Biology is an important school subject to students who aspire to be scientists. Trends of students’ performance in external examinations indicated that less than 50% of candidates usually pass the subject at a minimum of credit level. Empirical studies on the causes have focused largely on teachers’ ineffectiveness and inadequate learning and teaching facilities. The extent to which home, school participation and students’ engagement in child labour activities contribute to underachievement in senior secondary school biology have not been well investigated especially in a structural equation modeling context. Therefore, an 18-variable structural equation model comprising variables of home (parents’ location, cultural value, educational background, employment status, occupation, income, family type and size), child labour (timing and frequency of labour, parents’ attention to students’ need and provision of learning materials), school participation (punctuality, attendance, home and class assignment) and students’ achievement in biology was developed. This was with a view to establishing causal relationship among the variables and to determine the direct and indirect effects of each of the variables on students’ achievement in biology.
Ex-Post facto design was adopted for the study. Three states- Ogun, Osun and Oyo- were randomly selected from among states that have state capitals with distinct urban and rural areas. The selected capitals were stratified along location (urban/rural), while 21.0% of the secondary schools from each location were selected randomly. Twenty five senior students who engaged in academically detrimental labour activities were randomly selected from each sampled schools. Six validated instruments, namely Cultural Value (r=0.73) and Parental Involvement in Students’ Academic (r=0.71) questionnaires; Socio-Economic Status (r=0.68), School Participation (r=0.78) and Labour Participation Screening (r=0.85) scales and Biology Achievement Test (r=0.81) were developed. Data were analysed using Pearson product moment correlation and Path analytical procedure of Structural equation modeling at 0.05 level of significance.
Among home variables, educational background (r=0.67), cultural values r=0.28), parental location (r=0.16), occupation (r=0.08), income (r=0.05) and family size (r=-0.02) had significant relationship with students’ achievement in biology. From the child labour variables, students’ frequency (r=-0.35) and timing (r=-0.16) of participation in detrimental labour activities had significant relationship with students’ achievement in biology. Attendance (r=0.45), punctuality (r=-0.34) and class assignment (r=0.31) were school participation variables that significantly influenced achievement in biology. The model fit of Chi Square (χ2 (df=97)=113.72 which is an indication of good fit, with Goodness of fit index of 0.94, Normed fit index of 0.95 and Comparative fit index of 0.99 was established. Moreover, 77% of the causal effects in the model were direct effect, while 23% were indirect.
Educational background, cultural values, parental location, and timing and frequency of participation in detrimental child labour activities inhibited students’ achievement in biology in the south – west, Nigeria. Therefore, parents should be enlightened on the negative impact of child labour on students’ academic achievement and other school activities.