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1.1 Background to the Study
A curriculum is a comprehensive plan that includes objectives to be attained, specifications of resources required and stages of work to be performed (Asiabaka, 2002). According to Olatunji (2005), a curriculum is a collection of co-ordinated activities that are mutually directed towards the attainment of a definite goal and it usually comprises of several segments or projects which can be separately pursued as component of the whole curriculum.Curriculum assessment is defined by Huba and Freed (2000), HutchingsandMarchese (1990) and Palomba and Banta (1999) as the systematic and ongoing method of gathering, analyzing and using information from various sources about a curriculum and measuring outcomes in order to improve student learning.
Curriculumimplementation entails putting into practice the officially prescribed courses of study, syllabuses and subjects (Chikumbi and Makamure, 2000). Putting the curriculum into operation requires an implementation agent. The teacher is identified as the agent in the curriculum implementation process. The concept of curriculum implies that a goal is in focus and several activities would be needed and co-ordinated to attain the goal (Iwuchukwu and Igbokwe, 2012). Curriculum implementation therefore refers to how the planned or officially designed course of study is translated by the teacher into syllabuses, scheme of work and lessons to be delivered to students.
Implementation is said to take place when the teacher constructed syllabuses, the teacher personality, the teaching materials and the teaching environment interact with the
learner (Ofoha,Uchegbu, Anyikwa, and Nkemdirim, 2009). Curriculumimplementation entails putting into practice the officially prescribed courses of study, syllabuses and subjects, putting the curriculum into operation requires an implementation agent and the teacher is identified as the agent in the curriculum implementation process. (Chikumbi and Makamure, 2000).Egbule (2004) definesagricultural science as a process of training learner in the process of agricultural productivity as well as the techniques for teaching of agriculture.
Agricultural Science is one of the core vocational subjects taught in both junior and senior secondary schools in Nigeria. National Curriculum Council (NCC) specified that agricultural science should be taught in secondary schools in order to create and sustain students‘ interest in agriculture, and to serve as a foundation for future advancement in the study of agricultural science (NCC, 2009). Because of its promising role in promoting self-reliance through the provision of employment opportunities and production of staple foods for the populace together with raw materials supply for the agro-allied industries, its teaching as a course offering in our schools has been given an important focus by the federal government (Ekeyi, 2013).
The Federal Republic of Nigeria in its attempts towards the attainment of the laudable goals of vocational and technical education subjects outlined that the basic objectives of teaching of agricultural science at the secondary schools level are to:
1. stimulate and sustain students‘ interest in agriculture.
2. inculcate in students farming skills.
3. enable students acquire basic knowledge and practical skills in agriculture.
4. preparestudents for future studies in agriculture.
5. produce prospective future farmers (FRN, 2009:28).
The above objectives can only be attainable through instruction and motivation of students by teachers of agricultural science. Surprisingly, most teachers of agricultural science in our secondary schools today are still known to have difficulty in teaching some agricultural science concepts thus leading to students‘ poor academic performance in such areas especially in prescribed external examinations like West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), National Examination Council (NECO) and National Technical EducationBoard (NATEB) (Egun, 2007).
The importance of the teacher in the success of any educational programme has been well articulated in the National Policy on Education for the Federal Republic of Nigeria (NPE, 2013). The ultimate goal of any instructional activity is to facilitate effective teaching and learning. The teacher is responsible for translation and implementation of educational policies, curriculum and instructional materials package. It is therefore certain that no curriculum can achievethe desired results unless teachers are appropriately trained (Bello, 2015). Bello further stated that recruiting, preparing and retraining good teacher is the central strategy for improving our schools.
According to Bello(2015), the teacher‘s qualification and the type of training he/she received during his/her teacher training programme determine his/her ability to effect teaching-learning process. Idoko(2008) reveals that unprofessional and inexperienced agricultural science teachers using inappropriate teaching method in conveying practical skills to students are responsible for lack of interest and poor academic performance of students in agricultural science practical. This indicates that teacher‘s qualification and inadequate skills in conveying practical skills (that is, quality of delivery)
are among factors affectingefficient implementation of agricultural science curriculum. Jatau (2008) reports that when instructional materials are appropriately utilized, they bring about more effectiveness in teaching and learning process, but this depends on teachers‘ ability to use them efficiently.
The school is a social and learning agent that provides the environment upon which a child may be formally educated in order to attain educational goals.Umoh and Etuk (2003) assert that a child who wants to learn agricultural science and develop desirable attitudes, interest, appreciation, understanding, habits, abilities, knowledge and skills requires a stimulating environment which will enable the teachers to teach a variety of activities with broad based ideas about what the students are likely to learn or respond to. School facilities and equipment are assets to a learner and they determine how and what the students should learn (Ekanem, 2005). Olaitan and Mama (2002) mention that lack of and inadequate school farmland and the farm structures in the school environment affect directly the teaching and learning of Agricultural science in senior secondary school level.
