This study investigated the influence of broken homes on academic achievement of secondary school students in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. The study was guided by five research questions and two null hypotheses. Ex-post facto research design was adopted for the study. The sample size for the study comprised of 450 secondary school students from broken homes in the study area. Two different instruments were used for this study. The first instrument was in broken Home Questionnaire (BHQ) designed to collect data on students’ family structure (broken or intact) and their academic challenges while the second was students academic performance checklist. The instrument was face validated by experts in the faculty of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Cronbach Alpha method was used to determine the internal consistency of the instrument. The data were analysed using mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions while the hypotheses were tested using t-test. The  major findings of the  study revealed  that secondary school students from broken homes   within Nsukka  Education Zone  face  education challenges like lack of sufficient text books, inability to meet education related financial obligations, poor academic performance and lack of concentration while in school. Also, result showed that secondary school students from broken homes   within Nsukka Education Zone face emotional challenges like emotional stress, despair, inferiority complex, feeling insecure and unhappiness. It was also found that secondary school students from broken homes   within Nsukka Education Zone face social challenges like neglect, prone to sickness due to malnutrition, among others. Result also showed no significant  statistical  difference in the mean  academic achievement scores of secondary school students from broken homes based on gender and  no significant  statistical difference in the mean  academic achievement scores of secondary school students from broken homes based on location. The  researcher recommends, among others, that State  ministry of education should make  arrangement  for  the  provision of special  packages for secondary  school students from broken homes with a view  to improving their attendance in  school. 


Title Page i

Approval Page ii

Certification iii

Dedication iv

Acknowledgements v

Table Of Contents vii


Background of the Study 1

Statement of the Problem. 8

Purpose of the Study 9

Significance of the Study 9

Scope of the Study 10

Research Questions 10

Research Hypotheses. 11 


Conceptual Framework12

Concept of Home. 12 Concept of Broken Home. 13

Concept of Family 13

Concept of Academic achievement. 21

Theoretical Framework 23

Theory of Moral Absolutism. 23

Attachment Theory. 23

Review of Related Empirical Studies. 24

Studies on Students attendance to School and  Academic performance

Studies on Broken Homes and Academic Achievement

Studies on Family and  Academic  Performance

 Summary of Literature Review 33


Research design 35

Area of Study 35

Population of the Study 36

Sample and Sampling Technique 36

Instrument for Data Collection 36

Validation of the Instrument. 37

Reliability of the Instrument. 37

Method of Data Collection. 38

Method of Data Analysis. 38


Summary  of major findings 45


Discussion of Findings47

Conclusion 49

Educational Implications of the Study 50

Recommendations 51

Limitations of the Study 51

Suggestions for further Studies51

Summary of  the Study 52


Appendixes 59



Background of the Study 

The family is the child's first place of contact with the world. The child as a result, acquires initial education and socialization from parents and other significant persons in the family. Agulana (1999) defined a family as the  smallest  unit of the society made  up of people leaving in  the  same house. Agulana  pointed out that the family lays the psychological, moral, and spiritual foundation in the overall development of the child. Alesina and Giuliano (2007) added that the family is one of the most important socio economic institution in the society, but the nature of the links between family members varies dramatically across nationalities. 

Family is broadly defined as any two people who are related to each other through a genetic connection, adoption, marriage, or by mutual agreement (Yara & Tunde-Yara, 2010). According to Bonnie  (2001), family members share emotional and economic bonds. Operationally, a family is the smallest unit of the society that is made up of people  who are related  by blood. 

Structurally, a family is either broken or intact. The child is morally upright and emotionally stable when the caring responsibilities are carried out by both parents. The family is the first socializing agent the child comes in contact with. It has great influence on the child’s physical, mental, and moral development. The family lays the foundation of education before the child goes to school and the personality that the child takes to school is determined by the home. Salami (1998) pointed out that both parents have roles to play in child education. The father is to provide the necessary tools for the educational advancement while the mother is supposed to supplement the father’s efforts in this regard. When the father is absent and the mother is not privileged enough to cater for all the basic needs as well as supervise the academic performance of the child, he or she (the child) will be backward or withdrawn. The same thing occurs when the mother is absent and the father is not privileged enough (Ortese, 1998). A child  receives better attention when both parents are constitute  a home.

