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Learners cannot be left out as a contributing factor to their own underachievement as they play a vital role in their studies. One issue in schools is the contribution peer pressure has to a student’s academic success or failure. Engaging one’s self with the wrong company at school or even outside of school may have a negative influence on one’s academic performance. As a student if you have a bad friend, their negative influences will contribute to your academic success. When you interact with new or different people you may change your attitude or behaviour to fit in with the group. If a learner joins a group of peers who do not prioritise their education or value learning and performing well, the learner will under achieve on purpose just to follow in the groups footsteps. These same peers may introduce learners to drugs and alcohol.
Substance use and abuse has risen amongst learners in school. There is a high usage of drugs and alcohol in our youth today especially scholars. The use of these substances can cause harm to the user’s mental and physical health. Your brain is your most important tool for education and these substances cause damage to it. Groups of students can often be seen smoking in and out of schools. This consumption of harmful substances may change a learner’s behaviour and cause them to act out. If learners consume substances before school or during breaks they might not be able to concentrate or participate in class. This causes them to lose out on important information.
Poor home backgrounds and conflicts within family also causes harm to a learner’s ability to perform well. Many underachievers come from a poor family, where they will have no access to extra work through computers or the internet. These students may also be suffering from hunger and usually go to school on an empty stomach, this causes a lack concentration in class or when studying. Their families also suffer from instability in terms of financial concern, domestic issues and pressure at work. As a result education becomes less of a priority and supporting the family becomes the main priority, this can lead to child headed households. Learners from these poor home backgrounds rarely perform better than learners from wealthy backgrounds. Learners who suffer from poverty concentrate more on surviving in each day rather than their education. Family conflicts such domestic violence or even verbal fighting between family members can cause anxiety and depression in learners. The behaviour of the learner may change, becoming disruptive or aggressive and when the teacher is teaching in the classroom this learners mind will be somewhere else.
Laziness and absenteeism by students is a key factor in underachieving. Learners may be absent for several days at a time from school or even absconding from classes. There could be many reasons for this namely, a student falling ill or just plain laziness on their part. When a learner is absent from school the teachers do not stop their lessons, they continue as planned irrespective whether the learner is present or not. If a learner is absent they should go to their teachers and find out what they’ve missed but this isn’t the case as learners don’t care and show no interest at all. A lazy learner will just sit and relax without a care in the world.

The use of social media has increased exponentially and the role of social media in student’s lives can be positive but also negative. Social media has a huge influence on learners be it television, computers or social networking sites, it hugely impacts a learner’s life. Currently the favoured forms of social media among the youth include Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other similar apps. Learners spend and waste of their time busy on social networks rather than studying. This time spent is for non-educational purposes when they could be focussing on studying. Many learners are using their cell phones in classes rather than paying attention to the teacher or doing their work. This causes the learner to fall behind in class. Learners search the internet for information that is not relevant to their learning and does not add value to their academic life. The overuse of social media can make a learner think about a picture or video they’ve seen online rather than pay attention in class. Learners may also find “blessers” on social media, these people can have a negative influence on their lives and they’ll be a constant distraction to the learner.
Teenage pregnancy also adds to poor academic performance, more so to female learners than male learners. Teenagers who fall pregnant during their school year will have a greater risk of performing poorly in school. A pregnant teenager will have to have regular check-ups at clinics or hospitals and this reduces the amount of time spent in class absorbing knowledge. This learner will miss out on important work and won’t be able to interact in class if she has questions or difficulties understanding. A teenage mother will have a poor academic record because her responsibility will be to her child and to look after it thus making her have less time to concentrate on her studies. This becomes a burden to the learner and her education becomes less of a priority.
Another major issue for learners is their low self-esteem. This can be seen when learners hide themselves from social interactions and class activities. They seem to avoid trying new things as well as trying new challenges. A common problem for a learner with low self-esteem would be their ability to ask question in class. If they don’t understand something they will be too afraid to ask the teacher to explain it again, this shows a lack of confidence. The learner may go through the entire lesson not knowing what it’s about and during exams it’ll be difficult for them to answer questions if they didn’t even understand the same questions in class.

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