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1.1. Background of the study
Education is simply defined as the total process of human learning by which knowledge is acquired, faculties trained and skills developed. Secondary schools not only occupy a vantage in the educational system in Nigeria, it is also the link between the primary and the tertiary levels of education. According to Asikhai (2010), education at secondary school level is supposed to be the bedrock and the foundation towards higher knowledge in tertiary institutions. It is an investment as well as an instrument that can be used to achieve a more rapid economic, social, political, technological, scientific and cultural development in a country. It is rather unfortunate that the secondary schools today are not measuring up to the standards expected of them as envisaged in their performance in external examinations. There have been public outcries over the persistently poor performance of secondary school students in public examinations. According to Nwokocha and Amadike (2005), academic performance of students is the yardstick for testing the educational prowess of a nation. Hence, it is inevitable to maintain a high performance in internal and mostly external examinations. For some years now, reports on the pages of some national dailies and research findings have shown the abysmal performance of students of secondary schools in public examinations. Ajayi (2002), Nwokocha and Amadike (2005), WAEC (2007), The Punch newspaper (September 27, 2008), Adeyemi (2008) and Asikhia (2010) have all shown the extent of poor performance of students in external examinations. The persistent decline in students’ performance in public examinations is not only frustrating to the students and the parents, its effects are equally grievous on the society. One of the most potent yardsticks so far, if not the strongest, of measuring school performance of students is through public examinations such as Senior School Certificate Examination (S.S.C.E.) in Nigeria. These examinations are externally moderated and enjoy a lot of public confidence. The form of education children receive after primary and before tertiary stage is called secondary education. Without secondary school products, it is obvious that the basis for any future academic study cannot be laid. From the aims and objectives of the setting up of schools, one would expect that day and boarding senior secondary school students’ performance in Imo State would greatly improve. Admittedly, no educational system is problem free. However, the decay in Nigerian educational system is becoming nothing to write home about. Ogunsaju (1990) described it as calamitous. Though, brilliant students can be found even in public schools, the high percentage of failure in WASSCE tends to rubbish the good ones among them. Initially, Mathematics and English Language were recording poor results, but later this extended to other subjects including the Sciences and Arts. The schools can no longer justify the faith the government and the public have in them or the huge budgetary allocations they consume yearly. Nevertheless, students have not been doing well, and the situation is not improving. For example, in the S.S.C.E of May/June 1992, English Language recorded only 13.8% passes with Distinction and Credit grades, while 59.6% of the total 381,506 candidates failed. For Mathematics, only 9.7% passed in Distinction and Credit grades while 59.4% failed (WAEC, 1994). In the examinations taken in June 1994 by 618,119 students, 14.2% and 13.7% passed with Distinction and Credit levels in English and Mathematics respectively. The failure rates for the two subjects were 56.3% for English and 67.4% for Mathematics (WAEC, 1994). Results in other core-subjects were equally poor with students doing much worse in subjects with practical work. In WASSCE of December 1996, for example, failure rates were 64.6% for English and Biology 58%. Therefore, if education is going to continue to hold on to its old image as an instrument par excellence for achieving national development, it has to be salvaged or resuscitated. The popular practices of changing the curriculum or adding more subjects, changing the duration of schooling or voting more money are not yielding the expected results. Notably amongst the external examinations are the WASSCE examinations and the NECO examinations. The former is a West African regional examination while the latter is solely Nigerian controlled examination supervised by the federal ministry of education. According to our educational rules, possessing five credit level grades with English language and mathematics in either of the examinations inclusive automatically qualifies students to seek tertiary education in Nigeria.
This research will be carried out in Imo State which is the state capital of Imo state predominantly the Igbo tribe and people from other ethnic groups in Nigeria. The area is urban, open to lots of vices and it attracts strangers from all over the world, who settle and trade for a living due to the abundance of mass land.
1.2. Statement of the problem
The phenomenon of poor external results among Nigerian secondary school students, especially those in senior secondary schools is a matter that has become a serious source of concern to successive governments and major stakeholders in the education sector in the country. Over the years, the majority of students that sat for the May/ June West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and November/ December National Examination Council (NECO) have been recording mass failure, not only in the area of overall performance of the students, but also in the core subjects like English, Mathematics, Sciences (Biology, Physics, Chemistry),Geography, Vocational and Technical Studies and History where the high spate of failures have been a dominant feature of the students‘ performance in Imo State. However, statistics reeled out by the two examination bodies, the National Examination Council and the West African Examination Council, which is the particular focus of this study, each time the results of West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations are released, they point to the fact that students have generally been underperforming the high investment which the government, both at the federal and state levels, as well as the parents have been making in the sector, though, some still pull their weight. Consequently, the out-cry on the persistent poor and unpromising performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Imo State, Nigeria specifically, in the past six years (2007/2008, 2008/2009, 7 2009/2010, 2010/2011, 2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014) in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) conducted by West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) made educationists and the government policy makers and the researcher wonder whether the schools are measuring up to the expectations. The measurement of performance of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations is for them to score at least a credit in the subjects under comparison.
1.3. Objectives of the study
The following are the aims and objectives of engaging in this study
1. To critically examine the performance of students in Mathematics, physics and Biology in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Imo State.
2. To study the performance of students in WASSCE AND NECO examinations simultaneously in mathematics, physics and biology in Imo State.
3. To know which of the examinations students perform better in when compared to the other.
4. To know if there is a significant difference between the performance of students in mathematics in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
5. To know if there is a significant difference between the performance of students in physics in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
6. To know if there is a significant difference between the performance of students in Biology in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
7. To recommend ways of improving the performances of mathematics, physics and biology in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Imo State.
1.4. Research Questions
1. What is the performance of students in Mathematics, physics and Biology in WASSCE examinations in Imo State?
2. What is the performance of students in Mathematics, physics and Biology in NECO examinations in Imo State?
3. Compare the performance of students in WASSCE AND NECO examinations simultaneously in mathematics, physics and biology in Imo State?
4. Which of the examinations do students perform better in when compared to the other?
5. What are the reasons for the performances in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Imo State?
6. Is there a significant difference between the performances of students in mathematics in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
7. Is there a significant difference between the performances of students in physics in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
8. Is there a significant difference between the performances of students in Biology in WASSCE and NECO examinations?
1.5. Research Hypotheses
H0: There is no significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Mathematics in Imo State.
H1: There is significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Mathematics in Imo State.
H0: There is no significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Physics in Imo State.
H1: There is significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Physics in Imo State.
H0: There is no significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Biology in Imo State.
H1: There is a significant difference between the performances of students in WASSCE and NECO examinations in Biology in Imo State.
1.6. Significance of the study
This study would be of immense benefit to secondary school administrators, principals and teachers in that it would unravel the examinations between WASSCE and NECO students perform better in. the study would also help government and educational stakeholders and especially the Imo state ministry of education in formulating policies that would enhance the performance of students in external examinations in Imo state. Finally, the study would be important to all stakeholders who are interested in knowing the performance of students in the two major examination bodies in Nigeria.
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