THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 8, No. 1, 2010
The Liminality of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Behaviour in Ibadan, Southern Nigeria
Oka Obono1 & Modupe Mohammed2
1Sociology Department University of Ibadan, Nigeria
2Centre for Development and Population Activities Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
Most investigations and programmes addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Nigeria tend to concentrate on the untenable dichotomy between in-school and out-of-school adolescents, as though there were no intermediary phase between these cohorts. The studies proceed as though the identities and behaviour of adolescents can be understood exclusively in terms of the formal structures of modern education. The present paper examines adolescent sexual and reproductive health among 1,458 in-school, out-of-school and between-school respondents in Ibadan metropolis. It concludes that this latter liminal phase in the educational lives of adolescents – the between-school phase – is distinct enough to generate its own special vulnerabilities. Focus group discussions were held with discussants from the three groups. They show that between-school male adolescents (i.e. those seeking entry into higher educational institutions or who aspire to do so) are more sexually active than the other two groups. Condom use and contraceptive knowledge are also lowest among this cohort. Between-school adolescents have poorer health seeking behaviour and partner communication patterns than in-school and out-of-school adolescents. Results like these point to disturbances in social structure, the emergence of an anti-structure, and the dynamics of vulnerability associated with liminal lives in a predominantly indigenous metropolis. They provide evidence of the need to expand programme focus in adolescent health research, advocacy and intervention and to direct policy attention to adolescents living in a phase further complicated by difficult choices.
Keywords: adolescent sexuality, reproductive behaviour, liminality, Ibadan