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The purpose of this study is to identify interpret and understand the effect of early marriage on the academic performance of the girl-child with a view to recommending appropriate measure to be taken in order to enhance their welfare in terms of education and thus empower them to become relevant and potential citizens of the contemporary Nigeria. The investigation was conducted solely with the purpose of findings out the attitude of the general public on early marriage of girl-child, the effect of government as per discouraging the practice, the effect of the practice on the nation’s political and economical terrains. The following recommendations were made in this research work, the government should ensure that their programmes on orientation should be properly channeled in order to get to the grassroots, government should introduce on the school curriculum topics on early marriage and its effects on Nigeria child.



1.0                                                        INTRODUCTION
1.1                                           BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The history of marriage dates back to the history of mankind. Biblically, God created the first man called Adam and he was without helper. God being omnipotent  and omniscient know his problem and hired him into a great slumber and removed one of his ribs and created a woman called Eve (Genesis 2:21-22) from this time, marriage was first contracted by Adam and Eve who was the first parent on earth to highlight this, the holy bible says, so God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him, male and female and God blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth ad subdue it” Gen. 1:27-28.
       Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. Sadly, the practice of early marriage gives no such cause for celebration. All too often, the imposition of a marriage partner upon a child means that a girl or boy’s childhood is cut short and their fundamental rights are compromised (UNICEF, 2001). Young girls are robbed of their youth and required to take on roles for which they are not psychologically or physically prepared. Many have no choice about the timing of marriage or their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health and wellbeing, education, and participation in civic life.
        The literature identifies many interrelated factors almost similar worldwide with small variations between societies that interact to place a girl child at risk of early marriage. Those factors include among others, search for economic survival, protection of young girls, peer group and family pressure, controlling female behavior and sexuality, wars and civil conflicts, maximization of fertility where infant mortality is very high (The working group 2000; UNICEF2001; Mathur et al. 2003) Early marriage contributes to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular. For both girls and boys, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts; cutting off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. In this project more emphasis is given to girls as this is an issue that impacts upon girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity. Besides having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole. UNICEF (2000) argues that it is not only girls that pay for early marriage but also the society as a whole. Population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development are just a few of the growing burdens that society shoulders because of teenage pregnancies. Early marriage also undermines international efforts to fight against poverty in developing countries. Bunch (2005) makes it clear that the widespread practice of child marriage makes it increasingly difficult for families to escape poverty in the developing world, thereby undermining critical international efforts to fight poverty, HIV/AIDS and other development challenges, and making billions of dollars in development assistance less effective.
      Drawn from an extensive reading of published materials; textbooks, journal articles and magazines, consultation of different web sites, listening of videos related to early marriage, this project will emphasize on the following : Firstly, it argues that “a number of factors such as poverty, social cultural and religious norms, civil conflict, value of virginity and fears about marital sexual activity are the major factors that contribute to early marriage of girls in Ibesikpo and Nigeria at large”. Secondly, it asserts that “early marriage is a violation of girl’s human rights as it deprives her from freedom, opportunity for personal development, and other rights including health and wellbeing, education, and participation in civic life.”Lastly, it argues that “early marriage is a developmental challenge for the growing burdens such as population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development that society shoulder.”
        However, the foundation of any human society is the family and for any family to come to the existence there must be marriage institution in the world of Heroine Boetlner (1980:322) marriage is a Holy Sacred relationship between man and woman, designed to continue as long as they both live, beside, St. Paul argue that for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and to be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh holy bible (R.S.V) Ephesians 5:30-31. As a matter of fact, things that normally accompany marriage ceremony among Nigerians and the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in particular are today clear manifestation of the high degree of self respect and sense of admiration for the marriage institution.
Especially, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, parents give out their daughters for marriage at very tender age or early age which form the centre point of this project. The issue of early marriage of girls which is often contributed by parents on behalf of their children when they are still two young to appreciate what marriage is all about, have generated a lot of problems to the people of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.

            This explain why Duoglas C. Kannel (1980:223)  says men and women who married before the age of 20 had the highest rate of divorce, they were over two times more likely to divorce than men and women who married between the age of 25 and 29. With this idea of marriage at the back of our mind, we can now define early marriage according to Henry J. I. (1953:313) early marriage is the uniting in formal marriage of children under 13 years of age with a much older men. Again, Cohel R.S. et al (1980:186) argue that the teenage mothers usually for go education, even those who return to school do not continue as far as their peers who did not become pregnant while teenagers.
The above statement show how bitter these anthers were particularly on girls who were being denied of their right to education regardless of their abilities. This equally deprives them what they would have made to national development if their potential were fully maximized. Traditionally, the people of Nkanu East have the notion that whoever refuses to marry at his or her youth has defined the culture and the custom of the area. This goes a long way to explain the custom whereby if one marries without off spring or fail to married, the property of such victim is usually shared among his or her relations and will be buried outside the compound in a place called Ogbunkwu (evil forest) without befitting and ceremonial burial. This shows that early marriage is generally accepted in the area because, a situation where one marries and dies without producing children, the property of that person is usually shared among his or her relation.
Beside, the influence of Christianity is gaining much in that aspect. This is because the members of the congregation are always ready to bury any of their members with or without issue. These days the non Christian through association of age grade or peer group has a lot of influence  on the old age tradition idea, hence such members can buy  piece of land and bury such victim instead of allowing the traditionalists to bury such dead body in the evil forest.

