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  • Background of the Study

            One major contemporary social problem confronting most countries in the world is early marriage. From the first world countries such as the United states to the third world countries, this problem has been a source of worry for policy makers, social workers and other human service providers due to its negative repercussions on the girl-child (Grunseit, 2007).

The existence of early marriage significantly affects the development of the girl-child. This is attributable to the girls’ absence of any consistent means of support to care for the children and themselves when they should have been in school. It is alleged that early marriage and its associated motherhood are characterized with shame, disgrace, school dropout and sometimes end of the individual’s dream of achieving higher pursuits. According to Yampolskaya, Brown, and Greenbaum (2012), approximately 60% of adolescent mothers live in poverty at the time of the birth of their babies, and approximately 73% go on welfare within 5 years of giving birth. Kanku and Mash (2010) also affirmed that falling pregnant while still at school happen at the wrong time for a girl as it affects their education and often ends up ruining their future. According to Lynch and Ghosh (2008), cultural norms prescribes different role for mothers (pregnant or nursing women) in all societies irrespective of their age, so as to be able to perform their varied care taking role in the family. With these responsibilities and the need to meet up the expectations from the academic field so as to fulfill one’s career and destiny, Mngoma (2010) said that most pregnant students drop out of school or had to repeat classes several times. They may also not be socially and personally mature enough to assume the new role of parenthood (Boltin in Sibeko, 2012) together with being a student at the same time. Also the emotional effect of the crisis of pregnancy which may in some instance end in the termination of the pregnancy could also result in the student experiencing post-abortion stress symptoms. These might have a detrimental effect on the student’s bio-psychosocial well-being, relationships and ultimately affect her academic performance.

Early marriage is a formal or informal union before the age of 18, is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are inappropriately the most affected. Early marriage is wide spread and can lead to a life time of disadvantage and deprivation. UNICEF, (2014) shows that early marriage prevalence has decreased slightly over the three decades, the rate of progress need to be scale up drastically, simply to offset population growth in the countries where practice is more common.

Despite national laws and international agreement forbidden early marriage, the phenomenon is still wide spread in many developing countries with higher prevalence in sub – Sahara Africa more particularly in Nigeria, more than seven hundred millions (700,000,000) women alive today were married as children. More than 1m 3 or some 250millions were before years of age. (UNICEF, 2001). Research has shown the young female students who married before the turn 18 years of age are less likely to remain in school and are more likely to experience domestic violence (UNICEF, 2016).

Young girls are more likely to die due to complication in pregnancy and child birth than women in the 20s, their infants are most like to be stillborn or die in the first month of life due to immaturity and inexperience to handle such responsibility.

The imposition of a married partner upon a child means that the boy or girl childhood being tempered with and cut short, and their fundamental human right is compromised UNICEF, (2012). Young girls and boys robbed of their youth and are required to roles for which they are not psychologically, emotionally or physically prepared for. Many have no choice about timing of the marriage or the partner, coerced into it, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their full reproductive health and well being education and participation in civic life. Early marriage contributes to series of negative consequences both for young boys and girls and the society in which the live. It is a violation of human right in general. For boys and girls early marriage has profound physical intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts, thereby posing a great danger on their academic performance.

Evidence from Guava and Minde (2010) , shows that girls who marry early often abandon formal education. If she continues with the formal education, there are challenges that will hamper with her academic performance such as early and unwanted pregnancies, with the condition attached to it such as morning sick, laziness, dizziness, sleepiness and frequent urination which can disrupt her class attendance and participation in some activities such as test, assignment, and attendance which are the major school curriculum that carries high percent scores of about 60%. And if she had a little baby, the time and cost of taking care of a baby is cumbersome. Seeing that handling academic activities and nursing baby are hectic, some cannot combine the two at once. In addition to that, keeping the house, cooking and other domestic chores can affect her academic achievement.

The factors responsible for such practice of early marriage includes search for economic survival, protection, peer group and family pressures, controlling female behavior and sexuality, wars and civic conflict maximization fertility where infant mortality rate is highly (UNICEF, 2016) besides having a negative impacts on girls most. The practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole. (UNICEF, 2000) argued that it is not only girls that pay for early marriage, but also the society as a whole, population pressure, health care cost and lost opportunity of human development are just a few among the growing that the society shoulders because of early marriages and pregnancies. Early marriage also undermines international efforts in fight against poverty in developing countries. Among the problems of early marriage is a vascular-virginal fistula (VVF) which remains a serious reproductive problem for women of child bearing age in the developing world. It is one of the most appealing misfortunes that women face as a result of early marriage.

