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An exploration of poverty and socio-cultural factors on young people's access to higher education in Kogi State, Nigeria.

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This thesis is based on research, which explores young people‟s access to higher education as shaped, by poverty and socio-cultural factors in Kogi state, north Central Nigeria. It is occasioned by the absence of young people‟s voices from existing literatures which examined their access to higher education in Africa, particularly in the Nigerian context. By considering young people‟s access to higher education beyond their rational choices, this study takes Bourdieu‟s theoretical arguments and Lewis‟ culture of poverty in explaining the influences on young people‟s access to higher education as shaped within their socio-cultural milieu and other relational condition such as poverty. Through an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data involving 300 participants: 120 respondents in the survey; 60 participants for the focus groups, i.e., six focus groups (10 in each session); and 120 in-depth interviews comprising 60 young females and 60 males, aged 18 to 28, the study illuminates the different social factors and contexts that were of significant influence on the young people‟s access to higher education. Evidence from the findings in the study has suggested that young people are confronted with various contradictory norms and social constrains with respect to their gender, economic status and relational positions in gaining access to higher education. For instance, contrary to the social and religious norms within the local context of the young people that encourage them to attend formal education up to higher educational level, the existing gender norm limits female access to higher education. Apart from this, the young people were constrained in many ways that were often in conflict with other expectations widely held in their religious communities. The study concludes that socio-cultural factors played an essential role in young people‟s access to higher education while limited economic resources had a major impact on their educational pursuits. Accordingly, the study identifies a need for sensitization and a reconstruction of dominant gender norms affecting female‟s access to higher education. It also recommends more research on young people‟s access to higher education through the voices of young people themselves and studies that may go beyond the problem-centred approach in attending to the contexts of the exact implication on access for young people‟s higher education.


Doctor of Philosophy in Social Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2017.