A CRITICAL ANAYSIS OF THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF MASS FAILURE IN MATHEMATICS IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS (A CASE STUDY OF UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA)
There has been a problem
for some years now, student’s poor academic performance in senior secondary
School certificate examination. It is always on the increase, in the light of
this significant problem that this study is based to find out the causes and effect
of mass failure in senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) in
Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa ibom State, however, the centre of interest
is on senior mathematics examination. In the process of the study, three (3)
research questions were formulated and tested, to validate these research
questions ten (10) schools was randomly selected from the entire population.
Research instrument in form of questionnaire was administered to the area
involved in the study. On the whole, two hundred and fifty (250) respondents
were collected. Based on the findings of this study, some recommendation were
made as follows, government and other stakeholders in education should provide
adequate facilities and conducive environment to enable teachers functions
effectively, and teachers on their part, must assume positive professional
attitude, and show more willingness, more moral maturity and more commitment in
the conduct of their professional duties. Government should employ more
qualified teachers and those with qualification lower than (NCE) should be
sponsored for in-service training and distance education programme.
Conclusively, more effort should be made to improve the teaching and learning
of mathematics in senior secondary schools for positive change in student
1.0 Background of the Study
For Nigeria to realize her
dream in the development of Senior Secondary School, the citizens of the
country must show outstanding performance in all secondary school subjects.
In recent years, student academic achievement in senior
secondary school certificate examination mathematics.
The word “Mathematics” is a Greek word, meaning things that
are learned. Majasa (1995) further defined it as the science of counting,
measuring and describing of the shape of objects. It deals with logical
reasoning and quantitative calculations. Mathematics as a school subject is
recognized as the foundation of science and technology without which a nation
will never become prosperous and economically independent. This underscores the
importance of mathematical competence of all the learners al all levesl of
education and a reason for making mathematics compulsory and one of the leading
core subject in the secondary schools curriculum. This importance accorded the
recognition of the vital role it plays in contemporary society. Despite the
effort put in by government, and various stakeholders of education, mathematics
still remained one of the most difficult subject in schools.
There is a general impression that mathematics is difficult by
its very nature, and because of this impression, there is poor performance
among senior secondary school students who are the focus of this study. This
poor performance in mathematics has been attributed to two broad factors which
include: Hereditary and environmental factors which can be subdivided into
students, home, teachers, and school factors. Ola (1998).
However, students reason that mathematics is highly structured
and is so abstract and required special intellectual attitude. Thus; students
see the subject as something esoteric. Emenalo (1986) in Nwogu (1990)
articulated the fact thtae inherent notion held by many Africans that
mathematics is a very difficult subject which is capable of making one “mad” is
at the centre of the phobia which students exhibits for mathematics and which
had claimed many causalities over the years, Nworgu (1990:123), therefore
passes the question “how them would any person in fairness expect our poor and
innocent children to be as courageous as to face something which is capable of
making even an adult mad? The students would prefer to so something else no
matter how difficult rather than to attend mathematics classes.
Most parents do not play a crucial role in preparing their
children for school. The child is expected to see the world from the
perspective of these archaic values and the goodness of otherwise of his
behaviour is judged as such. Opposition from the child arises from what appears
to him obsolete and defense of traditionalism by the parents. For example,
Whaler (1997) argues that consistent and appropriate parental reactions to the
full range of a child’s response repertoire will establish a family context
conducive to positive reinforcement of child compliance. In contrast,
inconsistent parental reactions appear to create a chaotic family context
conducive to the negative reinforcement of child opposition. He argues that
based on these two forms of contexts, the parent and children seen to generate
distinctive personal rules which outline the functions arrangements of
contexts, behaviour and reinforcement. Parents on their part hardly requires
their children to explain the problem or joy found in their mathematics
classes. And this count as one of the causes of poor performance of students in
Teachers of senior mathematics are hard to come-by because of
the site of some schools especially the schools in Uyo local Government Area of
Akwa ibom State. The few available teachers have not been given opportunities to
up-date the skill and knowledge available in-service training. Teachers have an
important part to play in learning mathematics by students. According to Nicol
(1997) “A teacher can only be seen to be effective, if the students can learn
with greater ease and perform well his help than without his help.