While early marriage affects both males and females, girls are more affected due to a variety of reasons, including cultural, social, and economic factors. Early marriage among girls has been linked to several negative outcomes, including lower educational attainment, poverty, increased health risks, and decreased autonomy. Studies have shown that early marriage is associated with lower academic performance among female students. One study conducted in Nigeria found that early marriage was a significant predictor of poor academic performance among female students, as it negatively affected their attendance, engagement in school activities, and motivation to learn. Another study conducted in Ethiopia found that early marriage was associated with decreased academic achievement, as girls who marry early are less likely to attend school regularly, complete their education, and have limited opportunities to learn skills that can help them escape poverty.

Furthermore, early marriage has been linked to higher rates of school dropout among girls. Girls who marry early often face increased pressure to leave school and take on domestic roles, which can hinder their academic progress. One study conducted in Nepal found that early marriage was associated with a 31% increase in the likelihood of dropping out of school for girls. Early marriage also has an impact on the mental health of female students, which can further affect their academic performance. Girls who marry early are at higher risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. A study conducted in Bangladesh found that early marriage was associated with higher rates of mental health problems among young women, which negatively affected their educational attainment and overall quality of life.

Therefore, early marriage is a significant risk factor for poor academic performance among female students. Girls who marry early are more likely to drop out of school, have lower attendance rates, and experience mental health problems. Therefore, interventions aimed at preventing early marriage and promoting girls’ education should be a priority for policymakers, educators, and communities.

High maternal mortality and morbidity is another problem associated with early marriage. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the risk of death following pregnancy is twice as great for women between 15 – 19 years of age, than for those between 20 – 24 years of age. The maternal mortality rate can be up to five times higher for girls between 10 – 14 years than women of 20 years of age. This study seeks to find answer to the question on the impact of early marriage on academic performance of Students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

          It has been observed that early marriage has remained persistent in our local communities due to various contributing factors and has had negative effects on the life of the female students involved, for example, Spear (2001) affirms that young mothers are unlikely to complete their education. The incompletion of tertiary education limits the life earning potentials among the young women, which could perpetuate the cycle of impoverishment among them. In many states in Nigeria, early marriage has been one of the major hindrances to the educational success of girls (Leibowitz &Tlakula, 20018). As more young women remain in school in Nigeria, more students are exposed to the risk of becoming pregnant. Early married female students still face its associated consequences, including consequences from the family of the female student (rejection and discrimination from their families), consequences from the young mothers (early marriage, low self-esteem and health problems), consequences from school life (separation with former friends and isolation from other students) and consequences from community (lack of support from community and underestimation from community) (WHO, 2020).

Early marriage is symbol poor orientation throughout the world. Marriage is regard as sacred and a moment of happiness in one’s life. But this is not seen in case of early marriage perform. There is consensus in literatures that early marriage disrupts, distorts and disturbs the education as well as the academic performance of students but this does not imply that all students who are involve in early marriage perform poorly in education but early marriage posed a great threat to the academic performance of those coerced into it. Poor attendance in class, limited time to read and study, digressed focus from academics is to families’ welfare, withdrawal at times and poor managements and other challenges have been identified in existing literatures as the effects of early marriage on academic performance of students, especially female students.

Base on this, the study is therefore, concerned with the identification and assessment of the causes and effects of early marriage on the academic performance of the female students involved as well as exploring various strategies through which it can be avoided, prevented or tackled in Federal College of Education, Pankshin, so as to enable young mothers who would have dropped out of school due to early marriage to achieve their educational and career goals.

1.3. Purpose of the Study

          The main purpose of this study is to examine the effect of early marriage on academic performance of female student in Federal College of Education, Pankshin of Plateau State. The specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. Determine the causes of early marriage among female students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.
  2. Examine the effect of early marriage on their social behaviours
  3. Find out the effect of early marriage on female students’ academic performance.
  4. Find out the role of the counsellor in enhancing academic performance and social behaviours of students who marry early in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

1.4. Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. What are the causes of early marriage among female students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin?
  2. What is the effect of early marriage on their social behaviours?
  • What is the effect of early marriage on female students’ academic performance?
  1. What are the roles of the counsellor in enhancing academic performance and social behaviours of students who marry early in Federal College of Education, Pankshin?

