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STUDENT’S ATTITUDE TO POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND THEIR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN GOVERNMENT IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN URUA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
1.1 Background of the Study
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public officeRobert, (2011).However, elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century Ugwu, (2010). Elections is also a process of selecting people to fill in offices like the legislature, the executive and for regional and local government a certain period of time as enshrined in the constitution of the country e.g Nigeria’s public office holders is a fixed term of four (4) years with an option for second term. The history of elections in Nigerian state has been characterized by threats to statehood based on the manipulation of ethnicity as divisive mechanism for the acquisition of political power by political actors, the fragile nature of political cum democratic institutions is acquainted with poor democratic culture among Nigerian citizen (Omodia and Egwemi, 2011).
Attitude to political participation and performance in Government among secondary school students is of concern to many educationists and researchers. There has been an array of survey research, policy analysis and commentary that attempt to define, understand and document the political engagement of young people (Gooc Million of schools, 2003; Kieter, Jank, Livinus, Demas, 2002; National Commission on Civil Renewal, 1998). These studies have found that among the greatest dangers is that politics is becoming a spectator sport, an activity that relegates citizens to sidelines. Perhaps nowhere is this crisis more dramatic than with our younger generation.
The report, based on focused group discussion with students found that most students believe that politics is not about solving problem, rather, the report found that students saw politics as individualistic, divisive, negative and often counter-productive. These add to the ills of society. In Nigeria, politics activities and transition programmes have been marked with turbulence, uncertainties and violence.
From a general perspective, political behaviour is influenced by several factors. Indeed, Miler (1992) has noted that there is no such thing as a free choice in politics, that people’s preferences are influenced and conditioned by the social and political context in which they live. Besides, their political actions are distinct from their preferences. Invariably, “political behaviour depends upon the interaction between personal preferences and the political context, since institutional incentives and constraints affect the translation of preferences into action”. These factors operate on political behaviour from three dimensions, namely social characteristics, inherent social characteristics and environmental factor.
The first political relevant learning occurs within the family. Most of these learnings are informal. Opinions, beliefs and convictions of parents influence political orientation of the child. For instance, Rudikoff (1972) contended that in a typical traditional African society, model for socio-cultural learning, an extension of the individual personality and in many instances, it is the integrating forces and process found in the individual pattern individual human personality. On the other hand, environmental factors mould and alter individual pattern and life style. The home provides the immediate environment into which the child is born and bred the paragraph work on parental socio-economic background and its influence on students’ academic achievement was originated by the mental health movement and they saw that parental background and other factors influence attitude, academic and emotional development of the child. Political participation is said to be dependent on the socio-economic status of the citizen. Components of the socio-economic status are education, occupation and income (Conway, 1991:62). Studies in the United States, Japan and Western Europe have confirmed that persons of higher socio-economic status are more likely to become highly involved in politics than persons of lower socio-economic status (Almond & Verba, 1963; Milbrath, 1965; Verba and Nie, 1972:132). It would appear that the likely to be more knowledgeable and participate in politics and government than children from poor background.
Many researchers have found that the school environment is another factor that influences political socialization. Thus school as a social environment contributes immensely to political participation among secondary school students. From the environmental/systemic characteristics, beginning with residence, (urban and rural), dwellers are said to differ in their levels of political participation and this is equally true with schools. Schools in urban are generally closer to the centers of government and economic activities in most societies and therefore more exposed to political stimuli than schools in rural areas.
The school has the greatest and the most profound influence on the development of political attitudes of children. In school, there is formal and informal dispensation of political values and attitudes. In the formal sense, the children are taught about political system, government and institutions, and informally they interact with other children and learn a lot of politically related values. Many works show that subject-teachers in schools and political activities in schools contribute to the political socialization and participation among students. Schools with good government teachers tend to have more students performing excellently in Government. Thus, the attitude to political participation and performance in Government among secondary school students is seriously influenced by the school social and environmental factors.
Research findings indicate that there is a relationship between religious beliefs and attitude to political participation and performance in government among secondary school students. Many political values are impacted by the church. The most important values are non-political but politically relevant values which influence the students’ reaction to the political system, is obedience to government, loyalty, honesty, dedication and sincerity. Religious institutions affect and influence the political orientation, beliefs, values, intellect and social growth of the children through their practices, preaching and teachings. Teachers are expected to help students resolve issues and conflicts that arises as a result of one’s religious beliefs.
Research result found that girls in schools generally participate less in politics than boys. From the perspective of attitudinal/inherent social characteristics, it has been determined in virtually all places that women, even the educated ones, participate less in politics than men (Lane, 2009). Similarly, women seem to pay less attention in politics and have lower level of political efficacy than men (Almond & Verba, 2003). The explanation is that this attitude of women to politics is derived from childhood socialization, devotion to household tasks, family care and outright discrimination by men who have negative attitude towards sharing political power with women (Conway, 1991). However, many scholars have agreed that with more education for female children, their political participation will increase.
Findings also indicate that Age affect political participation and performance in school. This is because age correlates with other social achievements of most students, and those achievements confer some social status on the individuals, which is turn, influence their political behaviour. In line with this hypothesis, various findings have revealed that young people in all strata of society are more apathetic about politics than older people (Bone & Ranny 1971:25; Campbell, 1999).
This study therefore sought to determine the influence of attitude to political participation and students’ performance in Government attitude to political participation and performance in government among secondary school students in Uruan Local GovernmentArea of Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem