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1.1 Background of Study
Scholarships are award of financial aid to enable students in their academic pursuit and/or further their education. Scholarships are awarded based on various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or funder of the award. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid as it is not loan.
However, since 1980s, the use of financial need as the basis for awarding scholarships by the state has been eroding. But in the developed world, the award of scholarships by the state has been on the increase. In the developed world, between 1982 and 2000 spending on need-based scholarships for undergraduates by the states increased to 7.4 percent annually, while spending on merit programs increased at a 13.6 percent annual rate. The proportion of state grants awarded based on merit has risen from 9 percent to 22 percent during this period (Heller, 2002; National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs, 2001).
Irrespective of this, students both at the private and public tertiary institutions face varieties of hikes in their tuition and other fees in schools with little or no consideration of parental income, students’ socio-economic status, and other factors that may limit students from continuing their education. Some education analysts and students interviewed believed that the government and/or the proprietors of tertiary schools and the school authorities never wanted the poor to go to school so that the socio-economic class-margin will continue to widen the more. No wonder the incessant hikes in both the tuition and other fees in tertiary institutions in Anambra State.
Consequently, as the tuition fees of these tertiary institutions continue to rise without adequate consideration of the poor students that engages in menial jobs such as: “okada”, “keke-na-pepe”, bus conducting, and so on to pay up their tuition in order to gain formal education. The number of dropouts has continued to increase with most of the dropouts engaging in social evil such as; cultism, armed robbery, fraud stars, kidnapping, touts, and other illegal means livelihood, since the labour market is very competitive and there are no jobs for them. Some graduates go as far as taking up gatemen jobs, security jobs in residential homes, and also employed as car washers in garages.
As a result of this, an alternative to hikes in tuition fees which is the award of financial aid for students to further their education is looked at by this study. These financial aids for students (scholarships) are to be awarded based on various criteria, which includes; athletic scholarship, merit-based, need-based, student-specific, career-specific, and College-specific scholarships, among others.
However, in Anambra State, very few people study on scholarships both from the government, individuals, churches, and non-governmental organisations. Although, remarkable scholarship awarding foundations have contributed immensely in alleviating the sufferings of the peoples of low-income status, it needs to do more. Ikeoha (2013) posits that their 2011-2012 award scheme, granted bursary awards to 282 students in Anambra state. Other scholarship evidenced in Anambra is the federal scholarship board award. Although, this is highly politicised, it has gone a long way to alleviating the plight of the awardees. There are also evidences of scholarships awarded to students by Anambra State government as at the time of this research. The State scholarship board is also doing its best in terms of scholarship award in the State. Hence, this study examines the impact of these financial aids granted to students (scholarships) on the academic performance of students, using tertiary institutions in Anambra State, Nigeria as a case study. Noteworthy here is that in this study, scholarships are seen from the aspect of part or full tuition fees, bursary award to students, and any form of financial grants to students in higher learning in Anambra state.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The Nigerian labour force and Anambra State in particular have continued to establish high qualification standards for employees, ranging from Ordinary National Diploma (OND) to National Certificate of Education (NCE), Higher National Diploma (HND), First Degree certificate (B.Sc., B.Ed., B.A), Master’s Degree certificate (M.Sc., M.Ed., M.A), and now to Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) certificates. This has made jobs to be more competitive with applicants not meeting certain criteria, including those who possess Masters Degrees (M.Sc., M.Ed., M.A) are not hired for certain positions. This has led to the increased quest for higher educational qualification to meet up with the standard. However, lack of finance and poor economic climate has resulted in magnitude number of dropouts in schools thereby, limiting the application pool for many careers obtainable through education. However, as the pool of dropouts expands, a time will reach when employment will be limited because, the labour force will tend to require increased literacy, technology skills, and the ability to be a lifelong learner (Woods, 1995).
Consequently, as the tuition fees of these tertiary institutions continue to rise without adequate consideration of the indigent students including those that engage in menial jobs and so on, to pay up their tuition in order to gain formal education. The number of dropouts has continued to increase with most of the dropouts becoming cultists, armed robbers, fraud stars, kidnappers, touts, and other illegal means of earning livelihood, since the labour market is very competitive and there are no jobs for them. Some, due to frustration, resort to drinking of “kaikai” (ethanol), smoking of Indian hemp, marijuana, and so on, some of them even go insane along the line. These are potential Nigerian and Enugu state futures leaders, who if they had the opportunity, would have contributed their quota in the national and State development. Some graduates go as far as taking up gatemen jobs, security jobs in residential homes, and some are also employed as car washers in garages while others go to apprentice and businesses, which collapse after some years as a result of their inability to manage the business due to lack of and/or half-education to broaden their horizon.
Therefore, in Nigeria and Anambra State in particular, policymakers have frequently focused attention on increasing school inputs or improving teacher attendance, on the assumption that students are motivated to take advantage of these improvements. But scholarships in Anambra State are not given serious attention. This is because, the impact which scholarships can offer both on students’ academic performance and on the economy as a whole is being neglected. Thus, it is pertinent to note here that scholarships may offer an alternative to increased participation in education, thereby leading to more educated people who may in turn have healthier children, increased literacy, increased technological skills, and higher incomes. Moreover, the assumption that students are inherently motivated to pursue education through scholarships and the effect that educational opportunities can have on peoples’ learning in Anambra State, are relatively unexplored. Hence, it is on this footing that this study examines the impact of scholarships on students’ academic achievement using tertiary institutions in Anambra State, Nigeria as a case study.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective of this research work is to study the implication of scholarship award on academic achievement of students in Anambra state. However, the following specific objectives were formulated;
1. To analyse if access to scholarships increases the academic performance of students in higher institutions in Anambra State
2. To investigate the impact of scholarships on students with low soci-economic status as against students with high socio-economic status
3. To investigate whether the impact of scholarships on the students’ academic achievement is positive or negative
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formed from the objectives of the study;
1. Does access to scholarships increases the academic performance of students in higher institutions in Anambra State?
2. What is the impact of scholarships on students with low socio-economic status as against students with high socio-economic status?
3. Is the impact of scholarships on the students’ academic achievement positive or negative?
1.5 Significance of Study
The overall aim of the research is to analyse the implication of scholarships on academic achievement of students in Anambra state. The results will also be submitted for presentation at conferences and publication in peer reviewed journals on university education and scholarship incentives.
Also, this work would add to the existing body of literature on scholarships, educational grants and aids and their role in enhancing students’ academic achievement and performance among university students and students of other tertiary institutions as well, and serve as a reference point to other researchers who would consider this subject matter in future.
1.6 Scope of Study
This study focuses on the implication of scholarships on academic achievement of students in Anambra state. It covers areas such as theoretical framework on scholarships, students’ academic performance, challenges assessing scholarships, etc. The study is limited to tertiary institutions in Anambra State.
1.7 Limitations to Study
The study faced some challenges, however, the major constraints of the study include:
• Time: The researcher did not have enough time to carry out this study coupled with other academic activities. There was constraint of time in going to places where data and information relevant to the study could be obtained.
• Finance: A lot of money is required in data collection, analysis and interpretation. The researcher is constrained financially. Owing to this constraint, the researcher had to select tertiary institutions in Anambra State.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Scholarship: A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further their education. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid.
Academic Achievement: Academic achievement or (academic) performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals. Cumulative GPA and completion of educational degrees such as High School and bachelor's degrees represent academic achievement.
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