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Background of the study
Secondary schools occupy a strategic position in every educational system since they provide a vital link between primary and tertiary institutions. According to the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004), secondary schools are where children receive education after primary education and before entering into tertiary level of education. Lippit (2007) conceptualized secondary schools as educational institutions designed for the provision of full-time education to students who are within the age range of 11 to 18. According to Eubanks and Eubanks (2000), the average age of entrance into the secondary school is 10–11 year and expected year of graduation is 17–19 years. In this study, secondary schools are considered as educational institutions which aim at inculcating worthwhile knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies and values to students. The broad goal of secondary school education in Nigeria is to prepare the individual for useful living within the society and for transition into tertiary education. To ensure that the role of education of its different levels are realized, it is necessary to engage in regular assessment of educational processes and practices
Assessment is the process of measuring the level of performance of an individual or an organization in a particular area or field of endeavour (Edikpa, 2008). This definition as it relates to this study, implies that assessment involves measuring the level of performance of secondary schools in the implementation of quality assurance practices. According to Mistra (2006), assessment is the action of evaluating, appraising, estimating, and/or calculating the value or worth of an event, activities or programme. Paulk (2011) conceptualized it as any activity that involve
the use of empirical data to refine programmes and improve their performance. Thus, assessment is operationally defined in this study as the process of determining the extent to which secondary schools carry out their quality assurance practices in conformity with the established guidelines for their implementation.
Quality is a term that is used to show that the programme, activity or service of an organization is of high value and standard (Abenga, 2006). Ajayi (2008) viewed quality as a concept that makes value judgment on the activities and overall performance of an organization. Arikewuyo (2004) defined quality in education as the ability to enable the students perform well in standard examinations and relevance to the needs of the students, community and the society as a whole. Arikewugo further stressed that quality serves as determination of grading based on standard from which a mark of inferiority or superiority is defined. Quality is something everyone considers good and wants to have. It is about the standard of something when compared with other things. Fadokun (2005) characterized quality by the following: firstly, efficiency in the meeting of goals; secondly the relevance of human and environmental conditions and needs, and thirdly the exploration of new ideas, the pursuit of excellence and encouragement of creativity. These definitions as they relate to this study, imply that quality is a term that is used to show how good the programmes and activities carried out in secondary schools are. Consequently, quality as used in this study refers to a value judgment indicating high standard and excellence in the education provided and activities carried out in secondary schools.
Quality assurance has been defined by some authors. Ewelukwa (2009) defined quality assurance as a term that encompasses all measures taken by an educational institution to ensure that its specified educational objectives are fully achieved. In the
view of Collins (2009), quality assurance refers to all the activities carried out by a school in order to meet the quality requirements of the education provided by the school. Quality assurance in the school system, according to Ugwu (1999), refers to all activities that are conducted in order to achieve or maintain a certain acceptable quality level in every participant. Ugwu maintained that the participants in the school system include: the teachers, administrators, and the students in the school system. Quality assurance, according to Oladipo (2010), involves the consistently meeting product specifications or getting things right the first time, and every time. Oladipo stressed that the process of admitting the right students at the right time requires adequate resources that will ensure the attainment of set objectives. These viewpoints clearly show that quality assurance in secondary schools requires that teachers and school administrators achieve their goal of preparing students for useful living within the society and for higher education as embodied in Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004).
The importance of quality assurance in educational institutions has been highlighted by different scholars. Quality assurance may be defined as a process that examines the aims, structure, inputs, processes, products, outputs and projected outcomes of higher education systems (programmes/institutions). According to Ross (2008), it is the effective implementation of measures that enable educational institutions (secondary schools inclusive) to provide the kind of education that is required for socio-economic growth and national development. In the views of Bamisaye (2010), quality assurance in secondary schools enable teachers and adminstrators in secondary schools to adequately prepare their students for useful living within the society and for higher education. In his own perspective, Beck (2012)
observed that quality assurance in schools is fundamental to the creation of a school climate that is conducive for effective teaching and learning.
Quality assurance looks at the educational improvement from the wholistic approach, though the students are the target, everything in the learning environment is involved in the process of achieving higher standard. These definitions indicate that quality assurance is a means by which an educational institution ensures that the education it delivers will serve or meet the purpose for which it is intended. Thus, quality assurance is defined in this study as the activities initiated and carried out by secondary schools and their external regulatory or controlling agencies in order to ensure that the required standards of education and scholarship are provided and maintained in secondary schools.
Educational quality assurance is the process of collecting, analyzing and utilizing relevant educational information in order to ensure that stated or predetermined goals or targets are achieved optimally. It ensures that programme strategies are aligned with programme goals and objectives, thereby assuring the quality of the outcomes.
