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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 7 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2009

CONSUMER EDUCATION AND INFLATION-COPING STRATEGIES OF NIGERIAN WOMEN: IMPLICATIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

B.A. Ukpore
Department of Vocational Education, Delta State University, Abraka
E-mail:besukpore@yahoo.com

Abstract
The study, aiming at identifying the strategies used by women to cope with inflation, and to
 determine the influence of consumer education acquired at secondary and post secondary institution on strategies used by women in the study area to cope with inflation,adopted an ex post facto research approach. It found that university women and those of the senior secondary school were more influenced by formal exposure to consumer education than their colleagues from the college of education. Appropriate recommendations were then proffered based on these findings.

Keywords: Consumer eduation; inflation; women; sustainability; sstrategy.

Introduction
 Inflation is a global economic problem. Ukpore (2006) defines inflation as persistent rise in prices year in and year out which leads to a reduction in the purchasing power of money that one earns. In Nigeria, the economy had contended since the late 1970’s with economic depression. In the bid to regulate the economy Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced in 1986. Despite the efforts of the federal government to beat down inflation, Dike (2005) stated that inflation in Nigeria has unrelentingly been moving upward, because of years of neglect of social infrastructure and general mismanagement of the economy. With the present meltdown of the global economy the prices of goods and services especially food and fuel have risen astronomically. This could affect sustainability and management of resources in homes.

The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) described sustainability as development to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ opportunities to meet their own needs. This definition indicates that sustainability aims to better the life of all people in a nation. On the other hand resource management refers to human and material resources. The focus of this study is on income management which is the process of using ones’ money wisely to achieve ones needs and wants. Thus to achieve the ultimate goal of sustainability, there must be a balance between sustainability and resource management, because sustainability as a concept has had limited success due to the overwhelming influence of economic factors. (Johnson, 2002)

The effects of inflation on resource management and sustainability in Nigeria are well documented. Inflation has led to untold hardship to parents and children (Akinrinade, 1987, Torimiro & Kolawole 2005, & Ukpore 2006). For instance, inflation has been found to cause household food insecurity and consequently under nutrition especially among women and children (International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, 2001 & National Policy on Food and Nutrition, 2001). Family relationships are also affected by inflation as it creates so many tensions in working life, the home and shopping situation (Lazell 1980). Thus, to be able to cope with inflation, which means to contend with existing condition such as inflation, many Nigerian families have devised several coping strategies for their family survival. In a recent survey carried out in Ogun state Nigeria, Ologunde and Ako- Nia (2005) found that many women engage in several private practices in addition to government employment to ensure their family survival; but they did not state how the income so received was managed. From personal observations and comments of others, Ukpore (2006) stated that to be able to cope with inflation, many Nigerians eat less protein foods and more of carbohydrate foods and buy second-hand goods including cars, household equipment and clothing. While buying second-hand goods may benefit the people, regular eating of foods

deficient in nutrient could lead to under nutrition and so should be discouraged. There is need therefore to document good strategies for coping with inflation.

This could be achieved through consumer education which is the process of exposing people to the knowledge and skills needed by individuals, families and corporate bodies to become competent consumers in a world that is constantly changing. (Ukpore 2006). Nigeria has shown its interest in making the citizens informed consumers through the National Policy on Education (2004). The policy stipulates that the post-primary school students should among other things be prepared for useful living within the society. This useful living within the society among other things includes intelligent consumption of goods and services. Thus, with the introduction of the 6-3-3-4 Education system, a consumer Education unit has been specified in the three subjects of Home Economics; namely (1) Food and Nutrition, (2) Clothing and Textile and (3) Home Management, taught at Senior Secondary School level. Other subjects such as Economics and Commerce also include a great deal of Consumer topics. However, these topics are not specified under any Consumer Education Unit nor taken as a full course. Today Consumer Education is taught as a course in Home Economics programmes in tertiary institutions.

In consumer education, students are exposed to a broad range of consumer behaviour, for dealing with economic conditions. One of the consumer behaviours is coping, which means contending with existing conditions. Blogger (2007), James (2007), and Smith (2008) have suggested some strategies which could be used to cope with inflation and they are grouped into three namely; savings, investment and buying techniques. These strategies are embedded in concepts taught in consumer education. Some of examples of the topics are: security, recreation, health and consumer rights and responsibilities and consumer citizenship in relation to the environment. Thus, if consumer education is well implemented it could assist individuals in influencing consumers to beat inflation. And this could lead to sustainable development.

