It could thus be deduced from the above excerpt that in the school system, which is the focus of this paper, both staff’s and students’/pupils’ lateness to school pose the greatest problems to school administrators in Delta State. What then is lateness?
Literally, the term “lateness” implies a situation where an individual arrives after the proper, scheduled or usual time (Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, 5th ed., 1995). Furthermore, Lauby (2009) puts it as a term used to describe “people not showing up on time”. Breezes et al. (2010) contributed by saying that lateness is synonymous with “tardiness”, which implies being slow to act or slow to respond, thus not meeting up with proper or usual timing. It is obvious therefore that lateness could be seen as a system of network breakdown (Peretomode, 1991); a situation of not meeting up with program. Having therefore known the meaning of lateness, the causes of lateness should be highlighted.
Causes of lateness
There are numerous causes of lateness to school. Amongst others, the following are the major causes of lateness to school:
(a) Going late to bed: This is one of the major causes of lateness to school. Going late to bed could result in waking up late, as could be deduced from the literal meaning of the saying “early to bed early to rise”.
(b) Watching films and late-night movies: The individual involved in watching films and home videos may be so captivated and hypnotized by it that he/she forgets that he/she has to be in school; and at sudden realization, he/she hurries off and likely may not be punctual (Ukoshi, 2004).
(c) The habit of waking up late: Some folks find more pleasure in early morning sleep than the overnight sleep. These kind of people always wake up late to hurry off to school but most times, situation may not really be in their favor thus they are irresistibly late to school.
(d) Distance/location of school: The further the location of the school from the student/pupil or staff, the more distractions, obstacles, friends to say high to, hold-ups to beat, go-slows, etc. are there that tend to hinder his/her punctuality to school. For instance, consider a situation where an individual working in DELSU Secondary School, Abraka, leaves Eku or Igun every day for work. This individual is likely not to be punctual when compared with some one of the same status living in Abraka, possibly even close to the school; he is more likely to be punctual because the level of distraction would be lesser.
(e) Keeping friends of different status: Friends and acquaintances that are not of the same status with an individual tend not to understand the responsibilities of the individual, most especially those of lower status. For instance, a teacher spending most of the leisure time with a motorcyclist; the motorcyclist is likely not to motivate the teacher in the aspect of punctuality as compared with a fellow teacher.
(f) Engagement in untimely domestic chores/ activities: These activities are necessary but doing them at a wrong timing is what cause lateness to school. In some cases, most parents even oblige their wards to help carry their goods to the market and other such kind of chores before going to school. Activities like these inevitably cause lateness to school, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Furthermore, Oghuvwu (2008) concurred Dafiaghor 167 to this when he opined that “lateness is common as a result of students’ involvement by parents”.
(g) Innate anxiety level: Most people always have that relax mind in anything they do; they do not even care if they are running late or not; they do not beat their relax temple or mood of doing things. Even when a little hurry could make them punctual, they prefer to be late than beat their innate temple; this is a glaring situation.
(h) Family background: In some cases, the habit of lateness is being copied from family members. For instance, the child that sees the father always going late to work could also either voluntarily or involuntarily learn the habit, thus go to school late also. This is supported by Peretomode (2001) and Egbule (2004) when they elaborated the concept of Nature-Nurture as it affects an individual’s habits.
(i) Cultural background: We live in a society where the culture does not frown at, or rather say anything about punctuality as ethics in a work environment, thus to most individuals, punctuality is not really a serious matter, compared with how punctuality is being perceived in Western cultures and developed countries (Breezes et al., 2010).
(j) Religious background: Every individual in this world is loyal or faithful to one religion or the other. Even the atheist is loyal to his own beliefs, thus, he/she is his/her own religion. Individuals tend to swallow hook, line and sinker, whatever their religious leaders teach, and those which the religious teacher doesn’t teach is considered less or not important by them. the salient point is, if religions frown at lateness, it would reduce; and if they don’t speak of it or speak encouraging it (they may say, no matter what happens, God will always favor you); the tendency is that lateness would be on the increase, most especially in Delta State, Nigeria, Africa, where religion is tenaciously adhered to because of the fear of witchcraft and wizardry (African Science).
(k) Lack of functional and effective punctuality policy: Obviously, individuals could come late to school if they perceive that there are no consequences to it. It is a consensus that “if black man no see strong thing, e no they hear”. This consensus is more pronounced in Delta State, Nigeria, where the probability of misdemeanor and stubbornness is high. Furthermore, school head’s fairness or equal treatment between different subjects, as perceived by individuals, could cause lateness. Individuals are likely to be more punctual if they perceive obvious “rule of law” in terms of punctuality (Clackmannanshire Council Online, 2010).
(l) Too much body care and excessive facial/body make-up: In some cases, individuals are obsessed by their appearance to the detriment of timely engagements in school. Oghuvwu (2008) agreed to this when he opined that “lateness is common among females more than males”. This could be as a result of the fact that females require more time for their body and facial care and make up.