According to Hornby (2000), a home as the house, flat/apartment that an individual lives in especially with his or her family. The home is essential in the upbringing of a child as the first environment of a family, whether it is a happy one or not. The home, which is the traditional nuclear family–mother, father and children, is the smallest unit and microcosm of the larger society. Operationally,  a home  is an apartment  whose occupants are made of  husband and wife as well as their  children. When either of  the  parents is  permanently absent on account  of  irreconcilable disagreement, the  home is  said to  be broken

A broken home is one that is not structurally intact, as a result of divorce, separation, death of one parent and illegitimacy (Akomolafe and Olorunfemi-Olabisi, 2011). Operationally, a  broken home  is  that in which the  husband  and  the  wife  are  no longer living together as a  result  of irreconcilable disagreement. 

Life in broken homes can be stressful for both the students and their parents. Most people from broken homes suffer from emotional problems such as depression, negative self-concept and aggression. Students from broken homes suffer from lack of concentration resulting to poor academic achievement and maladaptive behaviour such as truancy, lateness to school, examination malpractice and drug abuse (Ikechukwu-Ilomuanya 2010). When families break, it is the children that suffer.  Children are important assets to the society. Every child is unique. Children are at the centre of whole process of education and the all round development of the personality of the child is the ultimate goal of education. Therefore, the learning experiences provided to him right from birth by the family contribute towards the achievement of this goal. 

The child’s development is influenced by many other factors among  which  is his genetic endowment and environmental forces operative around him (Mishra & Bamba, 2012). The authors further stated that two agencies that influence most directly the nature and quality of children's educational experiences and development are the family and the school. Families vary greatly in structure and functioning. Variations exist also in school and in children themselves. Given this diversity in families, there is a need to understand how children's experiences within the family contribute to their educational outcomes (Mishra & Bamba, 2012).

When families disintegrate, it is the children that are greatly affected as they often end up with intellectual, physical and emotional scars that persist for life (Anderson, 2002). Most one-parent families, however, eventually become two-parent families through remarriage. Thus, a step-family is created by a new marriage of a single parent. (Ottawa, 2004).  According to Bonnie (2001), in the family formed by the second marriage, the children from each spouse’s first marriage become step-siblings. Children born or adopted by the couple of the second marriage are half-siblings to the children from the first marriage, since they share one parent in common. 

In a step family, problems in relations between non-biological parents and children may generate tension; the difficulties can be especially great in the marriage of single parents when the children of both parents live with them as siblings (Keith & Amato, 2001). When a female or a male decides to produce and rear children outside wedlock, it is referred to as single parenthood, hence a broken family (Ortese, 1999). According to Child Trends (2004), single parent families refer primarily to families in which only one parent is present, but may include some families where both parents are present but unmarried. No-parent families refer to families where neither parent of the child lives in the household. 

In some cases, a step-parent will legally adopt his or her spouse’s children from a previous marriage. The biological father or mother must either be absent with no legal claim to custody, or must grant permission for the step-parent to adopt (Yara & Tunde-Yara, 2010). In situations where a single parent lives with someone outside of marriage, that person may be referred to as a co-parent. All these family structures have been found to influence children’s academic achievement. 

Influence of broken home on academic performance of secondary school students could be viewed from the point of gender. According to woolfolk (2001), gender refers to traits and behavior that a particular culture judges to be appropriate for males and females. Operationally, gender refers to socially roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a particular society considers for men and women. It is possible that influence of broken home on academic performance of students may be more on boys than girls or vise vasa. Jacobs, Lanaz, Osgood, Eccles, and Wigfield (2002) found that self-concept of ability and task value in math decline for both genders between first and twelfth grades with no real difference between girls and boys trajectories over time.  In fact, by the twelfth grade, girls valued math more than boys when controlling for self-concept of ability in math. Although Lanaz, Osgood, Eccles, and Wigfield did not directly examined academic performance along gender line with regards to broken homes, the important thing to note here is that, they considered gender as a determinant in academic performance.   It is  therefore, necessary to  examine the influence of gender on academic performance of students from   broken homes. .

