Family Life Education as a Foundation for Human Social Security

    Being a paper presented at First International Conference on Human Security and the Challenge of Innovative Education (1st ICE), held at Main Auditorium, Sokoto State University, between 8th and 12th March, 2016

    Abu-Ubaida Sani


    Significance of family life education on human security stands the motive of this article. Moreover, effort is made to delve into conceptual notions of human security. It also presents an overview on positive effects of family life education. In Nigeria today, human security faces number of challenges, among which are; poor governance, hunger and unemployment, terrorism and environmental factors among others. The paper accounts for ways in which family life education can be of significant importance in promoting and maintaining human security. Finally, the article suggests ways of utilizing - as an objective of family life education - striving towards developing human security. For instance, providing effective awareness of family life education and it inclusion in nation’s curriculum to be taught in some levels of education, especially higher education, among others.

    Key words: family, family life education, human security


    Incorporating three independent words of which each has a number of meanings, especially depending on the context it appears, does not encumber one from sensing the meaning of the phrase “family life education,” at first encounter. However, the partial - if at all - emphasis and attention given to family life education makes it strange to many young educators in countries like Nigeria. The concept is defined by National Council on Family Relations (NCFR, 2009), as the effort to strengthen individual and family life through family perspective.

    On the other hand, human security is defined as an educational process designed to assist people in their, physical, social, emotional and moral development as they prepare for adulthood, marriage, parenthood, ageing as well as their social relationships in the socio-cultural context of the family and the society.” (NERDC in Komolafe,  2004)

    Considering the above assertion, family life education can be seen as any activity which aimed at imparting ideas, information and awareness concerning family relationships as well as to increase the tendency of individuals to approach their relationships with greater responsibility.

                Though family life education has been in existence since time immemorial, it had been informally until 1980s when a form of family life education entered public policy in the U.S. Hatch Act of 1987. The early form of family life education centered around the field of ‘home economics’ and training of practical home-based skills in areas such as food preparation and sewing. Family life education moved into the wide-spread public awareness in the early 20th century by offering gardening, home canning and nutrition information to homemakers (Chant, 1983; Bredehoft, 2003; Edwards, 2003; Adams & Baronberg, 2005). In Nigeria however, population education was introduced and stated in the National Policy on Education in 1981. That was with the view of making general education more responsive to the socio-economic needs of the individuals and the country in general (UNICAF, 2014). Moreover, the English, science, social studies and agricultural science courses already have some components of Population/Family Life Education (Oroge, 1993).

                However, tantamount with quotation of NCRF (National Council on Family Relations), “The objective of family life education is to enrich the quality of individuals and family life.” The statement thus stands the preamble of the phrase; ‘Family life education’.

    The concept of human security remains paradigm that explains global vulnerabilities. Its exponents go against the traditional notion of ‘national security.’ It argues that the appropriate referent for ‘security should be the individual rather than the state (UNDP, 1994).

                Number of definitions provides an overview of the varying usage of the concept “human security.” However, there is no universally single accepted definition for the concept ‘Human security. Human security can be defined as one of the foundational conditions of being human, including both (1) the sustainable protection and provision of the material conditions for meeting the embodied needs of people, and (2) the protection of the variable existential conditions for maintaining a dignified life. Within this definition, it then makes sense that the core focus of human security endeavors should be on the most vulnerable. It makes sense that risk management should be most responsive to immediate events or processes that have both an extensive and intensive impact in producing material and existential vulnerabilities of people in general or a category of persons across a particular locale (James, 2014).

    Human security take its shape from the human being: the vital core that is to be protected. Institutions that undertake to protect human security will not be able to promote every aspect of human well-being. But at least they must protect this core of people’s lives (Sabina, 2003: 2)

    Human security is defined as “describing a condition of existence which entails basic material needs, human dignity, including meaningful participation in the life of the community, an active and substantive notion of democracy from the local to the global.” (Thomas, 2000). King & Murray ( 2001) summarized the concept of human security as expectation of years of life without experiencing the state of generalized poverty Generalized poverty, as use in the definition, refers to falling below critical thresholds in any domain of well-being.

