Background to the study
The term Home-Economics may call up stereotypical images of girls busily sewing and cooking, images that have led many people to view this field as fundamentally narrow, dull and socially conservative. So often, home economics has been cast as a conspiracy to keep women in the kitchen, an interpretation that over looked its impressive and diverse contributions. Home economics is one of the compulsory pre-vocational subjects taught at junior secondary education level in Nigerian education system. According to Uko-Aviomoh (2005), home economics is a skill-oriented field of study that is expected to equip learners with survival skills that make for self-reliance, employment and paid employment. Occupational skills are best understood as competency on resourceful skills capable of steering an individual to be self reliant, independent and productive in meeting life’s challenges. Home-economics is a broad field of knowledge and services concerned with all phases of family life, it’s a course designed to promote a healthy home and society. It is also the major delivery system of Education for home and family life. Home-economics is a broad field which embraces separate but interrelated subject areas thus helping individuals to think intelligently and make meaningful decisions of facts of life.
These general areas of Home-economics are skills oriented; they are expected to equip learners with a saleable skill that make for self-reliance, self-employment and paid employment. This means that the teachers should teach the subject well.
Nigeria is experiencing hardship, mass poverty, and high rate of unemployment and as such majority of our people cannot afford the basic needs of life such as food, clothing, decent shelter and health care amongst others. Home-economics has the key to the solution of many problems of the country particularly on the issue of income generating skills among students which is a major concern in home-economics. In Home Economics, two things are central in developing occupational skills. Pendargast (2004) described them as the ability to produce and the ability to distribute. The ability to produce involves acquiring productive-occupational skills. Productive-occupational skills enable one to produce goods and services. On the other hand, the ability to distribute includes acquiring entrepreneurial-occupational skills that enable one to market and distribute the goods thus produced. Olibie (2001) noted that these abilities constitute the work oriented, career-oriented or occupational-oriented competencies that attempt to improve the efficiency and productivity of its recipient’s attitude required as craftsmen, business men and technicians at a professional or sub-professional level. Without teaching occupational skills, Home Economics educational program would fail in its role of empowering students to cope with the daily needs of life and surmount the economic challenges that appear to effect every profession and walk of life. Studies into the teaching and learning of home economics in secondary schools by Ajala (2002) and Uko-Aviomoh (2005) lamented the inability of most secondary school graduates of Home Economics effectively apply occupational skills to ensure productive living. As a result of this lack of skills, students continue to lose interest and cannot perform successfully in their life careers. Presently, many graduates of home economics are not sure of their employment destination. In addition, many secondary school leavers have no decent jobs and have no capacity to start their own business after graduation, Oloidi (2000). Thus, many are under-employed and cannot raise their living standard through the application of occupational skills and so they remain relatively poor.
When we talk about perception on the relevance of home economics in junior secondary school; Oladele (1988) defined perception as the process of identifying, discriminating, recognizing and adjudging objects, qualities or relations in our environment by means of sensory information. This means that individual learns to understand his physical and social world through his sense organs. Perception varies from person to person. Different people perceive different things about the same situation depending on how they see it. Perception can be influenced by so many factors; some of these factors are attitudes, motives, interests, experience, expectations, time, social setting and background (Sree Rama Rao, 2008). Relevance on the other hand is the degree to which something is related or useful to what is happening or being talked about (Cambridge English Dictionary). Junior secondary school students are students older than the primary school students, but not yet in the senior secondary school. At this point, the majority of students are between the ages of 12 to 15-years-old that is from JSS1 to JSS3. Despite the various careers available in home economics and its diverse contribution to national development, so many people still perceive home economics as a course for women, drop out who cannot be taken in any other subject area and course that has to do only with cooking and sewing. This misconception of home economics by people is one of the reasons why so many students lack interest in the subject. The perception of students on the relevance of home economics can be influenced by their parents, the sex of the student, the teacher, peer group, social image and parental level of income. Home economics education is one of the courses which attract lowest enrolment of students both in secondary and tertiary levels of education. Besides the low enrolment pattern, home economics show wide disparity between male and female students in favour of female. This could be attributed to wrong awareness (perception) of the meaning and the role of home economics due to certain problems relating to the teaching/learning of the subject home economics, lack of equipment’s and facilities for practical, the expensive nature and poor funding by the government.
The short sightedness of the students is compounded by the decision of their parents about their careers as many students have their career chosen for them by their parents. Parents prefer courses like Medicine, Engineering, Accounting, Law and Pharmacy among others to Home economics and would not encourage their children to study home economics. Parents are often more interested in occupations or professions which will bring money, prestige to the family, than the suitability of their children for a particular career Okoh (2006). Subsequently, most male students also do not like home economics because they think it is a course meant for only girls and that is it a course that has to do with only cooking and sewing. Most male students prefer subjects like mathematics, integrated science, introductory technology and are not aware of what home economics is all about, no ideas, no interest and their level of awareness on the course of study is near zero percent. The misconception of home economics by individuals can also be traced to the wrong impression created by some home economics teachers. Some home economics teachers do not improve themselves on the job and get familiar with the current trends in home economics. This makes it difficult or nearly impossible for them to teach the students things that are new in the field. Hence, cooking and sewing are the major things being taught to the students. Some teachers also do not hold the subject with a high esteem thereby lacking self-esteem and the zeal for self development which results in low teaching competence.