1.5. Research Hypotheses

            The following null hypothesis will be tested at 0.5 level of significance:

H01: There is no significant effect of early marriage on the academic performance of female students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

1.6 Significance of the Study 

The benefits of this study cannot be underemphasized, especially now that the society is drifting towards damnation occasioned by sexual escaped among female students. Therefore, this study shall be beneficial to educational stakeholders such as lecturers, students, counsellors, government, NGOs and future researchers.

Lecturers will benefit from this study because they will device means of teaching students so that the female students who are married at an early age and are pregnant will also be carried along. Similar to this, lecturers will serve as advisors to female students so that they will not be victims of early marriage. Lecturers will also advice female students who are pregnant to attend school counselling sessions to get encouragement in order to do well academically.

Students who are female students will benefit from this study as they will come to know the effect of early marriage on academic performance. In line with this, they will abstain themselves from pre-marital sex or use contraceptives which will prevent them from getting pregnant at an early age.

Counsellors will benefit from this study as they will see the grate need of initiating sex education in Federal College of Education, Pankshin which will as well teach students about abstaining from premarital sex and also encourage them to use contraceptives or protection if they cannot abstain from sex at an early age.

Government will provide adequate information to every school in the local government area under study, concerning the various methods that can be used to avoid or prevent early marriage which could lead to school dropout among the students (especially the sexually active ones). This will go a long way in enabling the students to accomplish their educational and career prospects.

          The study will assist health divisions in identifying and assessing the various contributing factors and the implications of early marriage in the local government area as well as enabling them to develop strategies for alleviating early marriage in the twenty-first (21st) century.

To help policy planners to organize programmes for children and female students to know the necessary factors to take into consideration when formulating and implementation policies and programme designed to sensitize the children and female students about the implication/complications of early marriage. This study will also assist them in identifying the various strategies that can be adopted in attacking, reducing and preventing the occurrences of early marriage.

Moreso, it would help to stimulate and draw government attention as well as private agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), interest towards the issue of early marriage and how it can be tackled, prevented and reduced to a barest minimum.

            Finally, when this study is completed, it will serve as a source of reference materials to future researchers who would want to carry out research on early marriage . It will also add to the already existing body of literature on the topic under study.

1.7. Theoretical Framework

This study will be anchored on the theoretical framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which aims to comprehend and assess the potential impact of early marriage on the academic performance of female students at Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as proposed by Abraham Maslow, suggests that individuals have a hierarchical arrangement of needs. The foundational needs consist of physiological and safety needs, which must be satisfied before higher-level needs, such as belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization, can be addressed.

Early marriage has the potential to fulfill certain needs, such as the need for belongingness and love, as individuals may find companionship and emotional support within their marital relationships. However, it can also give rise to stress and economic instability, which can impede the pursuit of higher education goals.

Female students who enter into early marriages may encounter difficulties in balancing the responsibilities of married life with the pursuit of their educational aspirations. This predicament can pose a threat to their academic performance as they may struggle to allocate sufficient time and energy to their studies. Consequently, their ability to fully engage in educational activities and achieve optimal academic outcomes may be compromised.

In summary, the theoretical framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides a lens through which to analyze the potential effects of early marriage on the academic performance of female students. It highlights the interplay between fundamental needs, the fulfillment of which can be both facilitated and hindered by early marriage. By focusing on the principles of this framework, we can gain insights into the complex dynamics involved and better understand the potential implications for the target population under study.

1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

This study covers effect of early marriage on academic performance of female students. The study shall be restricted to Federal College of Education, Pankshin. The variables to be covered in this study are the causes of early marriage among students in the college, the effect of early marriage on their social behaviours, the effect of early marriage on their academic performance and the role of the counsellor in enhancing academic performance and social behaviours of pregnant students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

1.9. Operational Definition of Terms

          In the course of this study, a number of terms were employed. Some of the terms will now be defined for the purpose clarity and understanding. They are as follows:

Pregnancy: the state of being pregnant.

Early marriage: Is union between man and woman at the age of  13- 19 

Fertility: The state of being fertile, that is the ability to produce offspring or power of production.

Sexual intercourse: the physical ability of sex, usually describing the act of a man putting his penis inside a woman Virginia.

Contraception: The practice of preventing a woman from becoming pregnant. It is also the method of preventing conception.

Academic performance: This refers to the extent to which an individual excels in her academic endeavours. This could either be high or low academic performance.

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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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