BEYOND FREE EDUCATION POLICY: A FOCUS ON PSYCHOSOCIAL CORRELATES OF SCHOOL ATTENDANCE BEHAVIOUR AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN OWERRI, IMO STATE, NIGERIA
Behavioural problems associated with school attendance have become a major concern to government and stakeholders in the education sector. Therefore, this study investigated some psychosocial variables (Self-efficacy, School Connectedness, Parents’ Attitude towards School, Parental Involvement and Peer Influence) as predictors of School Attendance Behaviour among secondary school students in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. A sample of 300 secondary school students drawn from the 3 Local Government Areas in Owerri participated in the study. They responded to six 6 valid and reliable instruments, namely: generalized self-efficacy developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1993), with a reliability coefficient at alphas level r = 0.72.; School Connectedness Rating Scale by Blum (2002) with reliability coefficients adequate at 0.80. Attitude Towards School Rating Scale by Samal (2012) with a coefficient alpha of r = 0.60. Parental Involvement Scale developed by Hicks (2006) ;r = 0.58. Peer influence scale was developed by Mangleburg, Doney and Bristol (2004) with an alpha level of r = 0.86. and finally School Attendance Behaviour Rating Scale by McCoach and Siegle (2002) with a Crumbach alpha of r = 0.69. Data analysis involved the use of Multiple Regression Analysis and Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) to seek possible predictive capacity of the 5 independent variables on School Attendance Behaviour. The result indicated positive correlations among variables, and the five independent variables when taken together, contributed 24%, while relative contributions revealed Parents’ Attitude towards School as the highest contributor with a β of .336, followed by Self-efficacy (β =.185); Peer Influence (β = .127); School Connectedness (β = .091) and Parent Involvement (β = -.094) respectively. On the basis of these findings, recommendations were made chief among which is that government should not rest on its oars else the free education policy will remain just a policy paper with no positive measurable outcome. Therefore, among other things government must embark on aggressive campaign using the mass media and other media as well as advocacy visits to the local communities.
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