1.1 Background of the Study
The nation’s overall development is inextricably tied to its educational system, since education is a light that shows mankind the right direction to surge as well as being an engine for the growth and progress of any society. It not only imparts knowledge, skills and inculcates values, but is also responsible for building human capital which breeds, drives and sets technological innovation and economic growth (Osakinle, 2010). Education in its broadest meaning is any process by which an individual gains knowledge an insight or develops attitudes or skills. It is an experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual, and in its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, values, skills from one generation to another generation (Holmes, 2001).
The function of education is both social and individual. Its social function is to help each individual become more effective member of society by passing along to him the collective experience of the past and the present. Its individual function is to enable him to lead a more satisfying and productive life by preparing him to handle new experience successfully (Sadler, 2000). This can only be achieved when the environment of the school is encouraging. Students are individuals who accumulate knowledge with the help of the teachers in a motivating and encouraging school environment. The learning experience accumulated in a sound school environment serve as the bridge to overcome life’s circumstances and eventually becomes a more effective member of the society. With this view, there is the need to introduce quality into the system by creating sound and conducive environment for teaching and learning process.
In Nigeria, secondary education aims at preparing an individual for useful living within the society, and higher education. Specifically, it aims at; providing all primary school leavers with the opportunity for education of higher level irrespective of sex, social status, religious or ethnic background; Offering diversified curriculum to cater for differences in talents, opportunities, and future roles; Providing trained manpower in applied science, technology, and commerce at sub-professional grades; Developing and promoting Nigerian languages, arts and culture in the context of the world’s cultural heritage; Inspiring students with a desire for self-improvement and achievement of excellence; Fostering national unity with emphasis on the common ties that unite us in our diversity; Raising a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others, respect the dignity of labour, appreciate those values specified under our broad national goals, and live as good citizens; and Providing technical knowledge and vocational skills, necessary for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and economic development (National Policy on Education, 2014).
However, school variables according to Ajayi (2011) is a school’s physical surrounding, which includes the classrooms, school location, libraries, technical workshops, laboratories, teachers’ quality, school management, teaching methods, peers, buildings and school type. They are variables that affect students’ academic achievement either positively or negatively. Hence, the school factors remain an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance students’ academic performance. George (2010) added that the extent to which student learning could be enhanced depends on their location within the school compound, the structure of their classroom, availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students.
Thus, for learning to take place and the performance of students enhanced, the school must be stimulating and encouraging. The school environment must be inviting or welcoming, conducive and accommodating for adequate and effective learning to take place. According to Grant (2005), school buildings should be a suitable building furnished and well equipped for habitation. As dilapidating buildings, lacking mental stimulating facilities that are characterized with low or no seating arrangement will also be destructive to students’ academic achievement. It has been proved that students that are taught in stimulating environment with laboratory equipment, rich instructional aids, pictures and are allowed to demonstrate using their functional peripheral nerves like eyes, hands and sense of taste performed better than those trained under theoretical and canopy of abstraction.
However, Marsden (2005) opined that the extent to which students learning could be enhanced depends on certain factors (school variables) such as school facilities, school location, teachers’ qualification, class size and school type. It is believed that a well planned school with these variables will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students.
School facilities are school equipment and materials used in facilitating the teaching learning process. An effective school facility is responsive to the changing programs of educational delivery, and at a minimum should provide a physical environment that is comfortable, safe, secure, accessible, well illuminated, well ventilated, and aesthetically pleasing (Bello, 2011). These facilities include; a well equipped library, a well equipped laboratory, seats, tables, chalkboard, lighting, charts, maps and computers with internet connection. The facility also includes furnishings, materials and supplies, equipment and information technology, as well as various aspects of the building grounds, namely, athletic fields, playgrounds, areas for outdoor learning, and vehicular access and parking. Marsden (2005) reported that safe and orderly classroom environment (aspect of instructional space), School facilities (accessories) were significantly related to students’ academic performance in schools. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among students as well as teachers, which leads to poor performance and higher absentee rates (Marsden, 2005). These factors can adversely affect student behavior and lead to higher levels of frustration among teachers, and poor learning attitude among student. It is against this background that this work is undertaken.
1.2 Statement of the Problems
Academic attainment is an important parameter in measuring success in students. Observations and reports have shown that success or high academic achievement has become a herculean task to accomplish by students in recent times. Poor academic performance were recorded both at the secondary and tertiary levels of education in Nigeria (Essien, 2012). This poor performance of students at all levels in educational institutions in Nigeria has attracted much criticisms from all and sundry from time immemorial. Soyinka (2012) observed the decline in the academic performance of students in post primary institutions and maintained that secondary school system in Nigeria needed restructuring. He went further to say that academic standard had fallen drastically and the quality of secondary schools graduates being produced is questionable and subject to re-examination.