    On the other hand, there is said to be human insecurity in the presence of unemployment, fear and distrust in government include insufficient aid, services, and poverty that requires children to work for income or in the home to support family (Karbalai, 2005). It is absence of safety; presence of danger, hazard, uncertainty, lack of protection; and lack of truth among people (Ewetan and Urchie, 2014). Beland (2005) refers human insecurity as a state of fear or anxiety due to absence or lack of protection. Achhumba, Ighomereho and Akpan-Robaro (2013) associated insecurity with danger or state of being expose to risk or anxiety (Bakwai & Sarkin-Kebbi, 2015). Therefore, human insecurity is the opposite of human security. Thus, feeling of uncertainty or being in danger, threat, or lack of confidence about oneself (Chiaha, 2013).

    Seven types of human security formed its components (components of human security) (Oludimu, 2014). Yasin,  (2015), referred these as elements of security. They are:

    1. Economic security (e.g., assurance of a basic income),

    2. Food security (e.g., access to food),

    3. Health security (e.g., access to health care and protection from diseases),

    4. Personal security (e.g., freedom from threats by the state, groups, or individuals),

    5. Community security (e.g., freedom from harmful community practices),

    6. Political security (e.g., enjoyment of human rights, and freedom from political oppression) and

    7. Environmental security (e.g., protection from harmful effects of environmental degradation) (Oludimu, 2014).

    Human security is therefore beyond depending citizens from external and internal threats or violence. Rather, it involves ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’. (Oludimu, 2007; Akokpari, 2007; Yasin, 2015).

    Objectives and Positive Effects of Family Life Education

    The goals family life education strives to achieve according to NERDC (1988) are as follows:

    1-      Family size and family welfare

    2-      Improve quality of life

    3-      Responsible parenthood

    4-      Delayed marriage

    5-      Birth spacing and good health for mother and baby

    6-      Breast feeding

    7-      Population related beliefs and value (NERDC, 1988; Komolafe, 2004; Jibes, 2012).

    However, if the attainment of the above objectives is to its fullest expectation, the expected positive outcomes could be – among others – the following:

    i.        Family life education helps the young people to solve family problems.

    ii.      It helps the youth in their growing stage to know about the social, emotional and physical changes that take place in this stage.

    iii.    It develops the knowledge about different roles, function and maintenance of family.

    iv.    It provides knowledge about maintaining good relationship among the members of the family and other people of the society. It helps to make the family happy and prosperous.

    v.      It develops the knowledge, values and the skills, which are necessary for adulthood, marriage and parenthood as well as for participation in community life.

    vi.    It helps to deal with the changes in the adolescents' lives in their society.

    vii.  It helps them to make wise decision and communicate effectively with others about all matters concerning the social behavior. It makes people aware that they are becoming sexually mature and leads them to understand the sex attitudes and behaviors (Edwards, 2003; Komolafe, 2004; Jibes, 2012).

    It can be concluded here that, if family life education were fully justified, there would be every tendency of getting ‘individual and family wellbeing’ enriched and strengthened. Perhaps, as Thomas and Arcus (1992) considered that as the main purpose of family life education.

    Challenges of Family Life Education

    The challenges of family life education include:

    i.                    The internet and the World Wide Web present new challenges for family life education. These technologies are likely to replace a form of traditional family life education. Important issues require attention on the reliability and validity of the information available and its effectiveness.

    ii.                  The emergence of such things as computer-mediated relationships and sexualized internet use requires rethinking.

    iii.                The programmes by themselves may not be sufficient unless their development and implementation are supported by social and educational policies and political decisions.

    iv.                Qualified educators are central to the success of family life education, because these individuals bear major responsibilities for shaping educational experience and interacting with participants. There is seems to be lack of adequate qualified personals in the area of family life education in Nigeria.  

    v.                  Inadequate financing is another challenge of family life education. The programmes are sometimes only available to those who can afford it, perhaps unavailable to those who need it the most (Yasin, 2015)

    Factors Affecting Human Security

                There are several factors affecting human security in the world. In the United Kingdom for instance, University of Cambridge organized an international seminar in 2003, which aimed at delving the root causes of human insecurity. The overwhelming focus of the deliberation was on terrorism as threat to human security. Contrarily, this paper will explore the causes of human insecurity (in Nigeria) in its broad sense. Thus, as the phenomenon – insecurity – has been extended to cover other domains including economic and politics among others (Robinson, 2005; Udoh, 2015). These include:

    i.        Poverty and Unemployment: The rise in crime wave in Nigeria since the mid-1990s to date have been product of unemployment, economic decline, and social inequality, which are upheld by insufficient and corrupt police and custom forces. (Stock, in Udoh 2015). Africa in general suffers poverty  (Akokpari, 2007). Nigeria, even though the biggest oil producer in Africa, is among the poorest countries in the world. (Ajodo-Adebanjoko & Walter, 2014). However, lasting peace can only be achieved when majority of the people are able to break through the shackles of poverty (Enu & Ugwu, 2011). Nonetheless, poverty is consequence of unemployment among others including bad governance. (Ajodo-Adebanjoko & Walter, 2014).