Peer group serves as a barometer for students examining themselves and their feelings about self and family. When a peer group have interest in other areas other than home economics, they tend to look down on the student who chooses home economics as their option. The social image attached to home economics is also responsible for students’ wrong perception about home economics. On first hearing the word Home Economics, the first thing that comes up in the mind of every individual is catering and sewing. A lot of individuals do not know what home economics is about and so some of them see it as a preparatory subject for becoming good house wives, since it deals with different food preparation, decoration of home and its surroundings, making of cloths, child care among others.
In view of the negative perception of students, parents and the society on the relevance of home economics and its various contributions to national development, it is therefore of paramount importance to investigate the factors that influence the perception of students on the relevance of home economics in junior secondary schools. However, I strongly believe that the home economics has an extremely important place in our educational system today. No other academic discipline incorporates in its curriculum as many as pertinent life skills that will help students succeed independent of their chosen career paths.
Statement of the Problem
Though Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources, one of the most serious problems facing this country today is that of unemployment. Employment opportunities are not sufficiently available of young school leavers. Perhaps, the most important reason is that there is little or no career information available to our students in secondary schools, which could help them make appropriate decisions concerning their courses of study. Nigeria needs the type of education that will help its citizens from ignorance, poverty, unemployment and crime. Home economics is that kind of education that contributes meaningfully to the solutions of the problems of the society such as unemployment, poverty and malnutrition.
People are ignorant of the importance of home economics which could help male and female students to receive information and be able to work solutions to problems, it also enable the students to acquire skills, abilities essential for independent life met up with personal and family needs more especially in this economics difficulties. Considering various contributions of home economics and its diverse career paths and the students’ lack of interest in the courses, a study like this needed to find out the students level of awareness and the factors responsible for that lack of interest on the course.
Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of the study was to investigate the perception of students on the relevance of home economics in junior secondary schools of Egor local government area of Edo state. Specifically, the study will determine:
- If the sex of a student influences their perception on the relevance of home economics in Egor local government area of Edo state.
- If parental influence affects students’ perception on the relevance of home economics.
- If the social image attached to home economics influences the perception of students on the relevance of home economics.
- If the influence of teachers affects students’ perception of students on the relevance of home economics.
- If peer group influence affects students’ perception on the relevance of home economics.
The above brings us to the research questions whose answers are expected to be provided by this research. The questions are as follows:
- Does the sex of the students influence their perception on the relevance of home economics?
- Do parents influence the perception of students on the relevance of home economics?
- Does the social image attached to home economics have any effect on the perception of students towards the relevance home economics?
- Do home economics teachers have influence on the students’ perception towards the relevance of home economics?
- Do peer group influence the perception of students on the relevance of home economics?
The following null hypotheses were tested in this study:
Ho1: There is no significant difference between male and female students perception on the relevance of home economics in Egor local government area of Edo state.
Ho2: There is no significant difference between the influence of peer group and parents on students’ perception on the relevance of home economics in Egor local government area of Edo state.
Significance of the Study
In Nigeria today, the educational system has not kept pace with the developing nations need for skilled manpower just because vocation has not been widely accepted and implemented. Parents have keen interest towards their children education which may run counter to social needs and manpower development. Based on the result of this study, it is expected that awareness of facts would be provided which will help educational planners’ aid administrators.
This study will be of immense benefits to students, teachers, parents and the nation at large who perceive home economics in a negative way due to lack of adequate knowledge of home economics associated careers and its relevance. The result of this study will go a long way in helping the school guidance counsellors, teachers and career advisers in the placement of secondary school students in a number of home economics related careers. It is hoped that the study will assist educators and the government in the formulation of policies that will give the Nigerian citizens a system of education which should be job oriented.
Scope of the Study
The study was designed to investigate the perception of students on the relevance of home economics, hence did not encroach into other fields like medicine, law, accounting and engineering etc.
Also out of lots of variables this study attracts only five, which are gender (sex of the student), the parents of the students, the teachers of home economics, the social image attached to home economics and peer group influence.
The study was limited to Junior Secondary School Students of Egor Local Government Area of Edo State for obvious reasons of time and finance. The population for this study consist of junior secondary three students from five different schools in Egor local Government Area of Edo State which will be sampled for data collection.
Operational Definition of Terms
Some of the terminologies used in this research are entirely for the purpose of the research and they include:
Perception: Conscious understanding of something.
Vocation: An occupation, for which a person is suited, trained or qualified.
Occupation: An activity or task with which one occupies oneself.
Employment: The work or occupation for which one is used and often paid.
Student: A person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college.