Unfortunately, despite the role of consumer education in balancing sustainability and

resource management, studies show that implementing consumer education has been fraught with problems in Nigeria. Okeke (1992) observed that consumer education has not been popular in developing countries including Nigeria because not many people offer Home economics after junior secondary school. Another study also revealed that in Delta state, Nigeria, knowledge is emphasized rather than attitude and behaviour (Ukpore, 1996). Besides, how many home economists in Warri metropolis, Delta State, Nigeria apply the knowledge acquired from the study of consumer education? This study is essential because many women in Nigeria are poor and the chief managers of income in the family are women. These women may not be empowered economically, nor are they informed consumers.

Purpose of the study
The main purpose of this study was to examine influence of consumer Education on Strategies used by women in Warri metropolis, Delta State, Nigeria to cope with inflation.
Specifically the study sought to:
1.         Identify the strategies used by women to cope with inflation.
2.         To determine the influence of consumer education acquired at secondary and post secondary institution on strategies used by women in the study area to cope with inflation.

Research questions
The study was guided by the following research questions:
1.         What strategies do women use to cope with inflation?
2.         To what extent does consumer education learnt in senior secondary school, college of education and university influence the strategies used by women to cope with inflation?

Hypothesis
Ho: There is no significant difference among the mean ratings of strategies used by women in Warri Metropolis who studied consumer education at senior Secondary Schools (SSS), College of Education (COE) and University (UNI.)

Method
Design of Study

This is an ex post facto research. This design is conducted after the independent variable has already determined the natural course. The design was employed to seek the influence of consumer education (the independent variable) on the strategies used (dependent variable) by women in Warri Metropolis, Delta State to cope with inflation.

Population
 The target population comprises all women (civil servants) in Warri metropolis who had been exposed to consumer education through home economics. Warri is the economic nerve of Delta State, Nigeria and the most populated urban city. It is the major centre for oil production in Delta state.
Sample and sampling techniques

The survey involved a purposive sample of 182 women living in Warri metropolis, who had been exposed to consumer education through Home Economics. Of this sample, 84 women studied consumer education at Senior Secondary School, 43 at college of education and 55 at the University. Only Women were involved in this study because the social dimension of poverty is largely borne by women who are household heads of children from these homes (Okuneye, 2003).  Even in male headed families responsibilities on domestic welfare are shifted to women (Ologunde & Ako- Nia, 2005, Muhammad, 2003).

Instrument for data collection
A questionnaire titled ‘Influence of Consumer Education on Strategies used to cope with inflation (ICESCI)’ was used to collect data for this study. The questionnaire was designed after a thorough review of literature. The instrument was divided into two sections (A and B). Section A contained three statements on demographic background and section B had 13 strategies for

coping with inflation. The items were based on a 4 point scale of strongly agree (4 points), agree (3 points), disagree (2 points) and strongly disagree (1 point). The instrument was given content and face validity by three experts in Home economics.

The cronbach alpha was applied to the instrument to determine internal consistency of the instrument. Copies of the questionnaire were administered by a research assistant to 30 civil servants (15 secondary school teachers and 15 government officers working in the state ministry of education and Oshimili local Government Area) all in Asaba, the state capital. A coefficient alpha of 0.98 was
administered for the 13 items and was considered adequate for the study.

Method of data collection
Home Economic students in 300 level at Delta State University Abraka assisted in distribution and collection of the questionnaire in June, 2008. Out of 250 questionnaires distributed 212 were returned, but it was found that 30 persons had not been exposed to consumer education. Thus 182 copies of the questionnaire were used for the study.

Method of data analysis
The two research questions were answered with mean scores. Since the items were based on a scale of 4 points, the acceptable mean score was 2.50. Thus mean rating of 2.50 and above were considered as agreed, while items with mean rating below 2.50 were considered as disagreed. The hypothesis formulated to guide the study was tested at, 0.05 level of significance.

Result

Research question 1: What strategies do women use to cope with inflation?

