FACTORS INFLUENCING THE ATTITUDE OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS TOWARDS CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES (CASE STUDY OF SELECTED JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN LAGOS MAINLAND LOCAL GOVERNMENT)
Background to study
One of the oldest curriculums in the world is Religious studies which is considered key in shaping the moral and spiritual life of learners. Given its crucial role, most developed countries have enlisted religion as a non examinable curriculum at secondary level. In Nigeria, the Christian Religious studies (CRE) curriculum is taught in all schools alongside Muslim and Hindu Religious studies that has been approved by the Ministry of Education (Education Act, CAP, 211).
Davis (1994) recognises religion as a factor that helps societies in developing cohesiveness. He attributes this to the perception that religion secures social order by declaring the order sacred or having sacred origin. He further argues that this perception is strengthened by the belief that religion is founded on a “higher being” that gives meaning to life and direction on individual and social behaviour. In recognition of the important role that religion is perceived to play in social cohesion, some countries have included Religious studies (RE) as a subject in their school curriculum. Grimmit (1973) strongly advocated inclusion of Religious studies in school programmes by noting that failure to do so would likely lead to disaster. According to Ashton (2008) Religious studies has been retained in the British curriculum because it is perceived to make an important contribution towards the well being of society in various aspects; social, moral, spiritual and cultural realms. He further argues that Religious studies encourages the young to search for truth, appreciate oneself, become aware of the implications of their action to others and develop both individual and corporate responsibility to the environment. Eshiwani (1993) supports this argument when he says that apart from the obvious contribution of Religious studies towards developing good citizens with good character and high moral standards, the subject prepares a person to take his place in society.
Statement of problem
Despite the availability of diverse avenues of learning Christian Religious studies to students of this subject, such as Young Christian Students, Christian Union, Christian Youth Crusades/rallies, Youth retreats, Pastoral programmes in schools and Christian Religious studies lessons, many students continued to perform poorly in CRS examinations in Lagos. Factors that were responsible for the decline in standards of CRS had not been well understood or investigated empirically in this region.
It is against this background that this study sought to investigate the attitude of junior secondary school students towards christian religious studies. In evaluating the attitude of junior secondary school students towards christian religious studies, students’ characteristics, (gender and age), institutional factors (category of school and teaching methodology) and parental background (parents’ level of education and occupation) were investigated. The effects of students’ ethnicity on their attitude were also investigated.
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the attitude of students towards christian religious studies among public junior junior secondary school students in Lagos state, Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study sought to:
- investigate whether students characteristics (age and gender) influence their attitude towards christian religious studies.
- establish whether institutional factors influence students towards christian religious studies.
- assess the influence of parental background (level of education and occupation) on students’ attitude towards christian religious studies.
- examine whether students ethnicity influences their attitude towards christian religious studies.
On basis of the research objectives the following hypotheses were formulated. These postulated that:
- students’ characteristics (age and gender) do not significantly influence their attitude towards christian religious studies.
- there is no significant difference between students in different categories of school on their attitude towards christian religious studies.
- parental background (level of education and occupation) does not significantly influence students’ attitude towards christian religious studies.
- students’ ethnic background does not have a significant influence on their attitude towards christian religious studies.
The present study is expected to generate knowledge for the policy makers, curriculum developers, educational planners, administrators and other educational practitioners to help them appreciate and acknowledge the students attitude towards learning CRS . It is also hoped that the study will provide educational institutions with valuable information on current trends of factors influencing students academic performance.
The study was faced by the following limitations:
- The question of lack of cohesion due to ethnicity is sensitive to some people who may opt to leave some questions unanswered. To overcome this, the respondents were assured of confidentiality leading to better participation.
- There is diversity in terms of how different people perceive cohesion and so the understanding of cohesion may vary. The researcher took time to explain what social cohesion means.
The study focused on the the attitude of students in junior secondary schools in Nigeria attitude towards christian religious studies. The sampling was limited to one state, that is, Lagos state. The rationale of choosing Lagos state was because it is a cosmopolitan city where different ethnic groups have lived together for a long time. Nevertheless it was greatly affected by the researcher resides in Lagos.
Definitions of Operational terms
Attitude: In this study attitude refers to students’ feelings, thoughts and actions in relation to cohesive behaviour.
Christian Religious studies: In this study CRS refers to a subject in the Nigerian school curriculum based on Christian teaching and meant to enhance moral and social aspects of development.
Ethnicity: In this study ethnicity refers to students’ perception of themselves from a tribal perspective.
Existential approach: In this study existential approach refers to a teaching methodology used in teaching of CRS that emphasises application of religious teachings on daily human experiences.
Negative ethnicity: In this study, negative ethnicity refers to the state of feeling superior or inferior on the basis of tribal grouping.
Perceptions: In this study, perceptions refer to the process through which junior secondary school students interpret and apply their study of CRS in practical terms.