Closely related to gender is location.  Owoeye  and Yara (2011)  added that apart from gender, location also influences   the  academic  performance of  school  children.  To prove  their point, Owoeye  and Yara argued that children  from urban areas  are more  likely to better in school than those  from rural  areas. Alokan and Arijesuyo   (2013,p.213) comment on  the influence of location thus:

Many schools in the area of education in recent past seemed to have shifted studies from the measures of individual to the measure of the environment. The reason that could be adduced for this trend ranges from the accurate prediction which measures of environment could bring to learning in order to possibly manipulate the environment so as to bring about optimal conditions for learning. For quite some time, a general perception of the comparative inferiority of rural schools has prevailed. This view implies the existence of rural-urban differences in students’ academic performance. The general perception of rural-urban differences also extends to many other socially desirable outcomes, such as aptitude, intelligence and aspiration.

The submission of Alokan and Arijesuyo  above paints a vivid picture on the relationship between location and learning.  However, Alokan (2010) submits that  location do not affect the negative relationship between student problems and academic performance. In another development, Considine and Zappala (2002) studied students in Australia and found out that geographical location do not significantly predict academic achievement. 

Academic achievement is an objective score of attainment after a specified instructional programme. Academic achievement can be influenced by many factors, yet the impact family relationships play on a child’s scholastic achievement alongside the development of the child cannot be overemphasized. The tension in the home, family  discord or family instability all cumulatively produce an emotionally unpleasant atmosphere in the home. The relationship between the husband and wife, parents and children, relationship among siblings if not cordial, can result to conflicts especially between husband and wife. If this persists, it can lead to a stretch of frequent quarrels and antagonism of both parties from time to time and thereby resulting to broken homes (Yara & Tunde-Yara, 2010). 

The gradual development of these problems till its full manifestation directly affects the emotions of growing children especially young adolescents and can adversely disrupt the level of concentration and learning abilities of these children in school. Thus, the family structure a child comes from can seriously affect the academic performance of an individual especially an adolescence. 

Secondary school is the type of school that absorb  pupils that have  graduated from primary  school and   prepared  students for higher education.The secondary school students are mostly adolescents. Yara and Tunde-Yara (2010) viewed adolescence as a period of transition between childhood and adulthood. 

Life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent. Such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resources, assumptions of new rules and responsibilities, establishment of new patterns in intra-familial interaction and reorganization of routines and schedules (Agulanna, 2000). Brofenbrenner (2006) argued that the mother’s capability in handling her child after separation is greatly influenced by the assistance and support received from friends, relatives, and the child’s father. Whether or not a child’s parents are married and stayed married has a massive effect on his or her future prosperity and that of the next generation. Unfortunately, the number of children born into broken homes is increasing by the day especially in Nigeria (Wegman, 2006). One-parent families were the result of the death of a spouse in the past. Now, most one-parent families are the result of divorce, some are created when unmarried mothers bear children (Munroe & Blum, 1999; Wadsworth, 2002). 

In Nigeria, the existence of single parents was formerly unknown and where they existed, they are ignored as exceptional cases. However, they are currently the fast-growing family patterns both inside and outside Nigeria (Nwachukwu, 1999). Marriage involves an emotional and sexual relationship between particular human beings. When children see their parents getting along and supporting each other, they will mirror and will likely get along with each other and their friends. This implies that the energy that two individuals (husband and wife) put into their relationship will come back to them through their children. It has been argued that the entrance of a new and possibly unwelcome adult into the family can be a source of stress and rivalry for the children (Hetherington & Camara, 1999). Simons (2000) asserted that children may become resentful of the time they lose with the custodial parent as a result of the new partner. Furthermore, dating and remarriage may destroy children’s belief that their parents will remarry. 

Remarriage is often confusing for children and adolescent because they must learn to adapt and accept yet another new family structure. However, it is interesting to note that students living with stepfathers are much more likely to say that their stepfather is a member of their family than they are to include their non-residential biological father as a family member (Furstenber & Nord, 2005). Stolba and Amato (2003), however, argue that adolescents’ well-being is not solely associated with the loss of the noncustodial parent. Instead, they conclude that alternative family forms can be suitable for raising adolescents, if they provide support, control and supervision. They however, suggested that extended single-parent households may be less beneficial for younger children. Usually, one of the first impact that divorce/broken home has on a child is a dramatic decline in the standard of living in the custodial household (Duncan, 2004; Bean, Berg & VanHook, 2005; Ross, 2005). 