In assuring quality in secondary schools in Nigeria, principals and evaluators play important roles in monitoring and assessing, as internal and external evaluators. A school principal is an educator who has executive authority for a school, while an evaluator is a person qualified by education, training, and experience, to provide appraisals. The Federal Inspectorate Service (FIS) of the Federal Ministry of Education (which is the inspectoral agency for secondary schools in Nigeria) has a manual which serves as a benchmark (see appendix F) that guides secondary schools in Nigeria in carrying out their quality assurance practices. However, the effective and efficient
management of secondary schools and the ultimate realization of their established goals and objectives require that they have to carry out quality assurance practices. The successful implementation of quality assurance measures in secondary schools however, is a function of how well secondary schools are guided by this manual in their quality assurance practices. According to the Federal Inspectorate Service (2010), the quality assurance practices to be carried out in basic and secondary education levels in Nigeria include: (a) adequate provision of infrastructural facilities, (b) provision of relevant curriculum, (c) effective teaching and learning, (d) effective school management and leadership, (e) provision of learners’ welfare needs, and (f) maintenance of effective school-community relationship.
Infrastructural facilities in a school, according to Ogbonnaya (2001), refer to the classrooms, libraries, laboratories, offices, examination halls, administrative buildings, audio-visual materials, machines, chalkboards, stools, desks. Echem (2009) viewed infrastructural facilities as representing the school buildings and other material resources provided in a school for the implementation of school programmes and activities. These definitions show that infrastructural facilities are made up of the school land and all the physical structures and materials in it. They (facilities) represent the totality of the school environment for the implementation of the school business and the realization of its goals. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipments are modern equipments which educational institutions use to conduct teaching and learning so as to achieve stated educational goals and objectives effectively and efficiently. Examples are teaching computer (e.g. laptop or desktop), school server, digital projector, data backup, digital stills camera/digital video camera, wireless table, and interactive white.
Quality assurance in basic and secondary education levels in Nigeria, according to the Federal Inspectorate Service [FIS] (2010) manual, requires that: the school buildings (including toilets) should be tidy and well maintained; sporting facilities and equipments should be available and well utilized; there should be separate toilet facilities for male and female students and teachers; all areas of the schools should be accessible to learners with special needs; there should be adequate procedures for school safety in cases of fire out break and other emergencies. Besides, ICT facilities should be available and used for teaching and learning; there should be demarcation of school compound to prevent encroachment and to provide security; classrooms, laboratories, workshops and library should be available and used to enhance teaching and learning; and necessary equipment in classrooms, laboratories, workshops and library should be adequate. Thus, this study will, among other things, determine the extent of adherence to these guidelines on provision of infrastructural facilities and equipment in secondary schools.
In terms of relevant curriculum, Nwabueze (2007) defined curriculum as the instrument which a school uses to achieve its educational goals and objectives. According to Nduka (2009), a curriculum is the programme of instruction which a school uses to impart knowledge and skills to its students. It can be deduced from these definitions that it is curriculum that specifies what is to be learnt in a school, the skills the school has to develop in the learners, as well as the attitudes to be inculcated in the learners by the school. Therefore, the curriculum is the tool which a school uses to achieve its specified educational goals and objectives.
According to Federal Inspectorate Service Handbook (2010) manual, the secondary schools should ensure the provision and use of relevant curriculum by
providing a broad range of worth-while curricular opportunities that cater for the interests, aptitudes and particular needs of learners. The curriculum needs external requirements and should also be responsive to local circumstances. Besides, the quality and quantity of infrastructural facilities and the instructional materials in the school require the use of the curriculum, and all learners (including those with special needs) should have access to all curricular options. This study, among other things, determined the extent of adherence to these guidelines on the provision of relevant curriculum for effective teaching and learning in secondary schools (see benchmark,124).
Effective teaching and learning is another quality assurance practice that is carried out in secondary schools. It is conceptualized by Kesandu (2006) as the delivery of quality education in the school system and its positive impact on the learners, while Bowman (2010) viewed effective teaching and learning as a planned process by which a school conducts its teaching and learning transactions in order to meet expected learning out comes. It, therefore, follows that effective teaching and learning in secondary schools should aim at ensuring that appropriate teaching and meaningful learning are achieved in these schools.
To ensure effective teaching and learning in secondary schools, every class up to junior secondary school should be taught by a qualified and competent teacher with a minimum of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), while every teacher in the senior secondary school level should have a minimum qualification of bachelor’s degree in relevant subject(s) (FIS, 2010). In addition, no secondary school learner should be taught in a class larger than 40 because every learner should be able to participate fully with the support of the teacher, have access to appropriate
instructional materials, have a minimum of 180 days of schooling per year, and be continuously assessed to check that sufficient progress is being made. All learners with special needs should have an appropriate education, and every learner should be taught to apply knowledge and skill. This study will, among other things also find out the extent of adherence to these guidelines for effective teaching and learning by school managers in secondary schools.
