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This study was designed to examine effects of availability and use of laboratories on students’ performance in science subjects in community secondary schools. The study was conducted in six community secondary schools in Kinondoni municipality. The study examined the availability of laboratories, examine the use of laboratories, and assess the availability of science teachers, and science teachers ’perceptions how laboratories availability influence students’ performance in science subjects. The problem was that students’ performance in science subjects is appalling in community secondary schools. Survey research design was used and the study employed quantitative approaches where observation, checklist, school records and likert scales were used for data collection. The sample of the study included 6 heads of schools, 6 schools and 36 science teachers. The data were analyzed using frequency, percentages and ratio. Findings revealed that schools did not have laboratories; instead they had science rooms which lacked laboratory space. It was noted that apparatus and chemicals were either insufficient or absent in all sampled schools; instead schools improvised those equipment by using locally available materials in their environment. Experiments were done in large groups with little students. There was an acute shortage of science teachers. It was recommended that, policy makers need to ensure that students enrolment should match with the availability of laboratory facilities, more laboratory need to be built in schools and more science teachers be trained

             CHAPTER ONE

1.1 Background to the Problem

This study dealt with an assessment of the effect of availability and use of laboratory on student performance in science subjects in Community Secondary school (CSS) in Nigeria. The science subjects involved in the study are Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The chapter comprises of the background, statement of the problem, purpose and objective of the study, research tasks and questions, significance of the study, delimitation of the study and conceptual framework.

A good system of education in any country must be effective on two fronts:  First, the quantitative level is used to ensure access to education and quality in distribution and allocation of resources to various segments of the society, and second, on the qualitative level to ensure that the country produces   the skills needed for rapid social and economic development (United Republic of Nigeria, 1995).The development of Universal Primary Education(UPE) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has drawn widespread international support because of its perceived role in poverty reduction (United Nations 2008).

The expansion of secondary school education in developing countries is now seen as a major priority due to its importance in linking primary education to tertiary education and further professional development as well as its role in responding to the demands of globalization and its potential to build skills for transforming livelihoods (World Bank, 2005; Association of Development of Education in Africa, (ADEA), 2007 &African Human Development Department, (AHDD), 2007).

The challenges of education development in SSA at the beginning of the twenty first century are unprecedented. Faced with persistent gaps in coverage of primary schooling, almost all countries have launched major efforts to ensure that all children will have the opportunity to complete a primary education of acceptable quality (Mosha, 2012). At the same time, governments are committed to expand access to further learning. The Education Sector Development Programme (EDSP-2001) implementation of free primary education to achieve Education for All (EFA, 2000) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has exerted pressure on government to expand chances for secondary education. The achievement of UPE has translated into greater demands on human resources for the education sector. This has resulted in increased demand for teachers, and graduate teachers in particular.

In response, the government of Nigeria launched the Secondary Education Development Plan  attempting to expand secondary education (URT, 2004).  The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) provided guidelines for establishing new secondary schools whether privately or community owned. The educational inspectors used these criteria for assessing whether the new schools could be registered or not. One of the required facilities are two laboratories with furniture in each all school. 

The government of  Nigeria aimed at having at least one secondary school in each ward, and the number of community owned secondary schools increased remarkably from 1202  in 2004 to 3216 in 2010 (URT,2010). On the one hand, this increased number of secondary schools in the country is a great achievement. But on the other hand, it is a challenge for the government on how the increased number of schools and students maintains the quality of education. Despite the guidelines, most of these schools neither have proper laboratories nor laboratory equipment for conducting practical lessons for science subjects (Kibga, 2004, 2013). The main focus in this study was to examine the effects of availability and use of laboratories on student performance in science subjects at the ordinary level secondary education.

Expanding access, equity and improving quality and relevance at the same time are twin challenges faced by the secondary school education system throughout the developing countries (World Bank, 2005, Chimombo, 2005, Babaci& Geo-JaJa, 2011). After the implementation of SEDP, the increase of community secondary schools and the expansion of enrolment of students could not match with the demand for science teachers. Science teachers leading the demand in the year 2008 there were shortage of science subjects, shortage teachers in Biology subject was 3672 teachers which is equivalent to 71%, in Chemistry subject was 3705 teachers which was equivalent to 72% and in Physics was 5212 teachers which is equivalent to 75% (Omari, 2013). This situation does not give hope in the near future that secondary schools will have enough science teachers and student will be able to learn science as indicated in the syllabus. This implies that unless the government and other stakeholders find alternative ways of training more science teachers for secondary education, these few available teachers will not meet the demand of secondary education even with the current teaching and learning resources.