1.2                                                        INTRODUCTION
Right from the beginning of ages, the effect of early marriage on the academic performance of the girl child has been a topic for debate. In 2004, Children’s national Day, the UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Nigeria, had a presentation of statistical result of schooling children to non-schooling children in the contemporary society. The research presentation shows that over 7.2 million Nigerian children are out of school as they engaged themselves in hawking, as maid to people or otherwise. Meanwhile, from the above result, 87% of these children found outside school were girls. In a press briefing organized by the Chairman of National Orientation Agency, Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwudi the major reasons why more girl child are found outside school was because female children are given out on marriage at an early age range.
          It is no longer a matter of argument that females constitute more than fifty percent (50%) of worlds active population (UNESCO, 2008). Although they make immense contribution to national development, they still face a number of difficulties that limit their potentials in promoting personal and collective development. A key area of concern in this regard is that of their education, which can only at best be described as dwindling as and less than equal to that of the male. (Obaya, 2003). The marriage institution is very vital in any society; it’s legitimate in the productive process and ensures the meaningful preparation of the social norm of society. Yet the timing and the resultant impact of early marriage is a source of concern for many who cherish the equitable participation of female in modern education. When girls are married at age of 10 to 14, their educational careers are disrupted especially if an avenue for second chance learning is not provided. Once girls are left behind in this process, they add to the burden of development of the society and their positive roles and contributions are limited early.
          It is impossible to allow girls to marry at the ages of maturity, when they must have had opportunities for the attainment of basic education. Meanwhile, one understand that the idea of girls being giving out to men for marriage at an early stage of life is not really because their parents, long for such life, but simply because of the poverty level of families. The indicator of prevailing poverty among the poor, rural and urban populace that the world receives from the UNDP annually is a clear evidence of lack of equitable distribution of wealth in society. As a result, several families live below the poverty line, living on less than N50 per day. We know for a fact that most of the families in Africa are extended, especially, with devastating impact of diseases including malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS. Consequently, families are less able to cater for the educational needs of their wards. When choices are made on who goes to school, the males are given preferential treatment, thereby leaving the girl child largely not catered for. This means that poverty’s impact on child education is felt more by the girl child, as most girls are giving out in marriage on a reason of getting money from the son in-law to sponsor the male child’s education. The question is: why must this be the case. Apart from the fact that parents do give this girl child out on marriage early, thus impeding their chances of education, it is observed likewise that, there are instances where the females themselves bear n themselves poor self concepts of being unable to cope with challenges of modern impressions society placed on them. This then becomes a very serious impediments to their learning and educational pursuits. There is a populate belief in society that modern education only emphasizes instrumental goals, that is, that it is mainly employment oriented. Therefore when learners complete educational programmes without commensurate assurance for modern sector jobs, society sees a mismatch and lack of energy. This discourages participation, given that no serious meaning is ever attached to learning itself. Similarly, schools do not teach skills that may help learners to become self reliant and gain self employment from their formal training.
Moreover, the female child sometimes agree to their parental ideas as regard getting married at a very early stage of life, tentatively because or the knowledge they have acquired that all perspective of education is masculine in nature.

1.3                                             STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
This study is specifically concerned with many and varied problems of the handicapped in Benin City, the handicaps here are referred to females whom are giving out to marriage at a very early age, this considering how this is affecting their education. the problems are in the following areas:
a.           What is early marriage?
b.           What are the causes of early marriage?
c.           How does the early marriage affect female education?
d.           What is the government doing to stop early marriage?
e.           What is the general attitude towards early marriage?
f.             In what area can we find higher rate of early marriage?
g.           What percentage of females get a second chance for education alter early marriage and otherwise.

       1.4                                         SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
          It is expected that findings from this study will help in the following areas:
1.           Help to identify what early marriage is all about.
2.           Enumerate the causes of early marriage
3.           Identify the effect of early marriage on the academic performance on girl child.
4.           Identify government aid towards the stopping of early marriage in Nigeria.
5.           To know the general attitude of the public towards early marriage.
6.           Should be able to tell if early marriage is higher in the rural areas or in the urban area.
7.           Identify the percentage of those that get a second chance for education after early marriage and the percentage of those that do not get second chance for education after early marriage.

1.5                                                PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
          Early marriages have been found to be at a very high rate in Asian, Africa Continents, even Latin America. The research work done by WOTCLEE, UNICEF and the ministry of education revealed that the future of Nigeria is being endangered as more than 50% Nigerians active population are derived of education as they are given out for marriage at a very early age. Meanwhile, the purpose of this research is to look at the situation of early marriage, its effect on academic performance of the girl child and then proffering avenues to reduce to the barest minimum, the idea of early marriage in our society.

1.6                                                  DEFINITION OF TERMS
Commensurate: In the right proportion, appropriate.
Contemporary: Of the time or period being referred to. Belonging to the same time.
Education: A process of training and instruction, especially of children and young people on schools, College,  etc which is designed to given knowledge and develop skills.
Legitimate: That can be defended
Marriage: A formal, usually legally recognized, agreement between a man and a woman making them husband and wife, the state of being married.
Masculine: having the qualities or appearance considered to be typical of or appropriate for men.
Norms: A standard or pattern, especially of social behaviour, that is typical of a group.
Perspective: A particular attitude towards a point of view.
Populace: The general public, ordinary people
Society: A system in which people live together in organized communities. A community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, organization. An organization of people form for a purpose.
Tentative: Done or said without certainly that it is right, definite or final, not confident.
UNESCO: This is an acronym for United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.
UNICEF: This is an acronym for, United nations children fund.

1.7                                                 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

The following hypotheses will be tested:
1. There is no significant difference between early marriage and girl child education
2. There is no significant difference between early marriage and societal development.
3. There is no relationship between early marriage and child bearing




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