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1.1 Background to the Study
The influence of colonialism on Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. The influx of white explorers, traders and missionaries led to the development of settlements that differed from the traditional domestic environment. These new settlements were designed to reflect the norms, values and economic policies of the colonial masters.Africa, the land of blessed race, where the opportunists came to develop in order to colonize their resources for their good, was then left in vain hope(Allen, 2011).Although primarily established for white settlers, the new settlements known as urban areas or township also served as a refuge for appreciable number of Africans who had in some substantial degree emancipated themselves from the constraints of traditional society. Among them were professional men, clerks and shop keepers with at least primary education, growing numbers of wage-earners and large number of farmers receiving cash income from growing crops for world market (Fage, 1978).The projection of industrial capitalism in Africa produced well-defined urban classes’ people with technical skills. They wanted to lift themselves into the twentieth century world modestly symbolized by radios and bicycles and to enjoy freedom based on knowledge and a more advanced mode of production. These ambitions were feasible only in an urban settlement. Aba is reputed as a big commercial city. It is predominantly inhabited by businessmen of various persuasions traders, big – time technicians and craftsmen, importers and exporters transporters etc. Even the few professionals like Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, and Engineers etc. have unwittingly imbibed the commercial tradition of the dominant group.In Aba you are either a businessman or you are nobody. In fact the influence of commerce is so pervading that the market unions have come to connote the defacto government or power broker in all of Aba. The defunct famous Bakassi Vigilante Group was composed of traders and craftsmen. The commercial nature of Aba has also influence the attitude and life style of most residents. The rat-race syndrome is very pronounced. Everything is measured in terms of its worth in money. People do not have time for anything else but money. Parents do not even have time for their children. In some cases the children are surrounded by paid cooks, drivers and house boy/maids who attendto their needs while their parents are busy making money. This creates room for child abuse through neglect and over indulgence by parents. We can observe that the environment regulates the social, religious, academic and cultural inclinations of the child as other less fortunate children are abused through exploitation. For example, those employed as shop assistants may sleep in the shops. The typical day starts for such children of about 5.30am. The business continues up to 9pm since there is no legislation on shopping hours in Nigeria. Children serving as house helps are in similar situation. They wake up about 5:30 am and do household chores up to 7:30 am or even later. Some of these servants who attend school go to school already very tired. In some cases they walk a distance to school thereby worsening the situation. About 2.00pm when the school closes they go home to continue the household chores or carry clothes to sell in the streets. They come back late in the evening tired and sleep off. This routine is performed almost daily at the expense of the children’s studies. The child who hopes to grow up and become a professional is subjected to social constraints that are likely to obstruct his progress. Some of the constraints are child labour, street hawking, street begging, early marriage, child abandonment, child prostitution, child battering, sexual and physical abuse and therapeutic abuse by fake traditional healers (Ebigbo, 1988, Echezona, 1991). The environment ischaracterized by models that cherish aggression act-rich syndrome, substance level ambition and disregard of Education.It is also necessary to note that the surrounding or environment of a student influences their performance. Learning and reading begins in school but the first foundation of the child begins at home (Binkley 2008).