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Background to the Study

Gender is defined by FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) as ‘the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material. Gender is not determined biologically, as a result of sexual characteristics of either women or men, but is constructed socially. It is a central organizing principle of societies, and often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution’ FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization, 1997). Despite this definition, gender is often misunderstood as being the promotion of women only. However, as we see from the FAO definition, gender issues focus on women and on the relationship between men and women, their roles, access to and control over resources, division of labour, interests and needs.

Gender is determined socially; it is the societal meaning assigned to male and female. Each society emphasizes particular roles that each sex should play. Although there is wide latitude in acceptable behaviors for each gender. (Hesse- Biber  and Carger. 2000.

Gender is used to describe those characteristics of women and men, which are socially constructed, while sex refers to those which are biologically determined. People are born female or male but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men.

Gender is the division of people into two categories, “men” and “women.” Through interaction with caretakers, socialization in childhood, peer pressure in adolescence, and gendered work and family roles women and men are socially constructed to be different in behavior, attitudes, and emotions. (Borgatta and Montgomery, 2000).

World Health Organization (W.H.O): The word gender is used to describe the characteristics, roles and responsibilities of women and men, boys and girls, which are socially constructed. Gender is related to how we are perceived and expected to think and act as women and men because of the way society is organized, not because of our biological differences.

We can therefore say that gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between and from masculinity and femininity.


Academic achievement is the outcome of education, that is, the extent which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals. Academic achievement is commonly measured by examination or continuous assessment but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspect is most important knowledge such as facts (Annie Ward & Stoker, 1996). Individual differences have been linked to differences in intelligence and personality. Students with higher mental ability as demonstrated by IQ test and those who are higher in conscientiousness tend to achieve highly in academic setting (Annie Ward & Stoker, 1996).

Assessment of the Influence of Gender on Secondary School Students Academic Achievement in Economics in Ishielu Local Government Area in Ebonyi State. Taking S.S.2 students as the center study, to assess them on Economics, Government, Mathematics and English Language subjects.

Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Political economy was the earlier name for the subject, but economists in the late 19th century suggested “economics” as a shorter term for “economic science” that also avoided a narrow political-interest connotation and as similar in form to ” mathematics”,  ethics”, and so forth.  A focus of the subject is how economic agents behave or interact and how economies work.

Consistent with this, a primary textbook distinction is between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines the behavior of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents (such as households and firms or as buyers and sellers) and markets, and their interactions. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy and issues affecting it, including unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and monetary and fiscal policy.

At the turn of the 21st century, the expanding domain of economics in the social sciences has been described as economic imperialism. An attitude may be defined as a predisposition to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given attitude object (Oskamp and Schultz 2005). The focus of this project is on school students’ attitudes towards Economics subjects taught in secondary classrooms. The term ‘subjects’ refers to both theory and laboratory classes in secondary school. Thus, the scope of the present study was limited to Economics as experienced by students in secondary school rather than out-of-school experiences obtained from external sources such as the media, museums, field trips and friends. Attitude towards Economics or science denotes interests or feelings towards studying Economics or science. It is the students’ disposition towards like or ‘dislike’ science while attitude in science means scientific approach assumed by an individual for solving problems, assessing ideas and making decisions. Student beliefs and attitudes have the potential to either facilitate or inhibit learning (Yara, 2009). Many factors could contribute to student’s attitude toward studying Economics of which the proportion is found to be 82% for male and 18% for female secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.

Agricultural sciences correlate highly with their science achievement. Halladyna and Shanghnessy (1982) and Adesoji (2008) have concluded that a number of factors have been identified as related to students’ attitude to science (Economics). Such factors include; teaching methods, teacher attitude, influence of parents, gender, age, cognitive styles of pupils, career interest, social view of science and Scientifics, social implicating of science (Economics) and achievement. The studies thus reviewed suggest that there is a relationship between attitude and methods of instruction and also between attitude and achievement; and that it is possible to predict achievement from attitude scores.

There is no doubt that Government as a subject in secondary schools is a means of developing the learners the skills of citizenship education and acquaintance of the workings of government machinery in the larger society. Government as a subject is aimed at bringing about change in the behavior of the learners. The extent of the achievement of this aim will depend on the teacher’s ability as the facilitator of knowledge, the materials he uses and the method he adopts to put across the teaching.

Over the years, attempt has not been made to examine the influence of gender on students’ achievement on this subject (Government). Despite the usefulness of this subject in the secondary schools, effort has been directed to mathematics, English and other science subjects to the neglect of this broad base subject, which is a core subject for those that will study law, business administration and all other courses in the higher institutions. It is hoped that, this study will provide the needed information that will assist government, school administrators, teachers, examination bodies, students and stakeholders in education to know the performance of both male and female on the subject ‘government’.

Before the birth of the 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria, Government subject has been part of the subjects that student offers from class III. With the introduction of the 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria.  Government subject is now been offered from senior secondary school one (SSS1) for both male and female in the art and commercial classes in the secondary schools and also an examinable subject by West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).

In secondary school Science class department gender differences favours male students while Art and Commercial class department gender differences favours female student. Females have better study skills and receive higher grades than the males in secondary school of which the proportion for Government subject is found to be 25% for male and 75% for females secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.