It becomes necessary to find out the causes of such poor performance in our secondary schools. Though, these poor performances have been attributed to a lot of indicators such as students’ factors and the home factors; the school factors and other exogenous variables are thought to have also determine students’ academic success in schools. The interest of this research has been activated by the fact that all the effort made by Akwa Ibom State government to improve the academic performance of secondary school students has not yielded the desired result. it is against this backdrop that this study is conducted to examine whether the following school variables (school facilities, teachers qualification, school location, class size and school type) determines academic success of a child in secondary schools in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the effects of school variables on students’ academic performance in economics in Essien Udim Local Government Area. Specifically, the study sought to;
i. Examine the influence of school facilities (well equipped and poorly equipped) on academic performance of students in Economics.
ii. Examine the influence of teachers’ qualification (qualified and unqualified) on academic performance of students in Economics.
iii. Examine the influence of school location (urban and rural) on academic performance of students in Economics.
iv. Examine the influence of class size (large and small) on academic performance of students in Economics.
v. Examine the influence of school type (boarding and day school) on academic performance of students in Economics.
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the above specific objectives, the following research questions are raised to direct the study.
i. Do students taught in a school that is well equipped with facilities and those taught in a school that is poorly equipped with facilities differ in their academic performance in Economics?
ii. Do students taught by qualified teachers and those taught by unqualified teachers differ in their academic performance in Economics?
iii. Do students in urban schools and those in rural schools differ in their academic performance in Economics?
iv. Do students taught in a small class size and those taught in a large class size differ in their academic performance in Economics?
v. Do students attending boarding school and those attending day school differ in their academic performance in Economic?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
To address the above research questions and achieve the above stated objectives, the following hypotheses are formulated. However, H0 and H1 denote null and alternative hypotheses respectively.
i. H0: There is no significant difference in academic performance of students taught in a school that is well equipped with facilities and those taught in a school that is poorly equipped with facilities.
H1: There is a significant difference in academic performance of students taught in a school that is well equipped with facilities and those taught in a school that is poorly equipped with facilities.
ii. H0: There is no significant difference in academic performance of students taught by qualified teachers and those taught by unqualified teachers.
H1: There is a significant difference in academic performance of students taught by qualified teachers and those taught by unqualified.
iii. H0: There is no significant difference in academic performance of students in urban schools and those in rural schools.
H1: There is a significant difference in academic performance of students in urban schools and those in rural schools.
iv. H0: There is no significant difference in academic performance of students taught in a small class size and those taught in a large class size.
H1: There is a significant difference in academic performance of students taught in a small class size and those taught in a large class size.
v. H0: There is no significant difference in academic performance students attending boarding school and those attending day school.
H1: There is a significant difference in academic performance students attending boarding schools and those attending day schools.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This finding would be of great significance for educational planners, policy makers and both Federal and state governments as they will take into consideration these factors while planning and also providing for secondary education. This study will help educational planners and policy makers to see the need to equip all schools equally despite their location in terms of provision of infrastructural amenities, improved teachers quality and quantity and also regular supervision of the teaching of Economics in our schools irrespective of their locations. It will help teachers to upgrade themselves so as to improve their own educational standard as well as their skill and approaches.
It will help the educators to understand better about those school factors that may contribute in the academic success of students in secondary schools. The findings will update literature on parental factors that affect the performance of students in secondary schools. The findings will be of benefit to students as some recommendations made will serve as sources of motivation to them. The findings will provide a framework for further research and thereby adding to the existing literature on the subject matter. Finally, it is hoped that when this research work is completed, the learners, parents, teachers, ministry of education, curriculum planners, government and the entire society will benefit from the findings by formulating policies that will bridge the gap between children of high status and that of the low status in respect of their academic performance in school.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This work is intended to examine the influence of school variables on academic performance of students in Economics. The study concentrated on Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. It is delimitated to variables such as school facilities, teachers qualification, school location, class size and school type. Information and data needed for this study would be gathered from primary source with the use of a questionnaire.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
In the course of this study, the researcher faced some challenges. One of such challenges was lack of standardized form of instrument for data collection. This made the researcher to depend totally on the responses and opinion of the respondents of which some respondents may have given unreliable responses. The study also interfered with the regular academic calendar of the selected schools, whereby the school teachers adjusted their normal activity to accommodate the study.
1.9 Operational Definitions of Terms
School variables: These are school factors that exert either positive or negative influence on students.
Academic performance: Academic performance is the outcome of education — the extent to which students achieved their educational goals. It is commonly measured by examinations or continuous assessment.
School Location: A place where a school is situated, which could be urban area or rural area.
Class Size: This means the number of students in a class which varies considerably from school to school.