Research Proposals

Attitudes of Undergraduate Youths toward Democratic Values Implication for Social Studies

Attitudes of Undergraduate Youths toward Democratic Values: Implication for Social Studies

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1.1          Background to the Study

Social studies education helps to produce effective citizens, which is a basic requirement for nation building. This according to Mezieobi (1992) means: sensitivity of one’s environment active participation in the polity. Democratic oriented mind and practices, willingness to assume and perform civic responsibilities. Furthermore, obedience to the laws of the land. However, one being equipped with intellectual skills essential for rational decision making and sound judgment. Defence of one’s right, ability to understand, respect and accommodate other individuals, habits essential for effective social living, harmonious co-existence with other members and groups in one polity.

Indeed, citizens are the hearts and soul of democracy. Hence, there must be active and informed involvement of the people at all levels of governance. As willing participants in defining and maintaining their democracy. Certainly, the youths of any society are a potential force to reckon with in that society, Nigeria not exempted.  They constitute a large chunks of the decision making groups in the society.


The Nigerian youths form the bulk of the citizens which is the decision making groups in our democracy. In line with this assertion, NERDC (2005) agreed that, The role of the youths as electorates does not just stop at voting.  The youths must constantly engage in the political process in order to strengthen democracy.  Thus, the youths must ensure that government policies truly represent people’s best interest and not those of a handful of rulers.

Corroborating the above assertion, NOA (2006) posited that, For democracy to succeed, citizens must be active, not passive. Because the success or failure of the government is their collective responsibility.  The citizens must ensure that they shape the government of their choosing.

The youths can individually, collectively and through various civil society groups get mobilized and involved in citizenship and governance by joining political parties and contesting elective offices wherein they can influence government policies and programmes.


Attitudes of Undergraduate Youths toward Democratic Values Implication for Social Studies

To participate well in democratic activities, the youths must possess a good grapse of democratic values which will aid, guide and direct their conducts in the discharge of their civic responsibilities.  In line with this, NOA(2006) asserts that: “For democracy to be sustained, it is essential that citizenry possess the requisite skills, demonstrate the values, and display the behaviours that accord democracy”.  That is democracy is nurtured and sustained only when democratic values are rooted in the minds and actions of citizens (NOA, 2006).

Ojo in Iyoha, Aghayere and Oviasuyi (2003) advanced that “it is required at the level of both elites and the youths that attitude and behaviour supportive of democratic consolidation be appropriately developed”.  Thus, it is crystally clear that the possession of democratic values is not only essential for youths to participate in democracy but are essential for them to participate well and positively. CIVITAS (1991) and Avaro (2001) defined democratic values “as the fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles which guide the democratic government put in place in a particular society”.  They are ethos that regulate the extend, level and involvement of participants in a democracy.

CIVITAS and Avaro went ahead to identify and itemize life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. Also, the common good, justice, equality, diversity, truth. Popular sovereignty and patriotism as fundamental beliefs.  And rule of law, separation of powers, representative government. Check and balances, individual rights, freedom of religion, federalism and civil control of military as constitutional principles, both making up the American core democratic values.

Most of these core democratic values identified by CIVTAS and Avaro were derived from the speeches of American presidents, chiefly by Thomas Jefferson. Here in Nigeria, it need to be pointed out that there is no unanimous agreement as to what constitute our democratic values or that there is no single document that contain such values as in the case of the U.S and other older democracies.

What we can distill as our democratic values are excerpts from our constitution, speeches of past leaders and governments and writings contained in some available literature.  A thorough search and comparison of findings with that of the U.S core democratic values.


The researcher concludes that the following values of happy life, freedom, equality(one-man-one vote), justice, toleration of diversity. Unity(national integration), national loyalty(as against sectional loyalty), rule of law, separation of powers. Checks and balances, transparency, patriotism, dignity of human person, representative government. In addition, self-reliance, due process, electoral credibility(citizens vote must count), common good(acting in the best interest). Also, popular consent, supremacy of the people, toleration of opposition and legitimacy are Nigeria’s core democratic values.

While the underlisted values of honesty, discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, humaneness, mutual respect, orderliness etc. Should remain simply as democratic values or civic values or traits. That make democracy possible (FGN, 1999; Ojo in Iyoha et al, 2003; NERDC, 2005 & Nnamdi, 2009).


So the decision of the youths to participate or not to participate. Depends on their awareness adherence and internationalization of these democratic values. Thus, this has serious consequences on democracy and the general polity.  And it is in turn determined by the factors of or the interplay of political culture, civic or citizenship education and the political experiences of the society in question.

Ojo in Iyoha, et al (2003) advanced that “the lack of development of democratic attitude (values) is one major obstacle that has mar democratic consolidation in Nigeria.  Thus, it is the obstacle to youths positive participation in our democracy”.  However, Nigerian youths have contributed immensely to the growth and development of their various communities and the country in general.  Their struggle and move have always been a sacrificial one which outcomes are not only their selfish interest alone but for the generality of the people (Aghayere in Iyoha, et al, 2003).


