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1.1 Background to the Study

Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs an individual will ever face and can be stressful at times, but also very rewarding. Becoming the parent of a child has a time of great stress and challenge and is reported to have higher amounts of physical, emotional, psychological, and financial constraints. Luzzo (2012), stated that motherhood seems to oppress women and mothering is not quite compatible with other roles.

Being a mother and pursuing a tertiary education is a challenge for many married female students. This is as a result of the additional obstacles they encounter as they strive to complete their tertiary education. Being a mother and pursuing a post-secondary education presents challenges for many mothers. This is because the reproductive career of females coupled with their socio-cultural and economic responsibilities have the potential to impede their academic performance. Generally, women are noted for playing multiple roles such as being a wife, cooking, washing, pregnancy burden, child rearing and nurturing and many other domestic chores. The pressure to fulfill these roles and concentrate on academic works overwhelms some married female students often laden with a disproportionate burden of household task and caregiver responsibilities when enrolled into higher institutions. As a result, management of multiple roles is a source of stress for married female students and unsuccessfully managed stress factors may result in premature withdrawal from school.

By completing a post-secondary education, women in particular increase their access to higher paying jobs and healthcare for their families (Lee, 2017). In some instances, the increase in income is immediate (Rose & Hartmann, 2014). 

It has become an obvious fact that issue of parenting seems to adversely affect women especially in education. As the women give birth, their career motivation becomes much more vulnerable to competing role priorities and environmental demands. In a study by Swanson  & Tokar  (2010),  married female students  identified  childcare  concerns  and  career sacrifices  as barriers to their career aspirations. This is because the child development becomes critical for women to concentrate and it becomes worst when the child is sick.  Women tend to abandon or miss classes, test and exams to take care of the child. This constitutes obstacles for many women career advancement especially when there is no support mechanism.

In addition, where married female are confronted with problems of financial difficulty, relationship problems and support networks, it affect the general life of married female students. While there are no comprehensive information on the conditions of married female students of higher institutions, perhaps, this can be attributed to the fact the educational institutions do not have a specific policy on the subject. As such UNESCO (2010) argued that countries can achieve most Millennium Development Goals if female education becomes a priority. Although Nigeria has reduced  the  gender  gap  in education  over  the  last  two  decades,  less  emphasis  has  been  placed  on  the  challenges married female students face on campus.

Coping strategies are the well adopted positive ways in handling parental stress. Toyin and Akoraro (2009) in a study established that there is a significant relationship between adjustment strategies adopted and high academic performance of married female students. This is to say that academic activities and pursuit by married female students are stressful period in their academic training. Also, many married female students experience substantial level of stress as a result of role conflict, which contributes to poor academic performance, academic dishonesty, cynicism, and substance abuse.

The reproductive characteristics of females impede the quest by some to achieve their full potential in their academic life. That is, combining household chores, child-rearing with academic activities on campus become a challenge. Chabaud (2012), observed that student mothers  who combined activities  would  obviously  find  it difficult to effectively combine domestic responsibilities and academic work as they become tired  which  drained  their  physical  energy  and  affected  their  academic performances. Mason (2009) similarly reported that female students who are parents face difficulties balancing school, family, and work life. West (2011) quantitative study of 103 married female students in education found that “Among the challenges experienced by the students, those most commonly reported were time management issues, including balancing work and life commitments, as well as their relationships with their spouse” and this affect family relationships and that parents struggle to satisfy their children’s care responsibilities and academic demands. Other challenges faced by married female students include stress, absenteeism, financial constraints, lack of spousal supports and inadequate time to study.

However, Ansah, Osman, Thompson &Bondah (2017) found that many student mothers develop coping strategies by engaging house-helps and planned domestic work schedules.  In  their  study, student’s mothers engaged  the services  of  house-helps  (paid  domestic  workers)  to  perform  their  family  chores, also plan  family  work  schedules  to  make  more  time  for  their  studies.  Student mothers  who combined child rearing  and  academic  work  made  time  for  both  children  and academic work  by visiting  home frequently,  at weekends,  when they did not have lectures  in order to perform their roles. Some worked to raise income for their needs and the needs of their children when their universities are not in session. Married female students who  have babies while in school depend on peer support for academic work because, lecturers often don’t repeat what they have taught  to enable them understand concepts that were taught in their absence. Some married female students continued to share accommodation with their family members and friends off campus for a greater part of their programmes and have had to attend to their children’s needs before, during and after school.

