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1.8 Background to the study

  Underachievement and poor performance of pupils and students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria is a common knowledge. Many books have traced these problems to the introduction of Universal Primary Education (U.P.E) in 1976 which led to the explosion of primary schools pupils. Due to this explosion, more teachers were needed and government had no option than to organise crash training programmes for these primary school teachers who were just hand-picked without any sound knowledge of teaching and they were made to teach large volumes of pupils in an unconducive school environment. The pupils under this scheme suffered various setbacks which led to their poor performance and underachievement in tests and examinations conducted in schools. It is these pupils that moved on in large numbers to secondary schools with the same problems still trailing them. More teachers were employed in secondary schools to meet up with this large number of students coming in from primary schools. Quoting from Oyeniyan (1994)...”but to aggravate this already bad situation is the gargantuan need for teachers in the ever-increasing number of schools which cannot be met by the quantity of available qualified people”. Now, the questions right now is, are these teachers qualified enough to handle these knowledge-deprived students and is the school environment ideal enough to promote effective teaching-learning activities? Various researches and findings have discovered a lot of factors contributing to the poor performance of students in Nigeria. “...the amount of learning and knowledge imparted in our secondary school is scanty and poor, that learning and knowledge imparted, such as it is, lacks proper moral content, that the physical facilities and are unconducive to effective learning, being either non-existence or in a deplorable state; that there is general indiscipline among students and teachers alike and also a certain disinclination, even disenchantment, among our people towards education, resulting in lower school enrolment. It is equally an undisputed fact that this situation represents a fall, a reversal from what used to be”. (Bassi, 2001)

According to these, it has been identified that a lot of factors contributes to the underachievement of students in Nigerian schools. In one of the recent conferences organized by the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN 1996), experts from different fields were present to discuss the problems of low achievement in all the science subjects including Basic/Integrated Science. The reasons given for poor performance of Nigeria learners were very many but this study is taken intoconsideration, two (2) important factors related. They are:

·          Lack of  qualified teachers; and

·          School environment.

       Both variables are seen to affect the academic performance of students in Basic/Integrated Science in Nigerian schools especially the Government (public) schools.

On looking at the teachers’ qualification, previous researches by various researchers have observed that some schools in Nigeria still have a good number of unqualified teachers in the system (Oyeniyan, 1994). It has been discovered that many schools in Nigeria are still encountering this problem which as properly observed by part of article 57 in National Policy on education (N.P.E, Revised Version, 2004) states educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers. Hence the quality of education obtainable in Nigeria today speaks volume on the standard and quality of teachers so for Nigerians to produce quality products for societal development through schools, the teachers should be of immense quality and professional calibre.

In teaching profession, nine categories of teachers can be found all over the country but for secondary schools, only four of these categories are allowed to teach based on their certification and subject area of interest. For Basic/Integrated Science, these categories are:

Ø  The NCE graduates with  science qualification;

Ø  The HND graduates with teaching qualification in science education;

Ø  The B.Sc holders without teaching qualification in science education; and

Ø  The B.Sc holders with teaching qualification in science education.

The school environment is also a major factor affecting the academic performance of Basic/Integrated Science students in Nigeria Government schools. By school environment, it simply includes among others, a safe building, playgrounds, good sanitation, adequate laboratory, well-stocked library and a nice landscape. Today in Nigeria, a healthful environment is far from ideal.

As related to performance, the health of the school population and education are interdependent. Without health, the school child cannot benefit from the education received from school. Therefore, the school environment cannot be isolated from the education of the child with regards to the performance in the school. The question at hand here is; are the infrastructures in our secondary schools adequate to facilitate teaching and learning of Basic/Integrated Science? To answer this question, three important variables come to mind in view of the school environment, THE CLASSROOM SIZE, THE LIBRARY and most importantly, THE SCIENCE LABORATORIES for the practical works of all sciences including Basic/Integrated Science. If these afore-mentioned factors are to be in deficit in schools, then the child’s educational development, especially scientific knowledge of the science-oriented child would definitely be at stake.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

There are contemporary problems in the teaching and learning of Integrated Science in Nigeria. These problems affect dissemination of scientific knowledge and skills at all levels of the educational system. These problems solely contribute to the underperformance of students which invariably contribute to the scientific development of the Nation. Out of these numerous problems, two (2) were taken into consideration which were: teachers’ qualification, and school environment respectively.

In recent years, it has been observed by various educational researchers in their work, that the on-job Basic/Integrated Science teachers are lacking in pedagogical content, scientific skills, experience and so on. This is a major setback on the students’ scientific skill development because without an experienced science teacher, the students would not be able to meet up with the criteria of becoming scientifically literate at that level.

The school environment on the other hand has also been observed to affect student achievement in Basic/Integrated Science. Overcrowded classrooms, lack or inadequate science laboratories, lack or inadequate school library are major inhibiting factor in teaching-learning processes in Nigerian schools. A child cannot learn effectively in an overcrowded class because it is not so conducive enough. Also when there is no or ill-equipped science laboratory in the school, how will the Basic/Integrated Science students conduct experiments as well as developing scientific skills? A school library that is lacking in required textbooks for studies cannot be of any use to students because it does not encourage reading interests and research usage.

1.3   Purpose of Study

The purpose of the study was to

1)       Establish if there is any relationship between teachers’ qualification and students’ performance in terms of: pedagogical competence, scientific skills, experience, e.t.c to teach the subject.

2)       Investigate if the school environment truly affects the teaching-learning processes of Basic/Integrated Science in view of:

a.       Overcrowded classrooms;

b.       Lack or inadequate school library; and

c.        Lack or inadequate science laboratory.

1.4   Research Questions

The research questions that were answered were:

1)  Is there any relationship between teachers’ qualification and students’ performance as subject to; pedagogical competence, scientific skills and knowledge, experience, e.t.c.

2)   Does the school environment have any impact in the teaching-learning processes of Basic/Integrated Science in view of:

a.   Classroom congestion?

b.  School library functionality?

c.   Science laboratory functionality?

1.5    Research Hypothesis

The null hypotheses adopted for this study were:

1.  The qualification of the on-job Integrated Science teachers does not differ significantly in terms of pedagogical competence, scientific skills, and conceptual knowledge subsequent to students’ performance.

2.  There is no significant difference in the performance of students in a good school environment, and those not.

1.6   Significance of the study

The Government (Ministry of Education)

This study will also set out to inform the Ministry of Education of the effect of teachers’ qualification and school environment on the academic achievement of tomorrow’s leaders so that in-service training and  other educational programmes for teachers can be organised from time-to-time to counter this deficiency, also to try to provide the required adequate school environment for teaching-learning activities.

For students,

This study will be of immense benefits to the students of the school because it will improve their performances and develop them scientifically through the availability of science laboratory, well-ventilated classrooms and school library coupled with qualified teachers.

For teachers,

This study will be help the on-job Basic/Integrated Science teachers to be professionally inclined in their fields by attending seminars and workshop practices in enhancing their knowledge in the subject matter and know the appropriate teaching methods, instructional aids e.t.c to be administered during classrooms interactions.

1.6   Scope and delimitation of the study

The scope of this study focused on Basic/Integrated Science teachers’ qualification and school environment in ways to improve their effectiveness for development of teaching and learning activities in the school. Due to financial and time constraint, the study was limited to selected government (public) schools in Lagos Mainland Area of Lagos state. Since the effect of the teachers’ qualification and school environment on student’s academic achievement is already known based on previous researches.

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