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The purpose of the study was to compare the performance between urban and rural school students in the External examinations in basic chemistry in Enugu state. Two objectives guided the study namely, to establish if there was any difference in performance between urban and rural students in basic chemistry in Enugu state and to find out the factors that affected the performance of the students in rural and urban basic schools in Enugu state.
The sample comprised 140 respondents from urban and rural basic schools, consisting of 100 Grade 9 school students, 50 from the urban and 50 rural basic schools, 20 class teachers,10 from the urban and 10 from the rural basic schools, 10 head-teachers, 5 from the urban and 5 from the rural basic schools and 10 PTA chairpersons, 5 from the urban and 5 from the rural basic schools from Enugu state.
The study employed mostly the quantitative and, to a lesser extent, the qualitative research designs. The research instruments used were questionnaires, the semi-structured interview and the document analysis. The questionnaires were used to collect data from the students, head teachers and the class teachers, while semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from the PTA chairpersons
Quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) which was used to generate tables of frequencies, percentages and graphs.
The findings revealed that the performance of urban and rural Grade 9 school students in External examinations was generally poor with no significance difference between the urban and rural Grade 9 school students. The poor performance of the Grade 9 students was attributed to factors such as lack of qualified teachers, shortage of Grade 9 school teachers, long distance to and from school, lack of homework, insufficient learning materials and lack of library facilities.
The study recommended that the Ministry of Education should provide adequate learning and teaching aids for both teachers and students in order to reduce the book student ratio from 1:4 to 1:1.It further recommended that more qualified teachers be employed to places where their services were required. Furthermore, the government should support teachers to go for further studies to various universities and colleges. The Ministry of Education should improve the conditions of service for teachers in order to motivate them to work efficiently. Finally, the government should provide library facilities at every institution of learning.
Background to study
Chemistry is the scientific study of interaction of chemical substances that constitute atoms or the subatomic particles; protons, electrons and neutrons. It is an integral part of the science curriculum both at the senior secondary school as well as higher institutions. At this level, it is often called “general chemistry” which is an introduction to a wide variety of fundamental concepts that enables students to acquire tools and basic skills useful at the advanced level. One of the objectives of science education is to develop students’ interest towards science and technology. The development of any nation today depends greatly on its technological and scientific advancement. Teachers are expected to device ways of motivating their students to develop positive attitudes towards science and science related disciplines (Sola and Ojo, 2007). Chemistry, in particular is central to many of the scientific fields of human endeavors; therefore, teaching ofchemistry should be given serious attention.
Basically, the aim of classroom teaching and learning is to satisfy the set objectives of instructions with the aim of attaining the goals of education. Consequently, all the activities in the classroom are geared towards achieving the societal goals of education. Thus, the expectation of the society from the learner is to perform well at least to satisfy parental expectations as well as to justify the huge national expenditure on education. Regrettably, despite the increasing public funds committed to education, the students’ performance over the years for the West Africa School Certificate (WASC) has continued to be of great concern to the society as a result of continuous failure (Rufai 2010). Adu (2006) noted also that the subject of academic performance is of great concern to individuals and the society. It was observed that failure brings untold hardship and frustration to the individual.
The general consensus was that the attainment level of student performance in Senior Secondary Certificate (WAEC 2000) and General Certificate of Examination was below expectation. Considering the concern of the people for their ward performance and the fact that there is a sharp rise in the number of schools and students, Adu and Oshati (2014) noted that there is need to continuously evaluate the trends in the performance of the students. The hues and cries that normally accompany the release of student results by the West African Examination Council every year have called for continuous research in order to find a more permanent solution to the problem.
In recent times, there has been a sudden upsurge in the establishment of private secondary schools because of the liberalization policy of the government. Most parents are of the opinion that the standard of education in private secondary schools is higher than that in the public secondary schools. In terms of achievement, Ekundayo (2013) reported that performance is largely affected by a range of statistical indicators including the student-staff ratio, qualification of teachers, years of experience of the teacher and the school environment.
Again, the society is not helping matters at all. There are a lot of factors distracting the students (playing of professional football, going into the entertainment industry) from serious academic work. The government is also shying away from their responsibilities. The World Bank report (2001) noted that most of the public schools have dilapidated infrastructures like building, laboratories and obsolete instructional material. Akinloye (2002) pointed out that the teaching job in Nigeria at all levels is not attractive. There is no nation that can rise above her teachers, so teachers have to be highly motivated. The development of any nation depends largely on the quality of her educational system. It is generally believed that the basis for any true development is hinged on the development of human resources. Formal education therefore remains the vehicle for socio-economic development and social mobilization in any society.
