AN ASSESSMENT OF THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD AND DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN ESAN WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EDO STATE, NIGERIA
The study was carried out to investigate the influence of school environment on academic achievement of students in Esan West LGA of Edo State public secondary schools. The design of the study is descriptive while the population comprised principals and teachers in the education zone. The sample size for the study was 600 respondents while a researchers’ self developed questionnaire formed the instrument for data collection. Three experts validated the instrument and a cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient method was employed to ensure the reliability of the instrument. Four research questions and two null hypotheses guided the study; while student t-test statistics was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significant. A review of empirical studies was carried out to guide the researcher into previous studies in the area and also to provide the researcher with the theoretical base. A 29-item questionnaire was used to get information from the respondents. Based on the data collected and analyzed, the following results were obtained. That staff office, classroom spaces for teaching students and staff common room represented the major areas that to a great extent affect the academic achievement of students in public schools, with regard to buildings. It was also revealed that desks, current books and presence of library assistants constituted the areas of influence to the academic achievement of the students with regard to library services in the public secondary schools. Both the principals and teachers agreed that access to reading materials in the school, lack of facilities, and nearness to school and in sufficient qualified teachers very greatly affect the academic achievement of the students. Inadequate teaching materials were also noted as a major factor affecting the students’ academic achievement. The two groups also shared common views in terms of the great influence of school health services, fencing of school for security and provision of power supply as important variable affecting the academic achievement of the students of public secondary schools. Based on the above, the researcher recommends that schools should be provided with functional libraries, equipped with current reading materials to help enhance both the students’ academic achievement and the teachers’ effectiveness in academic activities in the school.
Background to the study
Generally in the whole world, particularly in Nigeria, education has been considered to be the corner - stone for development. It forms the basis for literacy, skill acquisition, technological advancement and ability to harness human and material resources towards the achievement of societal goal, (FRN, 2004).
Education is very important in any given society. It is a process by which abilities and capabilities of individual are developed. These abilities might be physical abilities, emotional abilities, social abilities and intellectual abilities. It is the actualizing of human potential so that the individual can become something more than what he was before. According to Ugwuanyi (2003) education is the process by which society establishes to assist the young to learn and understand the heritage of the past, participate productively in the society and contribute meaningfully for the development of the society. Emeka (2008) citing Kneller (2000) sees education as a process by which any society through schools, colleges, universities and other institutions deliberately transmit knowledge, values and skills from one person to another. As a result of deregulation in Nigerian education, the system of education has two main interest groups – public education and private education.
Public education is the pillar or backbone of society which opens the door of equal educational opportunity to all citizens. It is a public owned property which attracts public attention constantly. According to
Ukeje in Akpa, Udoh and Faghamiye (2005):
Public school is concerned with the acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competencies of both mental and physical nature as equipment for the individual to live in this society, and acquisition of a relevant and balanced knowledge of facts about local and world phenomena. (P. 12-13)
Public schools can also be seen as those schools controlled neither by individuals nor by private interest or agencies but by those who represent the society as a whole. In other words public schools are those schools which are supported and controlled by the government of the state or nation.
Private schools are those schools that are not administered by local, state or national government, which retain the right to select their student body and are founded in whole or part by charging their students tuition rather than with public funds. This means that the school established by the missionaries, individuals and voluntary organizations belong to this group. According to Hernes (2001) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the world Bank, private educational institutions are those that are not operated by a public authority, but are controlled and managed by a private body or board of governors not selected by a public agency on selected by public vote. The institution may be run by or operated by non governmental organizations (NGOS) or business enterprise.
Secondary school is the stage of education following primary school. It is generally the final stage of compulsory education. Webster (2009) sees secondary school as a school intermediate between elementary school and collage usually offering general technical, vocational or college- preparatory course, while Collins (2003) refers to it as a school for young people, usually between the ages of eleven and eighteen. As for the National policy on education (FRN, 2004) it is the form of education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage.
Environment can be defined as a system within which living organisms interacts with the physical element while education environment is a learning place where the learner learn and interact with learning facilities in order to be socialized and face the challenges in the society. Agusiegbe (2004) sees environments as consisting of all elements existing around man and which exert some influence on him. These include physical, biological and social attributes. Environment can also be seen as aggregate of all the external condition and influence affecting the life and development of an organism.
In this study, environment includes all the external condition and influences in the school that affect the academic achievement of the student such as laboratory equipment, library facilities, qualified teachers, furniture, school building, good administrative management, teacher pupil relationship and school location among others. Environment for the purpose of this work can be divided into two parts- home environment and school environment.
