Over the years, the investigation of the factors that influence the academic performance of students has attracted the interest and concern of educators in Nigeria. According to Ajala and Olutola (2007), the state of the home affects the individual since the family is the first socialising agent in the child's life. This is because the family background and context of a child affects their reaction to life's situation and their level of performance academically. Although the school is responsible for the experiences that make up the child's life during the school period, yet parents and the individual experiences at home play tremendous roles in building the personality of the child and making the child what they are (Bock and Miller, 2006). The family lays the psychological, moral and spiritual foundations in the overall development of the child and parenthood is a responsibility requiring the full co-operation of both parents who must ensure the total development of their offspring.
Structurally, a family is either broken or intact. A broken family in this context is one that is not structurally in-tact for various reasons such as death of a parent, divorce or separation, in which case the family is not complete (Coukline, 1996). This analysis becomes necessary because life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent (Rani, 2006). Such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resources, assumptions of new roles and responsibilities, establishment of new patterns in intra-familial interaction and reorganisation of routines and schedules (Agulanna, 1999).
Different factors are capable of influencing the academic performance of secondary school students. Some of these factors could be students' internal state (intelligence, state of health, motivation, anxiety, etc.) and their environment (availability of suitable learning environment, adequacy of educational infrastructure such as textbooks and well-equipped laboratories and library).
Most notable among these factors are the role of the family, family adaptability and cohesion (González-Pienda et al., 2003), parental expectations (Marchesi and Martin, 2002), social change and the media, the educational system, reforms and polices (Marchesi, 1995; Martinez and Miguel, 1998), and other psychological aspects such as intellectual capacity (Descals and Rivas, 2002), motivation (Navas, Sampascual and Santed, 2003) self-esteem and self-concept (Broc, 2000). Other reported factors include peer group influences and socio-economic factors (Morakinyo, 2003; Angrist and Lang, 2004).
According to Olotu (1994), in the quest for adequate means of survival, the nation has evolved a series of socio-economic and educational measures and policies which have increased the sufferings of the populace and widened the socio-economic gap between families. Mba (1991) lamented that poverty of the parents has made education and learning impossible for children, especially disabled children in rural areas. He lamented that poverty has further caused other problems, such as disease, frustration, poor performance, and so on. Therefore, the child's socio-economic status tends to have a lasting effect on their academic performance.
The issue of single parenting also has a direct bearing on the educational attainment of the student and could result to conditions which are not very conducive for effective motivation of children. This is because when the single parent is overburdened by responsibilities and their own emotional distress, they often become irritable, impatient and insensitive to their children's needs (Nzewunwah, 1995). This would likely affect the academic performance of these children.
It is against this background that this study was conceived to investigate the possible contribution(s) of home factors in influencing the academic performance of secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government of Abia State. …