                                                                     
Table 1: Mean ratings on strategies used by women to cope with inflation.

s/n

Strategies

SSS.
N=84

Decision

COE.
N=43

Decision

UNI.
N=55

Decision

Total mean

Saving strategies

 

1.

Save money in the bank

3.37

Agree

3.20

Agree

3.24

Agree

3.27

2.

Belong to a co-operative society

3.32

Agree

3.20

Agree

2.80

Agree

3.11

3.

Make contribution as thrifty saving

3.40

Agree

3.00

Agree

2.87

Agree

3.03

Investment strategies

 

4.

Invest money on stock broking, building

3.25

Agree

3.05

Agree

3.07

Agree

3.12

5.

Have an insurance policy

2.80

Agree

2.90

Agree

2.82

Agree

2.84

6.

Take loan

2.87

Agree

2.80

Agree

2.82

Agree

2.83

Buying techniques strategies

 

7.

Do comparative buying technique shopping even within the same stores

3.82

Agree

3.40

Agree

3.47

Agree

3.56

8.

Budget and buy for intended use

3.77

Agree

3.25

Agree

3.32

Agree

3.45

9.

Buy store brand items

3.47

Agree

2.87

Agree

3.10

Agree

3.15

10.

Avoid overpaying for convenience

3.60

Agree

2.94

Agree

3.25

Agree

3.11

11.

Buy basic styles in clothing to cut  down cost

3.57

Agree

3.02

Agree

3.05

Agree

3.02

12.

Buy in large quantities

3.87

Agree

3.25

Agree

3.37

Agree

3.49

13.

Take advantage of sales

3.57

Agree

2.97

Agree

3.2

Agree

3.25

Note:   SSS = Senior Secondary School; COE =  College of Education;  UNI = University
Acceptable mean = 2.50 and above

                                                          
Source: Field survey.


All the 13 items in table I for each of the three institutions scored above 2.50 which is the cut – off point. This indicates that most of the women use all the strategies suggested for coping with inflation. The total mean for the respondents showed that the major strategy used by the women is comparative shopping. This was followed by buying in bulk (Item 12). The least strategy used by the respondents is taking loan (items 5). There is need to improve on this especially during inflation.

Research question 2: To what extent does consumer education learnt in senior secondary school, college of education and university influence the strategies used by women to cope with inflation?


Table 2: Overall mean rating on strategies used to cope with inflation by women exposed to consumer education in three educational levels.

Educational Levels

Strategies (Clustered)

N of items

Mean (jkljkj)

SD

Secondary School

Savings

3

3.3633

.04041

 

Investment

3

2.9733

.24214

 

Buying  Techniques

7

3.6671

.15130

 

Total

13

3.4369

.32786

College of Education

Savings

3

3.1333

.11547

 

Investment

3

2.9167

.12583

 

Buying  Techniques

7

3.1014

.19735

 

Total

13

3.0662

.17826

University

Savings

3

2.9700

.23643

 

Investment

3

2.9033

.14434

 

Buying Technique

7

3.2514

.14871

 

Total

13

3.1062

.22600

 

                                                                                                           
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

In table 2, all the three educational levels were scored above the cut-off point of 2.50. This implies that to a great extent the consumer education learnt at either senior secondary school level, college of education or university influenced the strategies for coping with inflation. It also indicates, by mere observations that there is a difference among the means. In order to determine if the difference is statistically significant or not, the hypothesis was subjected to statistical testing.

Hypothesis
Ho: There is no significant difference among the mean ratings of strategies used by women in Warri Metropolis who studied consumer education at senior Secondary Schools (SSS), College of Education (COE) and University (UNI.)


Table 3: ANOVA Results for strategies used to cope with inflation by women exposed to consumer education in three educational levels.