Effective school management and leadership is an important component of the quality assurance practices in secondary schools. It is the process by which school resources [which include human, material and financial resources] are planned, organized, co-ordinated, controlled, directed and led towards the attainment of pre-determined educational objectives (James, 2005; Fagbiye, 2007). What one can infer from this view point is that school management and leadership involves working with people while planning, organizing, controlling, directing and leading them, for the accomplishment of the goals of the school system.
Furthermore, the FIS Handbook (2010:22) articulated that effective school management and leadership in secondary schools entails that school administrators’ and leaders should have a minimum qualification of first degree and their efforts should be channeled towards improving the achievement of the learners in their care; every school should have a school development plan which is based on its vision and mission; every school should also have a school-based management committee which actively supports school improvement; the human, material and financial resources of each school should be effectively deployed to achieve the school goals and objectives. This study will, among other things, ascertain the extent to which secondary schools
adhere to these guidelines on effective school management and leadership in secondary schools.
Another aspect of quality assurance practices for schools is the provision of learners welfare needs, Frank (2004) and Goss (2006), stated that this requirement for the provision of learners’ welfare needs, aims at creating a school climate that is conducive for effective teaching and learning, and for the full participation of the learners in school activities. Thus, it is the provision of learners’ welfare needs that gives the learners the feelings of satisfaction and sense of belonging which will in turn elicit their active participation and commitment in school activities.
In the provision of learners’ welfare needs, the school should provide a safe working and learning environment for learners and teachers; all should have good sanitation and access to first aid facilities; all schools should provide guidance and counselling services to students at a minimum standard of Junior Secondary School (JSS) and ensure safe balanced meals for students (FIS, 2010). This study will, among other things, determine the extent of adherence to these guidelines on provision of learners’ welfare needs in secondary schools.
The maintenance of effective school-community relationship is also a quality assurance practice required out in secondary schools. In the views of Blair (2001) and Adeoye (2004), school-community relationship is the mutual understanding, co-operation and collaboration, between a school and the community where it is situated. School-community relationship can, therefore, be said to be an interactive process through which a school seeks out opportunities which will actively engage the community in the running of the school.
Regarding this, FIS (2010) manual in addition stated that in the maintenance of effective school-community relationship in secondary schools, parents should be informed about their children’s progress; parents should give feedback to the school; there should be home-school agreement; parents should help the school in solving academic and social problems of learners; there should be frequent contact with parents and the school; there should be involvement of the school and parents in the planning of the school programmes and activities; and that parents and community members should be encouraged to participate in school events. This study will also determine, among other things, the extent to which secondary schools follow these guidelines in maintenance of effective school-community relationship in secondary schools.
It is note worthy, however, that the opinions of people concerning quality assurance practices in secondary schools seem to suggest that they are not properly carried out in conformity with the established guidelines for their implementation. For instance, Hamza (2005) observed that secondary schools in North-Central States, Nigeria are manned by unqualified teachers and school administrators, and many of these schools also have inadequate infrastructural facilities, equipment and materials. Ibeneme (2007) remarked that the curriculum of secondary schools in Nigeria (North-Central States inclusive) is not current, responsive and relevant to the needs of students in particular and Nigerian society in general. In support of this view, Akandem (2009) noted that the students who are now produced by secondary schools in Nigeria are not well prepared for useful living within the society and for higher education. This, according to Akandem, is as a result of the influence of irrelevant curriculum and unqualified teachers in secondary schools.
In addition to the above negative observations, Abdullah (2011) was worried
that quality assurance measures in secondary schools in North-Central States, Nigeria
are not effectively and properly carried out because the welfare needs of their students
are hardly provided for them leading to poor student motivation and participation in
school activities. Moreso, the director of the Kogi State Secondary Schools
Management Board in a circular dated 11th February, 2014 berated all secondary
schools in Kogi State for their poor implementation of quality assurance measures.
This also shows that all is not well with quality assurance practices in secondary
schools in Kogi State in particular, and North-Central States in general.
Furthermore, an appraisal of the management of secondary schools in North-
Central States, Nigeria by Yahaya (2011:17) also showed that there are lapses in the
quality assurance practices of these schools. The author observed that:
Secondary schools in North-Central States, Nigeria are known for inadequate and dilapidated infrastructural facilities and instructional materials. The welfare needs of students are not provided for them and consequently, they are not motivated for effective participation in school activities. Moreover, the school curriculum is obsolete and irrelevant to current societal trends and conditions. The school climate is not conducive for effective teaching and learning and there is generally poor management of secondary schools. Consequently, there is poor teaching and learning in secondary schools, while school-community relationship is not well maintained as to attract the purposeful participation of communities in the administration of these schools.
It is note worthy that the foregoing claims portray an ugly state of affairs with
the quality assurance practices in secondary schools. Consequently, the quality
assurance practices in
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