Academic performance has indeed attracted a lot of research studies in recent years. Several of these studies have sought to find out the factors that influence it, how it is measured and how it can be changed. The approaches adopted in these studies tend to follow the teacher’s preparedness to teach and his characteristics. While many believe that the dedication of the teacher to his duty determines academic performance, others believe that dedication of teacher only sets a limit and other factors like the personality of the teacher and environmental factors such as motivation on the part of the teacher, adequate curriculum, infrastructure, teaching aids determine how much of this limit is actually achieved.
According to Ekundayo (2013), in the quest for finding survival feet, the nation has evolved a series of socio-economic and educational measures and policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Austerity measures, Universal Primary Education (UPE), Universal Basic Education (UBE) and other educational policies. Most of these measures have not improved the socio-economic and educational status of families in the country. They have rather increased their sufferings and widened the socio-economic gap between families. Adeyanju and Adu (2013) lamented that parents became poor due to these hard measures, such that they could no longer provide good education for their children. Also, they could no longer provide shelter, clothing and the special needs of their children in school such as provision of textbooks, school uniforms and good medical care.
High levels of illiteracy, poverty and low socio-economic status coupled with a high rate of paternal and maternal deprivation of student academic needs, which were necessitated by poor socio-economic situation of the country, have thrown many people into untold financial problems. Also, many rural and sub-urban dwellers can no longer pay the school fees of their wards. These ugly situations have promoted young students to dropout of schools. Hence, many students have since taken schooling as a secondary assignment and school attendance on vocational basis. The resultant problem posed by this, is poor academic performance in examinations like the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) most especially in the public secondary schools (Adeyanju and Adu 2013).
The rate and degree of failure by secondary schools students both, in the private and public secondary schools in external examination is now at an alarming rate. Considering the concern of the parents and guardians for their children’s performance and the fact that there is a sharp increase in the number of schools and students, Adu and Oshati (2014) said that there is a need to continuously evaluate the trends in the performance of the students. Again, Kolawole (2000) agreed with Adu and Oshati (2014) when he stated that the problems that normally accompany the release of students’ result by the West African Examination Council every year have called for continuous research in order to find a permanent solution to them. In recent times, there has been a sudden upsurge in the establishment of private secondary schools because of the liberalization policy of schools and the loss of confidence in public secondary schools. Most of the parents are of the opinion that the standard in private secondary schools is higher than what that in the public secondary schools.
Statement of problem
Academic performance has indeed attracted a lot of research in recent years. Several of these studies have sought to find out the factors that influence it, how it is measured and how it can be changed. The approaches adopted in these studies tend to follow the teacher preparedness to teacher characteristics controversy. While many believe that the dedication of the teacher to his duty determines academic performance, others believe that the dedication of teacher only sets a limit and determines other factors like the personality of the teacher and environmental factors such as motivation on the part of the teacher, adequate curriculum, infrastructure, teaching aids determine how much of this limit is actually achieved. While earlier studies in this area have been teacher-centered, this study goes a step further by considering the role of the students in the entire issue. The student angle is a worthwhile aspect to consider since they are the ones who actually write the examinations, and they are indeed the final product of the entire process. However, the teacher role has not been jettisoned in any way (Adu et al. 2009).
Objective of the study
The broad objective of the study is comparison of acadamic performance of junior secondary school students in chemistry in external examinations from 2003-2007. The objectives of the study were:
1. To establish if there was any difference in performance between urban and rural school students in the External examinations in basic chemistry in Enugu state.
2. To find out the factors that affected the performance of students in the External examinations in rural and urban basic schools in Enugu state.
The research questions of the study were:
1. Is there a difference in performance between urban and rural school students in External examinations in basic chemistry in Enugu state?
2. What are the factors that affected performance of students in the External examinations in rural and urban schools in Enugu state?
1.6Significance of the study
The results of this study would make the teachers, the administrators and the Parent Teachers’ Associations aware of the problems regarding the examinations in both rural and urban basic schools for clearance of these problems. The outcome of this study might also add to the already existing knowledge concerning the factors that affected the performance of the school students in the External examinations in both urban and rural basic schools in Enugu state. The findings of this study might be valuable to planners and decision makers in the Ministry of Education for future planning.
1.7 Definitions of terms
For the purpose of this study, the following definitions were used:
Academic performance – scores obtained by students in a given task or test.
National examination – refers to examination that is written by all students in a particular grade at the end of a grade at the end of a school course throughout the country.
General Certificate Examinations: Examinations written by students at the end of the year to proceed to Grade 10.
Urban - means characteristics ascribed to cities like, concentration of population, a special type of dense built up environment, density in general, specific life styles dedicated to certain parts of cities.
Rural: means out of the city limits country side, less populated areas.
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