According to Krantz (1999) children belonging to lower socio-economic groups after divorce experience greater hardships. Do these hardships, however translate into adjustment problems? Some researchers argue that this decline in socio-economic status is directly linked to a variety of problems experienced by the child, such as psychological maladjustment and behavioural difficulties in school. However, research has found that across the economic spectrum, children from single parent households or broken homes are more involved in crimes and drugs than students from two-parent homes (Rector, 1999). Fincham (2002) posited that the question of whether boys or girls are more adversely affected is quite complex, and the answer is likely to depend on a host of factors such as the sex of the custodial parent, their parenting style, whether they have remarried, the quality of the parent-child relationship, and the amount of contact with the noncustodial parent. The impact of parental conflict on children’s post-divorce adjustment has received considerable attention in literature. Most theorists agree that parental conflict, at the very least, provides some negative influences for children’s adjustment to the divorce (Grych & Fincham, 2002).  This study therefore seeks to  determine the  influence of  broken homes on the  academic performance  of secondary school students  from Nsukka Educational Zone. 

Statement of Problem

The rate at which homes are broken today appears to be on the increase.. Despite all  the  efforts the  various  governments, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and  marriage counsellors are making to promote marital  stability among couples in Nigeria and Nsukka in Enugu State in particular,  the issue  of broken homes still exists in  the country. Literature sources reveal that students from such homes suffer emotional trauma, depression, negative self-concept and low self-esteem. In most cases, the adolescents from such homes manifest negative tendencies in school such as truancy, aggression, lack of concentration, examination malpractice, bullying, drug abuse, stealing and other vices. All these may lead to poor academic performance. 

Observation of academic records of the students in secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone suggests that most of the students from broken homes perform below average in their exams. This affects their future career in life. It  would therefore appear  that single  parents cannot meek up with  the academic  demands  of  the  students  that will ensure academic  achievement. Perhaps students from broken homes lack emotional support that guarantees academic achievement. 

The question then arises, could this poor academic achievement of the students be attributed to the family set up of the students? Could it be that most of these academically incompetent students stem from broken homes? These are the questions this  study will address.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to ascertain the influence of broken homes on academic achievement of secondary school students in Nsukka Educational Zone in Enugu State. In order to actualize this purpose, the following specific objectives will be explored.

i. To ascertain the educational challenges faced by  students from broken homes .

ii. To identify the emotional challenges faced by student from broken homes.

iii. To determine social challenges faced by students from broken homes.

iv. To determine the influences of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on location. 

v. To determine the influences of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on location. 

Significance of the Study

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the   study will validate or disprove the tenets of moral  absolutism. The study will  provide a theoretical framework that   can  be dependent upon  when carrying out studies on broken homes and academic achievement of students (learners).

Practically, the teachers, policy makers, curriculum developers and students  will benefit from this research since the information from the findings will enable them in handling vulnerable students from broken homes. 

Teachers, will benefit  from the  result of this study because it  will provide information on the influence of broken  homes on secondary school students school attendance  to the  teachers. This could  be when this work is presented in the school during workshop.  This information will guide the teachers in handing students from broken homes.

Policy makers will   benefit from the result  of  this  study because it will help them to determine the impact  of broken homes on the  academic achievement of  secondary school students when they read it on the  net. This will help them in formulating appropriate educational policies. This understanding will  help policy makers determine the formulation of policies that will take care of the needs of students from broken homes.

Also, curriculum developers will benefit from the result of this  study  because it  will help them in exploring the necessary measures to improve the  academic achievement  of  students from broken  homes when they read this work in the library.

Also, this study will serve  as a framework for  future researchers in a  similar field in order to  get better understanding of the problem at hand.

Scope of the Study

The study has both geographical  and content scope. The geographical scope of the study is secondary schools in Nsukka Educational Zone in Enugu State. The study in its contents covers all the prevalence of broken homes among junior secondary students (JSS III) in Nsukka Educational Zone,  the challenges faced by student from broken homes, the influence of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on gender and  the influences of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on location. 

Research Questions

This study will be guided by the following research questions.

vi. What are educational challenges faced by  students from broken homes?

vii. What are the emotional challenges faced by student from broken homes?

viii. What are the  social challenges faced by students from broken homes?

ix. What is the influences of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on gender? 

x. What is the influences of broken homes on academic achievement of junior secondary school students (JSS III) based on location? 

Research Hypothesis

i. HO1 : There is no significant difference in the mean  academic achievement scores of secondary school students from broken homes based on gender.

ii. Ho2 : There is no significant difference in the mean  academic achievement scores of secondary school students from broken homes based on location.



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