Teacher’s attitude can hinder learning especially when one
does not present oneself as a high intellectual and formidable person. “A quack
doctor is capable to handle an individual as a time but a bad teacher can ruin
not only the individual but also a nation. Nigeria is faced with the problem of
competent teachers in mathematics which is the major causes of this mass
failure of student in mathematics.
The school administrator also has a direct role to play as if
relates to discipline of both the student and the teacher supervision of
teaching and learning and preparation of students well enough for examination.
According to Ekemia (2006:38) “An effective mental health for
principal includes emotional, stability, maturity of character and a large
capacity of frustration tolerance with the strength to withstand the strain the
strain and stress inherent in running today’s Nigeria secondary school without
undue fiscal or psychological disequilibria”.
Many principals are faced with managerial difficulties
especially those who lack human relationship cannot execute effective
administrative duties in the schools. For example, a school that lacks
discipline hardly achieves the aim and objective of the educational system.
Through these factors enumerated above, it could be seen that, there are many
causes attributed to mass failure in mathematics examination in senior
secondary school certificate examination. The senior secondary school
certificate examination is an external examination organized and conducted by
the ministry of education. The establishment of this senior secondary school
education by the state government in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa ibom
State like any other states has the same aims and objectives as the national
policy on education specified that secondary education is the education
received after primary education and before the tertiary institution.
According to Adewale (1992), it is the only instrument that
could evaluate the performance of both students and teachers at the end of
senior secondary school career. He further stated that, the success or failure
of the student in examination is a clear manifestation of the student academic
activities during the course. Success or good performance determines a brighter
future for the student wile failure is disastrous as it always indicate a
dropout which is the common effect in the area of this study.
Finally, it is obvious that the findings of the study will
definitely aspire the researcher to seek for possible suggestions and
recommendations to students, teachers, parents, sponsor and government to bring
an end to student mass failure of mathematics in a such external senior
certificate examination and to improve student performance in the future
examination in these schools and other part of the country having similar
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Perhaps not much attention has been given to the performance
of students in senior secondary school subjects in recent years. This neglect,
no doubt has relegated this senior subjects to the background in our senior
secondary certificate examination. A close look at the 2004/2008 SSCE result
records, confirms that students’ performance has been very poor generally and
the increase number of school dropout in the area of study is a clear pointer
of the theme. The poor performance is caused by many factors such as; students
ineffective study techniques, quality of teachers and method of teaching, the
parent’s inability to provide useful materials like textbooks, exercise books
and school fees and problem of inadequate instructional materials for teaching
and learning of mathematics in schools.
In philosophical view of these causes, this study therefore is
specifically designed to assess the causes and effects of mass failure of
mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in Uyo Local
Government Area of Akwa ibom State.
1.2 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this
study is to find out the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in
senior secondary school certificate examination. The interests of the
researchers are to examine critically and identify the causes and effects of
mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination
specifically, the study sought to find out if:-
There are sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and
instructional materials for teaching of mathematics.
The previous socio-economic background of the students affect them in
The attitude and interest of students towards the nature of mathematics
contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in mathematics.
1.3 Significance of the Study
The student will be able to
appreciate the importance of the effective domain like interest and motivation
in improving their performance. With this awareness, the student might put up a
positive attitude towards mathematics which will increase their performance and
enhance higher grades in senior secondary school certificate examination.
Teachers will also be able to adjust their teaching methods and offer remedial
helps where they find out that students are putting up a low attitude. State
government will also see the need of guidance and counseling in each schools,
the ministry of education and curriculum planners for better organization of
senior subjects in education.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study was focused on the causes and effect
of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate
examination in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa ibom State. Due to military
factors such as time and other resources and the inconvenience of handling a
large scope, the researchers focused only on senior mathematics.
1.5 Research of the Study
To carry out a detailed study of the research, the following
research question will guide to study:-
Are there sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and
instructional materials for teaching mathematics?
Does the previous socio-economic background of the students affect them
in studying mathematics?
Does poor attitude and low interest of students towards the nature of
mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in