The condition of Government schools all over the country and quality of education being imparted, are going from bad to worse, day by day. Government and the concerned Education Department have no check and balance over quality of education. Government schools are overcrowded because of increased population, due to limitation of the economic resources and budget constraints. Due to these reasons, it raises the problem of overcrowding in classrooms. With the passage of time it becomes one of the major problems of our education system.
The changing concepts of learning, achievements and curriculum have resulted in expanded notions of what constitutes real education reform. Education reformers have increasingly relied on assessment to attain their objectives, to substantiate their contentions, or to promote implementations of their innovations. It is worth mentioning that quite often in this study assessment and evaluation shall be interchangeably used.
Seels & Richey (1994:53) define evaluation as “determining the adequacy of instruction and learning”. Teachers in implementing assessment play a major role. Gary (1997:8), in view of assessment states that “the center of assessment revolution are the teachers and those with concerns about the information needs of classroom teachers” He continues to argue that the primary reason for engaging classroom assessment is to support and improve students’ learning.
Since the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997 in Nigeria, enrolment in primary education tripled from about 2.7 million in 1996 to 8.2 million in 2009 (MDGs Report, 2010:17). The enrolments in many classrooms in schools in Bwari Area Council are still above the recommended Government pupil classroom ratio of 35:1 and teachers who are the key to delivering the education Millennium Development Goals are not thriving within a favorable environment to give a critical input to the education system in order to achieve the MDGs by 2020.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education is not only a fundamental human right, but is also essential and indispensable for the exercise of all other rights. It is a key investment for the social development and transformation of the individual’s well-being. It is also a tool for empowering all human beings to enjoy their political, economic and social rights. There is an increasing recognition among the international community that limited access to education is a violation of fundamental human rights and serves as the basis for exclusion from meaningful participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of the community (Transparency International, 2009:7). The provision of basic education for all children by 2015 is one of the world’s major educational objectives. This recognition has inspired global initiatives in setting up guiding principles and instruments that ensure equitable access to education for all and through UNESCO’s Education for All (EFA) commitments and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the national and international attention is focused on measures to achieve the Universal Basic Education (UBE) by the year 2020.
Although the increase of enrollment is seen as a success in the UPE programme Nigeria still faces the problem of addressing the short falls in access, equity in quality. The UN Millennium Project report, (2005:53), supports the need to significantly accelerate the enrollment of children and improve the ability to keep them at school, and the children must achieve major improvements in learning outcomes and educational attainments at a level required to have an economic and social impact. The full achievement of UPE requires not just that children schooling but that they move through the whole system and graduate after primary six and this requires improved retention and quality.
Similar studies on assessment have stated the importance of assessment to individuals and institutions. Mansell, James and ARG (2009:1) mentions that “Assessment is essential to allow individuals to get the educational support they need to succeed, to see the effectives of different educational methods, and to ensure that educational budgets are being spent effectively”. While Dunn, Mehrotra & Halonen, (2004: xii) reveal that “Assessment is a vital tool in helping institutions determine if they are meeting the academic needs of all the students and preparing them to be successful in tomorrow’s market place and society”. In carrying out students’ assessment to generate information, teachers are considered as key in the implementation process. Lamprianou and Athanasou (2009:1) comments indicate that teachers spend as much time as one third of their time in assessment related activities and there are indicators that this workload is not decreasing.
This research is investigating the teachers’ perception/attitude on assessment, teachers’ assessment practices, and challenges faced by teachers while carrying out assessments in overcrowded classrooms.