Educational levels

Sum of Squares

df

Mean square

Calculated F value

Tabulated F value

 

0.05

0.01

Secondary School

Between Groups

1.032

2

.516

20.010

4.10

7.56

 

Within Groups

.258

10

.026

 

Total

1.290

12

College of Education

Between Groups

.089

2

.045

1.529

4.10

7.56

 

Within Groups

.292

10

.029

 

Total

.381

12

University

Between Groups

.327

2

.163

5.709

4.10

7.56

 

Within Groups

.286

10

.029

 

Total

.613

12

Overall ANOVA results

 

Between Groups

1.077

2

.538

8.485

0.05

0.01

Within Groups

2.284

36

.063

3.26

5.25

Total

3.361

38

 

 

 


In table 3 the overall calculated F is 8.485 while the tabulated F is 3.26 (P< .05). Since the F – calculated is higher than the F- tabulated, the null hypothesis is rejected. This implies that there is significant difference among the mean ratings of strategies used to cope with inflation by women in Warri metropolis who were exposed to consumer education at either senior secondary school level, College of Education or University. Only the calculated F (1.529) for College of Education is less than the tabulated F of 4.10 (P < .05). This indicates that consumer education did not greatly influence the strategies used by women from college of education to cope with inflation. The calculated F for Senior Secondary School and University were above the tabulated F. This shows that the women’s use of the suggested strategies these two institutions was greatly influenced by consumer education studied. However, the greatest influence was on respondents who studied consumer education in SSS level.

Discussion
In response to research question one 13 strategies which women in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria use to cope with inflation were identified. Most of the women used strategies such as savings, investment and good buying techniques to cope with inflation. They saved money in banks,

belonged to co-operative societies and made contribution as thrifty savings. They agreed that they invest money on stock broking, building and others, and they have insurance policy. Majority of the respondents; budgeted their income, and used good buying techniques. The women agreed they buy store brand items, avoid paying for convenience, buy basic styles in clothing and second hand cloths to reduce cost, buying in bulk and taking advantages of sales throughout the year. These results indicate that the women are using good strategies to cope with inflation. However, the least strategies used by the women was investment followed by savings. These two findings agree to some extent on US news and world report (1981) on how several people have been coping with inflation. In Illinois, Bob Manderville and his wife Alma, put the proceeds from their farm into a trust to defray education expenses for their children. They have also shifted funds out of savings accounts and into higher- yielding certificates of deposit and money- market funds. There is need therefore to encourage consumers especially women to embrace investments as it pays off in the future. Ukpore (2006) also suggested that the consumer should take a loan of any type because he obviously benefits if future inflation rate is higher than anticipated by creditors. This is best done by getting variables interest- rate, loan contracts, particularly if he happens to be taking out home mortgage. The results agree with Linck (1981) view that in order to cope with inflation, the individual must have perception of the future, develop self-discipline, clarify his goals and have greater skills in decision making.
 Furthermore, the results for question two showed that the strategies used by women who studied consumer education in senior secondary school, college of education and university were influenced by consumer education. By mere observation of the mean ratings, those who studied consumer education through home economics at senior secondary school level were more influenced than those who studied the course at colleges of education and university.

For the differences among the educational levels, the ANOVA results showed that the mean ratings for senior secondary schools and universities were found significant. College of education was not significant; this indicates that studying consumer education at a higher level is not a

criteria for applying the strategies for coping with inflation. This finding is in agreement with Ukpore (2006) observation that a little knowledge of consumer education is a sine qua non for every consumer as such knowledge goes a long way in rationalising the consumer behaviour of the individual.
    
Conclusion
Learning consumer education at any educational level could assist in resource management and sustainability as the individuals endeavour to use good strategies to cope with inflation. In this study those who were exposed to consumer education at senior secondary school had higher mean and ANOVA scores than those who learnt it at college of education and university.

The implication of this study is that more attention should be paid to consumer education through home economics in schools especially at the secondary school level and through extension education. According to Atiles and Cude (2002), through education and research the family and consumer sciences (home economics) profession has often addressed sustainability and resource development (human and non- human).
To ensure that more coping strategies to beat inflation are achieved, the following suggestions are made:

  • Home Economics is one of the pre- vocational subjects taught at Junior secondary school level to males and females. Consequently, a consumer education unit should be included in home economics curriculum at the junior secondary school to ensure that those who drop out after junior secondary school to ensure that those who drop out after junior secondary school or fail to continue with the subject have opportunity to become informed consumers and financial literate.
  • Home economists should educate women in their communities about income management and the importance of sustainability to their well being. This could be achieved through extension education in women groups in the church, clubs and other societies.
  • All consumers irrespective of their income should be encouraged to apply the strategies examined in this study in their respective homes.
  • The curriculum for colleges of education should be reviewed and effort made towards effective implementation of the course to be able to cope with economic factors.

 

References

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