Over the years, there have been substantial improvements in the college preparation of female students and the college gender gap has changed dramatically. Goldin, Katz, and Kuziemko (2006) show that female high school students now outperform male students in most subjects and in particular on verbal test scores. The ratio of male to female college graduates has not only decreased, but reversed itself, and the majority of college graduates are now female.

The gender gap in mathematics has also changed. The number of math and science courses taken by female secondary school students has increased and now the mean and standard deviation in performance on math test scores are only slightly larger for males than for females. Despite minor differences in mean performance, Hedges and Nowell (1995) show that many more boys than girls perform at the right tail of the distribution. This gender gap has been documented for a series of math tests. Substantial research has sought to understand why more boys than girls excel in math. However, given the many dimensions in which girls outperform boys, it may seem misplaced to focus on the dimension in which girls are falling short.

So why do girls and boys differ in the likelihood that they excel in math? One argument is that boys have and develop superior spatial skills and that this gives them an advantage in math. This difference could have an evolutionary foundation, as male tasks such as hunting may have required greater spatial orientation than typical female tasks (Gaulin and Hoffman, 1988). In addition, or alternatively, it could be because boys tend to engage in play that is more movement- oriented and therefore grow up in more spatially complex environments (Berenbaum, Martin, Hanish, Briggs, and Fabes, 2008). The proportion for mathematics subject is found to be 70% for male secondary school students and 30% for female secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.

English language was introduced in Nigeria in the early 19th century by the British colonial administration. Although English language is a foreign language to Nigeria, in the sense that is not indigenous but widely used in Nigeria as the second language.

Ever since it was introduced in Nigeria, it has survived many decades and still survives to date as it assumes a more vital status in Nigeria. Bamgbose (2005) sees English language in Nigeria as one of the leagues of colonial administration, which has succeeded in eliminating the problems of multiple languages in Nigeria.”

In recent time, English has been rated as the world most popular language which is characterized by active communication from one continent to another, especially by the indigenous owner of the language. Formal education in Nigeria today is a product of English language. Without English, there is the possibility that there may not be anything more than the elementary formal education in Nigeria. Despite the importance of English language, the performance of students over the years, has been on a down world, trend. Media reports show that the performance of students in written, reading and spoken English is not encouraging.

Obayan (2006), was of the opinion that “spend and gender (sex) have a lot to do with the performance of students in English language. He also said that females tend to be more favourably disposed to the study of English language and other linguistics courses than the male gender.” Doglas (2001) discovered that male children perform better than their female counterparts in the study of science.”

Although gender has been said to be the major determiner of the level of proficiency of students in English language by many scholars and grammarians, but there are several other factors that could undermind the performance of students in English language such as background of students, teachers, interest, government and attitude towards academic works:

It is very important to emphasize here that the qualification of English teachers whose sole responsibility is to teach English language, will enhance good or poor performance of students. In order to ensure for accuracy, create motivation and interest, a good qualified English teacher should be placed in charge to teach the students. Government negligence and failure to provide the necessary teaching aid, has also contributed to the poor performance of students in English language; ethnic groups with over 450 languages, English serves as a second language. It is the responsibility of the government to provide the necessary instructional materials to help in the teaching of the language to students of various levels of education. This should be done, so as to avert the influence of mother tongue on English.

It is the intention of the researcher to investigate whether gender has an influence on students’ performance in English language studies and also prospects of problems affecting the performance of secondary schools students in English language.

The performance of students in English language basis on gender is another essential part of this study. Admittedly is the fact that women are hypercorrect in speech, they (women) also use succulent words while their male counterparts are coarse and husky. The proportion for English language subject is found to be 65% for female secondary school students and 35% for male secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.

Statement of the Problem

The first gender issue that needs to be checked and addressed in Ishielu Local Government Area is the need for the teachers and instructors of educational programs to address gender equity in the school.

The primary issue is dropouts of gender. This is as a sign that teachers as well as instructors are not meeting their educational needs. This forces them to work rather than attend school and as a result doing anything to make little money such as Street hawking(biscuit, pure water, bambara nut popularly known as Okpa) while some may even go as far as selling their body to get money (prostitution). Part of the alienation is a function, conscious or not, of gender issues for these young people. Dropping out leads to numerous negative professional and personal consequences if not addressed.

Something that has also been developing in the gender equity community is a greater concern about the issues of young boys and a sense of empowerment for them. Some say that schools are female oriented places and that boys need more attention. Thus, the needs of boys in the classroom and on the playground in terms of bullying and harassment and academic achievement are also emerging issues in secondary school academic achievement in Ishielu Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to assess the influence of gender on students’ academic achievements in secondary schools in Ishielu Local Government Area.

Specifically, this is designed:

  1. To determine the proportion of male secondary school students that obtained ‘A’ grade in economics subject over the female secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.
  2. To determine the proportion of female secondary school students that obtained ‘B’ grade in government subject over the male secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.
  3. To ascertain the proportion of male secondary school students that obtained ‘C’ grade in mathematics subject over the female secondary school students in Ishielu Local Government Area.
  4. To ascertain the proportion of female students that obtained ‘C’ grade over the male students in English Language subject in Ishielu Local Government Area


Significance of the Study


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