Aghayere (2007) further asserts that,Nigerian youths, particularly Nigerian students, have been known for their active participation in nation building.  Their sustained struggles and agitation against colonial exploitation and domination of the political system, amongst others. Paved the way for the termination of colonial rule and attainment of independence.

The youths also played important roles of facilitating the democratization of Nigeria (demilitarization of Nigeria). Their selfless activities largely contributed to the enthronement of democratic rule that culminated in the 1979 and 1983 civilian rule in Nigeria.  The youths protest that greeted the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election cannot go unmentioned.


Contributing to this, NOA (2006) also identified other areas of youths positive participation in democratic governance.  These it outlined to include the following activities, Meeting with political officials to express their concerns and desires. Petitioning and demonstrating peacefully, voting, registering, contesting elective offices, demanding accountability from elected representatives.

Scrutinizing and criticizing government policies, writing articles in newspapers, boycotts and labour unions strikes. On the other hand, most of the actions and involvement of Nigerian youths have portrayed negative influence on our democracy and the polity in general.


The attendant effect has been lack of popular participation, and disengagement of many Nigerians, particularly youths, from political processes.  These development suggest weak civil support for democratic values and institutions. The focus of this study is to ascertain the extent to which youths are aware/unaware. Have positively/negatively internalized these democratic values in the discharge of their civic duties and more importantly. The extent to which social studies education can help to learn or unlearn these values in youths.

Civic and citizenship education, which are vital aspects of social studies is essential in the inculcation and entrenchment of these vital knowledge. Values and actions in citizenry.  This brings to mind the definition of social studies given by Kissock (1981). When he defined social studies as a programme of study which a society use to instill in students the knowledge, skills, values, and actions it considers important. According to the relationship human beings have with each other, their world and themselves (Iyamu and Onyeson, 1991).


The age at which such is reached varies from society to society.  But subscribing to the argument of Agbebaku  and Agbebaku(2007) that, “youths in Nigeria are people normally between the ages of 18 to 45 years”. And that of 45; it is the peak where people still demonstrate youthfulness and energy for civic activities.  Therefore, for the purpose of this study, Nigerian undergraduate youths will mean persons between the ages of 18 and 45 years who are currently undergoing their first degree programmes in any Nigerian universities.


1.2          Statement of the Problem

From experience with youths during elections and civic activities, the extent to which youths are aware of, understand and/or have internalized these values is not certain.  This has serious implication for social studies education, our democracy and the Nigerian nation as a whole. The end result is bad leadership/government, high number of electoral cases in court, lack of basic infrastructure, unemployment, and underdevelopment.  Recently, the National Orientation Agencies, has embarked on mass mobilization to raise people’s awareness of democratic values in the country.  Even at that, what can we say about the present perception of Nigerian youths of democratic values?  How much does social studies have to offer in promoting these values in the youths?


1.3          Purpose of the Study

Specifically, it is to find out the attitude of youths toward:

the virtues of respect and tolerance while indulging in/carrying out political activities;

the virtues of honesty and patriotism while discharging their civic duties;

transparency and following due process in their civic practices;

the provision of justice for every citizens in our democracy;

equality of every citizens in our democracy;

the principle of one-man-one vote in the political process;

freedom of action in the democratic process.


1.4          Research Questions

Attitudes of Undergraduate Youths toward Democratic Values Implication for Social Studies

1.5          Hypotheses

H0:The Attitude of students in public universities towards democratic values do not differ significantly from those of the private universities.

H0:The attitude of full-time students towards democratic values do not differ significantly from those of part-time students.


1.6          Significance of the Study

The study will specifically expose what social studies as a school subject has done so far in terms of citizenship transmission. Producing citizens (youths) that are civically conscious, responsible and competent.  And the lapses in the school subject why it is not living up to expectation.

The work will also be useful to curriculum developers when deciding which subjects should feature as core. Also at which level should they feature and when should they not.  That social studies education terminating in JSS III in our school system before now has done great disservice to good citizenship transmission.

Finally, it will help to correct the attitude of indifference and general apathy of many Nigerian youths to electoral process and democracy in general.  That is to sensitize the youths to be a part and parcel of the mechanism. Which makes and shapes the decisions and policies that determine their future. Rather than living it in the hands of few elites who are selfish and parochial in their judgments.  And why acting in this capacity to imbibe the democratic ethos that ensure electoral credibility and democratic consolidation.


1.7       Limitation of the study

Some of the major constraints the researchers encountered in putting up this research include lack of time, lack of willingness to give information by respondent and also limited resources.

Joselyn Nya

My Name is Joselyn Nya A Publisher in Project Boss Team. I'm a Nigerian I'm a graduate/Educational Researcher. Project Boss Team. We are the best for Project materials and project writing services. Email:

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