    ii.      Wrong Political Ambition and Bad Governance: This is a typical Nigerian situation (Enu & Ugwu, 2011). Guest (2004) argues that, bad leadership and governance cause the economic crises of Africa in general. Attempt of understanding human insecurity often focus on the domestic politics of states (Akokpari, 2007). The twin concept of disempowerment and marginalization of communities are at the heart of the problem. The underlying causes of many forms of human insecurity are an absence of the capacity to influence change at a personal or community level, exclusion from voting or participation in local and national decision making and economic or social marginalization (Robinson, 2005).

    iii.    Environmental Factors: The threats to human security posed by this phenomenon is dare as over 70% of sub-sahara Africans depend on the forest for livelihood (Akokpari, 2007). Climatic change has the potential to affect any part of the globe. In West Africa especially the Sahel, temperatures have increased more sharply than the global trend. Climate change is no longer just an environmental issue but a development concern. It has become a major threat to the sustainable development of many developing countries (Oludimu, 2014).

    iv.    Desire to Actualize Ethnic Agenda: This phenomenon is common in Nigeria. The case of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the East, Oodua People’s Congress (OPEC) in the West, Boko Haram in the North, Bakasi Boys, Fulani Herdsmen and Vigilante Groups all over the country are instances of agitation in desire that may be associates with ethnicity (Udoh, 2015).

    v.      Militancy and Terrorism: Terrorism is a source of human insecurity for the simple fact that it breads fear, uncertainty, destruction and death (Akokpari, 2007). Apebende, Abe & Osam in Kpee, Uchendu & Bright (2014) hold that violence of any type has unforeseen consequences on families, communities and nations in general. The term, militancy, become pronounced in Nigeria when MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) took arms against government exploitation and environmental degradation of their area due to oil exploration. The movement of Bokoharam in the North part of the country opened another chapter of militancy in Nigeria (Udoh, 2015). The activities of kidnappers, armed robbers, and terrorist groups in the country have led to the loss of infrastructures. (Kpee, Uchendu & Bright, 2014).

    However, other cause of human insecurity includes; permeable borders, religious extremism, population displacement and food insecurity among others. (Gary, & Christopher, 2001; Akokpari 2007; Okereke, 2012; Udoh, 2015).

    Family Life Education and Human Security

    The ways that parents shape their children’s development have been a long-standing source of theorising by scientists, philosophers and parents themselves (Taheri, 2015). The contribution of family life education to human security can never be over estimated. Many aspects or causes of human insecurity could be at least minimized – if not get rid of – with the help of family life education. BeIlo, (n.d.) commented that, family life education is pertinent and basic to the survival of the individual and the society. Human insecurity is concerned with our refusal to confront the millions of avoidable death of women and children each year. Those missing millions are rarely the subject of conventional security studies, yet such avoidable deaths are vital part of the notion of ‘security’. (Robert, 2007). However, family life education could be useful in the control of crises by bringing up of youth with humane personality from the initial. This is because; parents and families have the most direct and lasting impact on children’s learning and development of social competence. When parents are involved, children exhibit more positive attitudes and behaviors and feel more comfortable in new settings. (NDPC, in Adams & Baronberg 2005). According to Abdulkalam (n.d.), “If a country to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are; the father, the mother and the teacher.” Educationist and psychologies in different parts of the globe, including Nigeria, have conducted researches on home background factors and their influence on child performance (Ojjimba, 2013). Family is the traditional socializing agent and therefore, serves as a social mirror to their children. There is then the need to educate parents on the need to create an educationally conducive atmosphere that can provide them with self-satisfaction as well as freedom from fear and freedom from want.

