the situation of poor financial position of the family, parents acknowledged that they would prefer to train the male child. As noted by Alazigha (2000), Awake (2006), Caipora (1993) that, most fathers preferred the male child to the female. A female child was not often counted if asked about the number of children a father own. Goods were rarely shared equally among the male and female child. The female child was not allocated to separate rooms to live. The study indicated that some females were sometimes made to sleep with their mothers and others slept in neighbourhood houses. The study also revealed that some parents had strong desire for their daughters to marry early for the sake of bearing in-laws and possibly avoiding female child prostitution.
In light of the discussion of findings, majority of the women in the sample population were not literate. Their main occupation was fishing and farming. The female child was often involved to provide assistance to the mother. The parents were interested in early female child marriage to prevent prostitution and to bear in-laws. Male child preference was significant and training of the female child was not given due recognition. Most household chores were assigned to females and the properties of a father were often not shared to the female child. The female child was not provided a separate place or room to lay her head and that predisposed her to sexual advances by men.
Based on the findings of the study, this paper concludes as follows: Results shows that traditional beliefs and cultural practices especially in the study area have profound negative attitude which limit the female child’s capacity for education and self-determination. It is an indisputable fact that without parents and community support, any effort to improve girls’ lot in all spheres of life be it education, health, careers, leadership and change in perception of their roles in particular will be greatly hampered. In the light of the above, it is inferred that socio-cultural practices are the fundamental causes to female child poor educational development in Ogboin North Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
The study in the light of the result presents this recommendation as follows: As popular opinion about gender stereotypes is posed on through the family, school and economic organizations of home and work and through the media, there is need to conduct vigorous advocacy and sensitization programs and activities by women organizations, men and other non-governmental agencies. There is need for positive involvement of men in all intervention projects and proposals that are intended for female child educational development including other female related issues. This would not only contribute to strengthening of the family, but would yield short and long term benefits to the community and would positively impact societal perception and actions while accelerating the gains for the status of women and girl child in particular as well as participation of women in country development and decision making activities.
In order to improve and discourage the emancipation of the female child, there is urgent need for, the community or the local government to improve on sensitization on a number of issues such as:
- The importance of and the advantages to the family, community and local government or the state as a whole of educating the female child.
- That females are equal to the males and require their entitlements as human beings.
- That females have the ability to perform well in schools and for them to do so, they require, among other things, encouragement, motivation and material support from their parents and on the issue of domestic work, involving them in fishing and farming activities. Parents need to be sensitized to be gender sensitive in the matter of allocation of work and male preference. They need to realize that the female child require and are entitled to as much time as the male child to their academic work.
- Home is the place where most exclusive change can take place about the empowerment of the female child. Mothers and fathers including guardians alike need to be made aware that both the female child and the male child are equal and that no preferential treatment should be given to any of them.
- Parents should be made to realize the fact that the right of the child is recognized worldwide and not only the male child.
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