Various studies have been conducted on the problem relating to science education delivery in Nigerian secondary schools, in which availability and use of laboratories is highlighted (Chonjo, Osaki, Posi & Mrutu, 1996; Mafumiko, 1998; Chonjo & Welford 2001; Richard 2005, Kibga, 2004). These studies established that among the problems associated with science education delivery are lack of resources such as laboratories, equipment, apparatus, inadequate teachers and inadequacy of technical support in laboratory based teaching. This may cause schools not to properly play the role of delivering science education. Science teaching requires special approach in laboratories instruction skills, management skills and laboratory procedures such as handling of chemicals and repair of equipment. Furthermore, Kibga (2004) found that practical classes had no preliminary preparation done, so students wasted a lot of time to collect apparatus from laboratory store before setting experiments.

Since the examination of science subjects currently consists of two papers namely Paper 1 (theory oriented) and Paper 2 (practical), how these practical examinations can be done during exams as well as the teaching and learning process if laboratories are absent remains a question with no clear answer. There is a direct relationship between the availability and use of laboratories in schools on the one hand and the performance in science subjects examinations on the other. The performance in science subjects in ward secondary schools in Nigeria is dismal compared to those schools that have been around for a long time.

In this study the main focus is to investigate whether the availability or in-availability of laboratories in CSS has any link with the academic performance. Shortage of laboratories equipment in secondary schools in Nigeria has been increasingly recognized as an important barrier in improving the quality of science education (Ndabise, 2008).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The government of Nigeria took the initiative to establish community secondary schools in every ward. This initiative resulted in an expansion of education places that had not been observed before in secondary education. However, in spite of the massive expansion of secondary education, it is not clear whether this quantitative expansion was associated with the provision of adequate facilities, including laboratories. Although there are some criteria established for schools to be registered, such as availability of library, classrooms and two laboratories with furniture, among others, the availability and use of laboratory facilities in CSS does not seem to have been in accordance to laid down guidelines.

This follows the experienced reality where students’ performance in science subjects is appalling in CSS. The performance of students in science subjects for the year 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for CSS has tended to be lower compared to performance in the same subjects in other schools. Such a scenario causes the need for a study to establish if performance of students in science subjects has any relationship with availability and use of laboratories. The government knows the importance of science in supporting sustainable development, that is why it insists on science and technology in its Education and Training Policy (ETP) (URT, 1995). Quality science education requires students to perform experiments with their own hands. The learning and practice of science cannot be achieved in the environment which does not give emphasis on practical and hands on activities in schools. Students are supposed to do both theory and practical learning activities. Nevertheless, since science is an activity based subject, its effective teaching and learning cannot be feasible unless it is enriched with practical activities. Practical activities must occupy greater part of the time allocated to science subjects than the chalk and talk method of teaching the theoretical aspects. This study therefore intended to assess the availability and effective use of laboratory equipment as determinant of student performance   

1.3 Purpose  and Objectives of the Study

General Objective is to examine the relationship between the availability and use of laboratories and students’ performance in community secondary schools in science subjects namely Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Specifically, the study was guided by the following specific objectives:

1.      To assess the availability of laboratory facilities in community secondary schools.

2.      To assess the use of laboratories in community secondary schools.

3.      To assess how the availability of human resource influence performance in science subjects.

4.      To explore science teachers’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance.

1.4.Research Tasks and Questions

This study was guided by the following research tasks and questions

Research task 1: To determine the extent of availability of laboratories in the established Community Secondary schools in Nigeria.

Research Questions

1)      To what extent are laboratories available in the ward schools established in Nigeria?

2)      To what extent are laboratories in ward schools sufficient for conducting practical lessons?

Research task 2: To assess the extent to which laboratories are used in the teaching and learning of science subjects in ward schools.

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