School environment is the thread that connects the multitude of activities on the school. In many respects, this thread is almost invisible, yet everyone experiences its influence. Dudek (2000) opined that it could be said to be the external influences in the school that can influence academic achievement of students irrespective of their intelligent quotient. School environment can also be considered as the second teacher since space has the power to organize and promote pleasant relationships between people of different ages, to provide changes, to promote choices and activities and for its potential for sparking different types of social and affective learning (Okeke 2001). It has been generally accepted that environment and heredity can hardly be separated from education in influencing achievement, hence a child’s life and ability is influenced by nature and nurture. Heredity provides the natural disposition while a healthy environment makes available a window of opportunities to the learner (Ohuche 2001). The environmental variable of the setting helps to a large extent in ensuring attainability of the goals of such setting. The environmental differences and the differences in the quality of instruction from one school to another can create differences in the level of knowledge acquisition of the students. This shows that the learning facilities children are exposed to and the socio-economic influence on them can affect their academic achievement.
School environment includes the school building and the surrounding grounds such as noise, temperature and lighting as well as physical, biological or chemical agent, (Chiu 1991). School environment can then be seen to include material and human resources, a learning place which consist of the entire interaction. The learning environment is both the natural and provided setting where teaching and learning takes place. Maduewesi (1990) referred to teaching and learning environment as the setting physical and conceptual in which teaching and learning are carried out as deliberately planned. And to Okobia in Maduewesi (1990) learning environment means classroom surroundings, physical facilities in the classroom and teacher – pupil relationship.
Studies on the relationship between availability of resources and students academic achievement have revealed that secondary schools provided with adequate education resources performed significantly better than those provided with inadequate resources (Balogun, 1995). Environment is a very important factor in achievement of goal of any educational programme. People acquire most of their knowledge through the interaction with facilities provided in the environment for learning. Also learning is influenced by the environment people are exposed to and the facilities provided in such environment lead to experience. As in the words of Piaget (1964) that active interaction with the environment is regarded as the most basic requirement for proper intellectual development.
The physical appearance and general condition of school physical facilities are the striking basis upon which many parents and friends of any educational institution make initial judgment about the quality of what goes on in the school. They are often turned off by dilapidated school blocks with sinking roofs and broken walls, bushy lawn and over grown hedges. Also are profane writings on walls, littered lawns and path ways. Finally, the school physical environment is like a mirror reflecting the image of a school and through it the public decide whether or not to associate with the particular school (Mgbodile 2004).
In Nigeria today, schools are closely associated with the communities. Most communities depend on the neighbourhood school for the provision of good and appropriate environment for accommodation, furniture and all form of equipment for certain activities like club or village meetings, wedding reception and church services. There is need for a well planned and organized educational environmental enrichment because it fosters good interpersonal relationship. Moreover, Ajayi and Ashaolu (2005) opined that
environmental enrichment regarding physical facilities is a major factor in students’ academic achievement. Supporting this Ayodele (2005) and Ajayi (2007), have shown that school resources aid students academic achievement.
It is now certain that most of secondary school products cannot gain admission into federal universities or university of their choice due to poor performance in the placement examination into these schools. This poor performance may be attributed to poor learning environment especially in the following areas: schools building, library services, and school location and school facilities.
School building: These are tangible structures which serve as shelter for educational activities. They include among others classroom, laboratories, workshops, and teacher’s common rooms/offices, reading rooms, libraries, dormitories and dinning hall. Despite the evidence that the quality of a school building affect students’ academic achievement, most public schools, in Esan West LGA of Edo State are in poor physical condition. It is in line with this that Earthman (2004) opined that the building in which students spends a good deal of learning does influence how well they learn.
(Mgbodile2004 ) have pointed out that for effective teaching and learning situation, school building and educational goals, should be viewed as being interwoven. Apart from protecting the pupils from the sun, rain, heat and cold, school building represent learning environment which has great impact on the comfort, safety and performance of the children.
Library services: The school library is a room or building in a school where books, magazines, journals, periodicals, cassettes, computers among others are kept for student’s use. In other words, it is the central laboratory of the whole school, where all books in all subject areas, taught in the school and non-book materials are stocked. Dike (2001) sees school library as a learning laboratory par excellence where learners find the world of knowledge, interact directly with resources, acquire information and develop research skill for life long learning.
The objective of the school library is to serve the school’s need and to make possible the purpose and methods of education which the school undertakes. The school library enables the students to look to new ways of learning, and with its resources can play a programme of work that aims at new ambition’s education result which would be impossible if learning were restricted to the use of direct teaching and textbook alone.
School location: A school could be located in the urban or rural area. Rural schools are generally inferior to urban schools as schools in rural areas lacked human and material resources needed for success at school. The location of school whether urban or rural affects a child’s ability to study and perform at the level expected of him. Mkpugbe (1998) noted that different aspects of school environment (rural and urban) influences students achievement. She further stated that the individual student’s academic behaviour is influenced not only by the motivating forces of his home, scholastic ability, and academic values but also by the social pressure applied by the participants in the school setting.