Given the varied needs and challenges of married female students in  relation  to  their  academic  work, emphasis  also  needs  to  be  placed  on issues  that  touch on their academic pursuits. It is against this backdrop, that the study seeks to carry out an investigation into coping strategies adopted by married women in tertiary institutions and its impact on academic performance in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

 1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

The issue of poor academic performance among learners in colleges of education is not strange among married women. It is common to see a lady that is performing well in her academics, suddenly start performing poorly after marriage. This is due to numerous responsibility which comes with marriage. Some women become pregnant immediately after marriage and this influences their academic performance due to the challenges which come with pregnancy.

Also, academic stress such as early attendance to lectures,  inability to meet assignment deadlines, inability to prepare for test, participate in examinations, uncompromising attitudes of lecturers, unfavorable comments, inadequate funds  for  academic fees including purchase of books, handouts,  accommodation  fees,  feeding,  purchase of  other  logistics  including  drugs,  clothing, among others has psychological effects  on married female students and invariably produce  poor  grade which becomes  a  source  of  worry  to affected married female students.

There are numerous strategies adopted by this married women in order to enhance their academic performance. This gives the impression that married women can still perform well in their academics, if the right strategies are adopted. It is in light of the above findings that the researcher is interested in investigating into coping strategies adopted by married women in tertiary and impact on academic performance in Federal College of Education, Pankshin. This is with an aim finding lasting solution to the identified problem. 

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to investigation into coping strategies adopted by married women in tertiary institutions and its impact on academic performance in Federal College of Education, Pankshin. However, the specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. Identify the challenges faced by married female students in their academic performance.
  2. Examine how marital responsibilities affect married female students in their academic performance.
  3. Examine the coping strategies adopted by married female students towards academic performance.
  4. Suggest strategies that can best help married female students to cope effectively in their academic performance.

1.4 Research Questions

      This study answers the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced by married female students in their academic activity and performance?
  2. To what extent does the marital responsibility affects married female students in their academic performance?
  3. What are the coping strategies adopted by married female students towards their performance academically?
  4. What are the suggested coping strategies that can be used by married female students in their academic performance?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

H01: There is no significant relationship between coping strategies used by married female students and their academic performance

1.6 Significance of the Study

The benefits of this study cannot be underemphasized. In the light of this, the study shall be of benefit to students, school management, policy makers and researchers.

The findings could be of great importance to student who are married as they will get well acquainted with the inherent challenges in continuing education in the tertiary institutions and the possible coping strategies they could adopt to face these challenges.

The findings of the study will not only be useful to the family as a unit but to the nation as a whole in its quest for empowering women through education. The study will serve as a guide to policy makers to formulate policies and programmes that will help ease the challenges married women face in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.

It is the wish of all educational institutions to design and deliver programmes that meet the needs and aspirations of different categories of students. The findings could therefore serve as a guide to the management of Federal College of Education Pankshin in their quest to improve on their programme. This could occur as the study will serve as a source of information on the challenges confronting the student who are married and either pregnant or nursing mothers and the support services the college must provide to make academic work meaningful to them.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study analysed the challenges and coping strategies adopted by married female students in Federal College of Education, Pankshin. Therefore the geographical scope of this study covers only Federal College of Education, Pankshin. Also, the scope of the study covered the challenges faced by undergraduate married female students, how the challenges affect their academic performance, the strategies they adopt to overcome such challenges in Federal College of Education, Pankshin campus. Therefore, anything outside this scope was not a major concern of the study. The researcher chose Federal College of Education, Pankshin because it is among the fast growing colleges in Nigeria and has among its objective to promote education across all human race and status.  

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms  

Challenges: Something that appears new and difficult which requires great mentaland or physical -effort in order to be done successfully. 

 Coping: This is an attempt to manage or deal with a stressful situation.

 Coping  Strategy: It is defined  as  “survival  skills‟  available  for  people  to  deal  with  or manage  challenges  or  problems  associated  with  biological,  psychological  and  social challenges.

Married Student: This refers to a female student who is married with or without a child.

Parenting: It is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood.

Performance: This is simply the accomplishment of a given task measured against preset known standards of accuracy, completeness and cost. It can also be define as the fulfillment of an obligation


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