    Secondly, since human security includes “Freedom from want” (Yasin, 2015), a state has to tackle the problems of unemployment and underemployment to insure human security in this concern. Human insecurity can code from any source that increases the risk that people will remain in or enter into a state of generalized poverty. Since generalized poverty is a state that is often difficult to exit, existing in this state is one of the major threats to human security-that is to being in generalized poverty in the future. Others include crime, military conflict (group violence), nonpeaceful transfers of governmental power, diseases and other public health problems (Gary, K. & Christopher, 2001) Here, family life education is of significant importance, because; “Home is the foundation of stable individuals and families, strong community and competitive state.” (House of Charity, 2014).

                Research has shown that ineffective parenting may hamper children’s development and lead to child behavior problems. Without prompt intervention, it may result in adolescent conduct and mental health problems that are associated with high social and economic costs (FCS, 2008). Kieran, Jonathan & Trutz (2003: 70) hold that:

    The core aspects of what makes a person feel well – in terms of their physical, psychological and relational well-being – are intricately bound up with family processes and experiences.

    Furthermore, two factors determine the well-being of a family according to Kieran, Jonathan & Trutz (2003). The two are; the way in which conflict is handled within the family and the personality traits of family members. hunger, diseases, poor education, poverty and the scarcity of water are consequences of rapid population growth. However, family life education could be said to have, as importance, positive effect on human security. This is because; family life education helps in regulating family size and family welfare. (Komolafe, 2004; Oludimu, 2014).

    The mothers who received family education were more involved in their children’s’ education and that their children were more socially competent. These children exhibit significantly fewer conduct problems, less noncompliance and less negative effect (Webster-Stralton in Taheri, 2015). There is direct significant relationship between the impression of family life education and the mothers attitude concerning their educable mentally retarded children. (Advandi in Taheri, 2015). More so, whith with the knowledge of family life and relationship, we can live more secured, safe and healthy (Olson & Defrain, 2003).

    Moreover, through family life education, citizens are encouraged to properly space their children among families with a view to protecting the health of mothers and children. Parents are helped to understand the value of having only those children whom they can provide adequate care, nutrition, housing,  clothing and education. Perhaps, and that is necessary in insuring human security (Komolafe,  2004; Jibes, 2012).

    Similarly, family life education has encouraged active support researches into family planning techniques and other studies, bearing directly or indirectly on the improvement of family health and family welfare in Nigeria. That is indeed of much effect on the attempt to insuring human security (Ogata in Komolafe, 2004; Jibes, 2012).

                Unresolved problems between children and their parents have a negative impact on the mother-child relationship and a particularly strong effect on children’s psychological disturbance. It is however observed that where mothers withdraw from conflict in the couple relationship, and where they comply with their partner’s demands, this seems to protect children from the potentially negative effects of witnessing conflict between their parents, reducing psychological disturbance and increasing children’s satisfaction with life (Kieran, Jonathan & Trutz , 2003). Family life education helps in minimizing cultural practices that are harmful to physical and psychological health of individuals. Some traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, norms that favor early marriage, and fewer reproductive health options for women than for men, have been harmful to young people’s health. Female genital mutilation, the most serious of these, is deeply entrenched by strong cultural dictates, but it can cause severe physical and psychological damage (UNFPA in WHO).




    Family life education is capable of making important contribution towards strengthening families to fulfill their significant role as the basic unit of the society. Family life education is of paramount importance, especially now that the nation’s population becomes more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and language. It could make great difference on human security. The content of family life education is indispensible when it comes to living a better life and promoting human security. ‘Family life education’ promotes freedom to choose parenthood and enriches human life among the members of the family.

    Government as well as individuals needs to pay attention on it to improve good family relationships that can lead to national development.


    1-      Family life education should be incorporated in the nation’s curriculum to be thought in some levels of education, especially higher education.

    2-      Family life education should be though in form of semi-formal or adults education to uneducated people of older age, perhaps, especially in rural areas.

    3-      Incentives in form of reinforcement should be given to those who accept the teachings to arise more of their interest to it.

    4-      The contents to be studied (in Family Life Education) should include; effects of family size on standard of living, relationship between family members as well as between them and another family.

    5-       Adolescence Growth and Development is an important component of family life education. There should be reinvigorated educational efforts in areas like self-understanding, relationship with parents, roles and responsibilities, emotion and stress management, dating and courtship, adolescence growth and development in sexuality, etc.

    6-      Family life education should pay more attention of moral issues and cultural values. That will help in promoting a society, which is morally sound.

    7-      There should be effective awareness of family life education by the means of mass media, religion institutions and community leaders.


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