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1.1 Background to the Study

Over the past decades, the unfortunate reality is that the income gap has widened between Nigerian families. Educational outcomes are one of the key areas influenced by family income. Children from low-income families often start school already behind their peers who come from more affluent families. The incidence, depth, duration and timing of poverty all influence a child’s educational and behavioural attainment, along with community characteristics and social networks, (Osamiro Emmanuel Osagiobare, 2013).

However, both Nigerian and international organizations have shown that the effects of poverty can be reduced using sustainable interventions. Meanwhile, poverty remains a stubborn fact of life even in rich countries. According to Harris (2006) complex web of social relationships such as student experience with peers and other adults in the school and family members exerts a much greater influence on their behaviour. This process starts with student core relationship with parents or primary caregivers in their lives, which form a personality that is either secure and attached or insecure and unattached. Securely attached children may often behave better in school (Bali, Granger, Kivlighan, Mills-Koonce, Willongby&Greeberg, 2008). Once students are in school, the dual factors of socialization and financial status contribute significantly to their academic performance.

The school socialization process typically pressure student to be like their peer or risk social rejection, whereas the quest for high social status drives students to attempt to differentiate themselves in some areas. For example, socio-economic status forms a huge part in this equation. Children raised in poverty rarely choose to behave differently, but are faced daily with overwhelming challenges that affluent children never have to confront and their brains have adapted to suboptimal conditions in ways that undermine good school performance.

One of the social issues facing students in poverty is emotional trauma. The emotional climate can often be very stressful and emotionally depriving. The lack of emotional nurturing can lead to feelings of alienation, inadequacy, depression and anxiety. Aggressive or impulsive behaviour and social withdrawal can also result, which in turn can affect their academic achievement. The overall goal of this study is to provide an insight into the effect of poverty on student academic achievement.

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

Poverty remains a stubborn fact of life. Unfortunately, poverty is very much related to academic achievement in many families in Nigeria. Students who come from impoverished families are more likely to have problems in school than students who come from middle or upper class families (Evans, 2004). This is a tragedy for our nation because Nigeria has very high rates of poverty, and it is very difficult for the impoverished families to escape poverty once they are in it. Poverty involves a complex array of risk factors that adversely affect the students in a multitude of ways (Broadman, 2004).

Children from low-income families often start school already behind their peers who come from more affluent families, it is presumed that students from rich and well to do homes perform better in class because of their punctuality in school, consistent writing of assessment and assignment, attendance which add to their academic achievement, than student from an impoverished home who resumed late due to the financial constraint of their families.

The effect of poverty on academic performance of students in Kaduna state university is an important issue that need serious attention.  The poor academic performance of the impoverished student is as a result of them struggling to fend for themselves and possibly their siblings; some seek for a menial job after their daily lectures in order to pay their tuition fee giving less time and attention to their assignment, and/or class work.

1.3 Research Questions 

The followings are the formulated research questions for this research study:

1. What is the nature of student’s academic performance in Kaduna State University?

2. To what extent can poor performance of student be attributed to poverty in Kaduna state?

3. What are the possible measures required for alleviating poverty among students of Kaduna State University in order to improve their academic performance?

1.4 Research Objectives.

The main objective of this research study is to examine the effect of poverty on students’ academic performance in Kaduna State University. More specifically, the objectives of this research study are:

1. To examine the nature of student’s academic performance in Kaduna State University.

2. To ascertain the extent to which poor performance of students is attributed to poverty.

3. To suggest sustainable measures that will help alleviate poverty among students of Kaduna State University for better academic performance.  

1.5 Significance of the study.

This research study will contribute immensely to the topic area by providing a theoretical base for evaluating the effect of poverty on students’ academic performance in tertiary institutions. Even though various studies have been carried out by other researchers on poverty and academic performance areas, only few had actually tried to relate poverty to academic performance of students.

Hence, this study hopes to provide very viable information to prospective researchers and as well, inspire future research into the area. Academicians, researchers, stakeholders, and students of the Kaduna State University, will benefit from the valuable information obtainable from this research study on completion.

This research study will provide a blue print for poverty alleviation and excellent academic performance.

Stakeholders, government, tertiary institutions managements, and parents will find this research study very useful for decision and policy making, improvement purposes and implementation.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research study will focus on the effect of poverty on students’ academic performance in Kaduna state university. Students at all levels in the university will be included in the study.

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