EFFECTS OF LATENESS TO SCHOOL
There are various effects of lateness to school. Many writers have pinpointed many of these effects. Amongst others, some are outlined and briefly discussed thus:
(a) Lateness disorganizes and causes distraction to the individual and the whole system:
The individual that came late to school is both a problem to him/herself, fellow students, teacher, and others in the school system. He/she walks in when teaching is going on. Both teachers and students turn to look at him/her. The system and flow is distracted and distorted. He/she thinks where do I start from to catch up? Asks a fellow student “Is he just starting? How long has he been teaching? What has he/she taught? Let me see your note.” From this simple analogy, it is glaring that the late comer is both a problem him/herself and the entire school system. In addition, according to “Clackmannanshire Council Online”, “lateness is disruptive to the individual and to the work of the class and may be an early warning of other difficulties”.
(b) Lateness inhibits the process of achieving the goals of the school: The basic reason for the human component is to enable easy achievement of the goals and objectives of establishing the school. Thus, if the employers’ goal is to make money, and the individual’s contribution to the organisation could bring the school N20 per hour. If he/she then commons 30 minute every day, thus N10 is lost every day as a result of lateness. The point is that as small as this, multiplied by the days of the years and a good number of employees with this habit… this would be a very great loss to the school. Thus, Ali (2007) clearly posited that “… showing up 10 min late could add up to lots of lost revenue for the company (school) and the individual. Furthermore, ETC’s (2009) “attendance and punctuality policy” clearly states that “regular and punctual attendance is of paramount importance in ensuring that all students have full access to the curriculum… valuable learning time is lost when students are absent or late”.
(c) Lateness leads to absenteeism and general failure in life: Pupils/students and/or staff could sometimes feel the extent of their lateness and very often they just decide to be absent. This has a very great effect on the individual’s academic and other achievements. According to Ali (2007), this could lead to the loss of confidence and engagement in premature sexual activity for students, leading to pregnancy, resulting in a phenomenon called storm and stress among adolescents. Also, Oghuvwu (2008) found out that “it’s always the same group of people showing up early and the same group of people showing up late”.
REMEDIES TO LATENESS
1. Schools should operate strict functional punctuality policy. One of the major responsibilities of the school head is to implement policies and/or even possibly make some. As whatever happens in the system would be credited or blamed upon him. Thus, the school head needs to carry out the function of maintaining punctuality policy without favoritism. 2. Staff and students in the school system should be sensitized and made aware of the effects of lateness to them and the entire school system, and also the benefits of punctuality to them first and then to the entire school system. This should be carried out by school heads, governmental and non-governmental agencies, religious bodies, and other such bodies and individuals. 3. The school administrator must teach punctuality by example. He/she must act as a model for all to copy. 4. School administrators should impose compulsory beginning and closing of the day meeting of staff and students. In the meetings, there should be strict attendance register. 5. School administrators should build in staff and students, the virtue of “time-consciousness”. For instance, putting wall clocks in conspicuous locations for all to see could instil the time-consciousness attitude in individuals in the school. 6. As an individual, try to be 15 min early to school, as this could help you make friends and say hello to already made friends; get one’s self prepared for the day’s activity; possibly even read a book, and most importantly could help make up for unforeseen causes of lateness, and still be punctual. 7. There should be also activities /acts to motivate and reinforce punctuality. For instance, awarding prizes for punctuality could go a long way in enhancing punctuality. 8. Parents and school administrators should join efforts in enhancing punctuality. UK Government (2010) stipulated that “on the first day absence, contact should be made with parents of the child to find out why the child is absent”. 9. Truancy patrol is a situation where members of the community are sensitized to seize or report students found outside the school environment after stipulated times. In this kind of situation, the pupil would likely be punctual since the only convenient environment would be that of the school… if he/she comes late, would be punished. He is then forced to come early. 10. Parents involving students in domestic activities should be mindful of punctuality. 11. Government, on its part, should improve transportation and other economic activities in the country. As some students walk/trek to school as a result of fair. Even those that have the fair, sometimes no transport service or no good roads, causing hold-ups and go-slows.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Conclusively, lateness among students, staff and supporting staff in public primary and secondary schools in Delta State is a major and continuous administrative problem, and there is need for students and parents to help identify and proffer solutions to this quality and disturbing problem that could lead to students’ drop-out from school, and also inefficiency and ineffectiveness on the part of the school administrators, by way of school administration and management; knowing fully well that lateness could be reduced by providing free education counselling and discipline among students, in addition to the use of electronic systems, truancy sweep by school heads. It should also be noted that lateness is common among female students, and as such they should be of more concern to the school administrator in Delta State. Finally, the remedy to any situation is in the situation, thus, the school administrator, should study the peculiar situation and respond as the situation suggests. The fact is no two situations are the same, no matter how similar. The author therefore recommends that this study should be empirically investigated. - (According to International NGO Journal Vol. 6(7), pp. 166-169, July 2011 ) Some UP Students also did a research. According to them,