Umoh (2006) observes that there is a significant difference between the performances of students with adequate and those with inadequate school environment. Umoh further stated that, where learning facilities and teaching personnel are adequate, learning and performance are positive. Agriculture as a practical subject requires facilities like land, equipment and a laboratory. These demand a lot of funds which may be difficult for many schools to secure in order to facilitate the practical teaching of the subject (Jemba, 2010). Similarly,Sekamba (1997) observes that the high running costs of practical education reduce the effectiveness of conducting practical education in subjects like agricultural science.
Eze and Uzoka (2011) state that it is the teacher who implements the curriculum through interaction with students.Osam (2013) opines that education is hindered when funds are not available for routine classroom work, extra-curricular activities and other school learning ventures.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The researcher observed that the teaching and learning of agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Niger State has become poor.Teachers do not like to go for training and re-training in agricultural science teaching, they still use conventional method of teaching to teach agricultural science, most infrastructures like laboratories and farm tools and equipment are not adequately available in senior secondary schools, schools are not given adequate funds to conduct practical in agricultural science and students do not show enough interest in the subject.Obika (2003) states that the reasons for the possible causes of poor achievement in agricultural scienceis poor mastery of the concept, teaching methods employed are inadequate and the learners do not interact with curriculum content and teaching materials.
Various factors have been assumed to be responsible for this set back without giving serious emphasis to the vital role of the implementation of agricultural science curriculum. The most significant aspect of the National Policy on Education as noted by Dike (2009) is the new focus it gives to agricultural science curriculum in the Nigerian educational system.Teaching of agricultural science at senior secondary school requires a sound background in theory and practical aspects by the teachers of agriculture.
For Niger state to move forward in vocational and technical education there is the need for the effective implementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior
secondary schools in the state.It is in respect of this clamor for change that many innovative strategies were developed to bring about improvement in teaching and learning of secondary school subjects. The main thrust of this study therefore was to assess teacher perception of implementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger State
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of the study was to assess teacher perception of implementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger state. The specific objectives were to:
1. determine the influence of teachers‘ qualification/competencies onimplementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger State.
2. ascertainthe influence ofadequacy of infrastructure/instructional facilities on implementation ofagricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger state.
3. assessthe influence of adequacy of funding on implementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger state.
4. ascertain commonly used teachingmethodsand their influence on implementation of agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Niger state.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions have been formulated:
1. What is the influence of teachers‘ qualification/competencies on implementation of agricultural science curriculumin senior secondary schools in Niger State?
2. What is the influence of adequacy of infrastructure/instructional facilities on implementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger State?
3. What is the influence of adequacy of funding on implementation ofagricultural science curriculumin senior secondary schools in Niger State?
4. What is the influence of commonly used teaching methodson implementation ofagricultural sciencecurriculum in senior secondary schools in Niger State?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were postulated for the study:
1. Teachers‘ qualification/competencies have no significant influence on agricultural science curriculum implementationinsenior secondary schools in Niger State.
2. There is no significant influence of adequacy ofinfrastructure/instructional facilities onagricultural science curriculum implementationin senior secondary schoolsin Niger State.
3. There is no significant influence of adequacy of fundingon agricultural science curriculum implementation in senior secondary schools in Niger State.
4. There is no significant influence of commonly used teachingmethodson agricultural science curriculum implementation in senior secondary schoolsin Niger State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be significant in the following ways:
It will sensitize policy makers and curriculum planners on the need to ascertain to what extent agricultural science curriculum has been implemented and the influence of the factors stated in the objective on its implementation. It will also contribute to policy formulation and practices, as inspectors from Federal and State Ministries of Education will be sensitized on what to look out for during inspection. It will influence the school administrators to give agricultural science subject a priority and to monitor its implementation by agricultural science teachers. It will also make school administrators realize how various aspects of funding and other aspects of agricultural science curriculum implementation are important so that they can plan and monitor accordingly.
The findings will help agricultural science teachers to lay strategies for improving the teaching of agricultural science in secondary schools.The result will bring out the possible problem areas that need to be improved upon by the teachers and school heads for effective teaching and learning of agricultural science in senior secondary schools.It is hoped that when policy makers and school administrators use the findings, the teaching of agricultural science in secondary schools will improve.
The findings of this study will stimulate researchers to conduct more research onimplementation of agricultural science curriculum in senior secondary schools and strategies for improvement. Finally, the study may provide reference materials for future research hence adding to the pool of knowledge.
1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
This study was based on the following assumptions, that:
1. there are qualified/competent agricultural science teachers in senior secondary schools in Niger State.
2.infrastructure/instructional facilities are adequate for teaching and learning agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Niger state.
3.there is adequate funding of agricultural science practical in senior secondary schools in Niger state.
4. different teaching methodsare used in the teaching and learning of agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Niger State.
1.8 Delimitation to the Study
The study was delimited to:
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