Also differences in location imply differences in the existence of demographic and socio-economic parameters of the school. As stated by Imoagene (1988) in Akubue and Ifelunni (2006) that because of urban involvement, students in urban schools perform better than those in rural schools in language learning. The reason he gave include the fact that rural students have limited access to reading materials, inadequate reading culture and insufficient graduate teachers in rural schools.
Therefore, the location of school has tremendous influence on children’s academic achievement.
School facilities: School facilities refer to inputs which ease the operation of academic activities. They include desks, chairs, blackboards, dustbins, teaching aids, typewriters, computers generators, and calculators and so on. School facilities according to Ehiametalor (2001) are operational inputs of every instructional programme. They are material resources that facilitate effective teaching and learning in schools. The quality and quantity of school facilities enhance the quality of teaching and learning as well as effective school management (Ojedele, 2003).
Furthermore, educational facilities are needed to develop cognitive areas of knowledge, abilities and skills that are necessary for academic achievement. Moreover, the development of the affective and psychomotor domain is also facilitated by the presence of necessary and relevant school facilities.
From the fore going one can see that school environment plays a crucial role in academic achievement of a child. This problem of poor performance is more pronounced in ill-equipped schools hence it becomes necessary to find out the influence of school environment on the academic achievement of students of public secondary schools in Esan West LGA of Edo State.
Statement of the problem
The problem under study has to do with an unsatisfactory condition of the educational system being operated in Nigeria. The establishment of government schools/community schools has resulted in a situation where by some school were favoured in terms of the
provision of rich environment than others. It has been very difficult if not impossible for government to standardize the school environment. Thus the environment varies from school to school.
Some schools have adequate school buildings, good library and suitable textbooks, good administrative management, professionally qualified teachers, good laboratory equipments as well as good location. While in some schools little or none of these exist. It is because of this that Chike-Okoli (1997) in line with Ikediashi (2002) have pointed out that poor teaching experience, inadequate or poor physical infrastructure, unsatisfactory building design are likely to cause some physical discomfort for the students and are therefore bound to influence their academic achievement. The problem of this study put in a question form is: What is the influence of school facilities and equipment on the academic achievement of students of public secondary schools in Esan West LGA of Edo State?
Purpose of the study
The main purpose of the study is to determine the influence of school environment on the academic achievement of students of public secondary school in Esan West LGA of Edo State. Specifically the study intends to:
1. Investigate the extent the quality of the physical school environment with regard to school buildings affect the academic achievements of students of public secondary school in Esan West LGA of Edo State.
2. Determine the extent the library services affects academic achievement of students of public secondary schools in Esan West LGA of Edo State.
3. Find out the extent school location affect student’s academic achievement of public secondary schools.
4. Ascertain the extents the school facilities affect students academic achievement of public secondary schools.
Significance of the study
The findings from this study will be of immense benefits to the government, principals, teachers, parents as well as student
The findings will help the government or the policy makers in formulating effective planning and implementation policies and programmes for improved school academic activities. It will also provide policy makers with intelligent forecast and analysis of future needs of the schools in the areas of building and facilities.
It will provide the school principals the opportunity to improve in school supervision so as to ensure both quality teaching and learning in the schools. It will enable them appreciate the contribution of school facilities and equipment on students academic achievement. The findings will enable the teachers to appreciate the need for proper instructional delivery. It will help the teacher to improve both in teaching effectiveness and increased productivity in the schools.
It will help the parents in determining the choice of the type of school for their children. This is because, their wards will enjoy good school learning environment that will lead to quality school products. Finally, it will be of benefit to the student researchers as it will provide a valid working document or literature in investigating other areas not covered by this study. Thus, it will serve as a point of reference to future researchers in the field.
Scope of the study
The study is delimited to the influence of school environment on the students’ achievement of public secondary schools in Esan West LGA of Edo State. The content area covers school building, library services, school location and school facilities.
The following research questions will guide the study:
1. To what extent do the qualities of the physical school environment with regard to school building affect the academic achievements of students of public secondary schools?
2. To what extent do the library services affect the academic achievements of students of public secondary schools?
3. How does school location affect academic achievements of students of public secondary schools?
4. To what extent do the school facilities affect students’ academic achievements of public secondary schools?
Two null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and will be tested at 0.05 level of significant.
HO1: There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of teachers in urban and those in rural school on the extent school building affect the achievements of students of public secondary schools.
HO2: Male and female teachers do not differ significantly in their mean ratings with regard to the extent school facilities affect students’