CHALLENGES FACING THE TEACHING AND TEACHERS OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background of the Study
The high rate of moral decay and insurrections in the Nigerian nation is a sign that the secondary school system’s religious instruction is lacking.
Being one of the religious disciplines taught in secondary schools in Nigeria, Christian Religious Studies (CRS), plays a crucial role in promoting the moral and spiritual well-being of people in society.
The objectives of CRS at the senior secondary level, which include giving Nigerian youths more opportunities to learn more about god and thereby develop their faith in god; enabling the youths to accept Christ as their savior; and assisting the youths in developing Christian attitudes and moral values (such as respect for authority) make clear the crucial roles of CRS in empowering individuals and ensuring high levels of morality.
Without good religious studies, Nigeria’s nation is likely to have social instability, insurrections, violence, and religious crises, among other things.
This is due to the influence of religion on people’s social, political, economic, and other behavior (Eluu, 2009).
The pioneers of Nigerian education began teaching CRS in the 19th century (Banjo, 2003).
because of the moral lessons it imparts to the populace under the administration of the missionaries.
Following the government’s takeover of the educational system, the secondary school curricula in Nigeria were overhauled, with a greater focus being placed on the study of technology and scientific subjects.
This change had an impact on students’ academic pursuits and interest in CRS, which resulted in low enrollment in CRS.
Gbenda (2004) emphasizes that, among other things, a lack of proper teaching materials, qualified instructors, and incentives could all contribute to students’ interest in and enrolment in CRS.
Njoku (2009) also asserted that the low student enrollment in CRS could be due to the educational delivery method and personality of the professors.
All senior secondary schools in Nigeria offer CRS as an elective course of study.
Due to the subject’s elective status in Nigeria’s senior secondary schools, fewer pupils registered for it in external examinations like the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).
CRS is a subject that grounds its instruction on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (Ugwu, 2001). As a teaching subject, it is essential for the student’s spiritual upliftment as well as value development, orientation, and reorientation of their value system.
According to Ali and Akubue in Njoku (2009), CRS is a topic that tries to cultivate in students’ lives Christian attitudes and values such respect for human life, adherence to constitutional authority, personal responsibility, and selflessness toward God and humanity.
They view CRS as a subject of study intended to help the learner undergo moral and spiritual transformation.
According to this, CRS is the study.
Obanya in Njoku (2004) maintained that CRS like every other subjects has five features. These features are; a set of rational theoretical formulation, inherent capacity for growth, applicable solution to human problems, organized Body of the knowledge and a degree of uniformity with other area of academic activities. In the context of this study, CRS is defined as a social science subject that teaches students good moral behaviour, fearing of God, knowledge and skills that will make them to contribute their quota in socio-economic and moral development in senior secondary schools.
The inclusion of sound religions and moral values in the life of students invariably could help in the development of spiritual and moral sound being of the students. These important values attached to the study of CRS in schools cannot be achieved if teachers do not utilized effective teaching method that appeals to all the senses of students in leaning situations.
Teaching method as noted by Agwu (2005) refers to the overall plan for the orderly presentation of content of learning materials. Usually a method is driven by a philosophy or an assumption about how students learn in school. Teaching method is therefore, a general process the teacher adopts in presenting his lesson to the students, such that students learn such as assigning roles to individual students in the classroom.
The important index in the teaching and learning process is that the students learn at the end of teaching (Aguokogbuo, 2005). Hence, the use of good teaching method in teaching of CRS plays an important role in harmonizing classroom instruction.
Nevertheless, it has been noted with dismay that even a subject as important as CRS is taught using the traditional lecture method (talk and chalk) (Asogwa & Echemazu, 2011). This old method, conventional as it is, appears to have reduced students’ interest and enrollment in the subject each year for both WAEC and NECO. For instance, Abdulhamid (2010) found that lecture method used by teachers have made many student lost their interest in classroom of learning and consequently may reduce students enrollment in some subject areas. He added that the use of lecture method set the teacher as the only active participant in the class while the students are complete observers or admirers through the lesson.
The theory of constructivism sees learning as the active participation in various activities within and outside the classroom. Therefore, inability of teachers to use methods that encourages students’ active participation could lead students to laziness, role memorization which even actually kills students’ interest and attitudes towards the learning of CRS.
The theory of multiple intelligences holds the view that human being has fine separate intelligences (visual/spatial, verbal and logical, body/kinetic, musical, inter-personal intelligences). Therefore, if educators teach their students using methods that utilizes these intelligences in learning would promote students’ interest in learning process. Asogwa and Echemazu (2011) opines that most teachers rely on lecture method because of their experiences as most of them still regarded the way they were taught in their own days as the best way to teach in this modern times.
Organizing for effective teaching of Christian Religious studies is centered on certain factors such as “what to teach”, “when to teach” and “how to teach”. The teacher does not only teach the most relevant, meaningful and useful materials for specific students, he must also recognized and adopted a good and well-researched method of teaching that guarantees better understanding and also stimulates and motivate students’ achievement (Abdukamid, 2010).
Academic achievement is the degree or level of success attained at the end of an academic endeavour (Omebe, 2005). The yardstick for measuring one’s level of academic achievement is by assessing the academic performance of the individual through test and observation. He further explained that academic achievement has three dimensions such as high, average and low academic achievement. Academic achievement helps in proper evaluation of students and identification of their strength and weakness. However, in the context of this study, academic achievement is the relative change in behaviour of students as a result of effective teaching and learning of CRS in secondary schools.
The issue of high or low academic achievement of secondary school students in CRS has been attributed to some factors such as the school environment, peer influence, the family dynamics, etc (Ekeh and Njoku, 2013). But, of all these factors, the researcher feels that role-play method of teaching play key role in relation to students’ academic achievement in CRS.
Role-play method is a dramatic and innovative training technique which helps students to develop both cognitive and affective components of perception and helps in knowing how people behave and why people behave in different ways (Charturvedi, 2009). Oberle (2004) maintained that role-playing activities introduce students to “real world” situations. He added that feelings as well as avenue for expressing personal and sometimes unpopular attitudes and opinions. This indicates that role-playing is highly motivating as the majority of students enjoys these types of activities and become more inspired learners. Morris (2003) found that the role-playing helped the students engage in activities at multiple times and places which help them to retain information in their brain always (Morris, 2003, p.3).
In role-playing, the teacher first of all gives students roles to play in a classroom and he directs them on what to do. At the end of students’ participation, he/she summarizes the activities in order for students to understand it clearly. In the context of this study, role play method could be referred to activities engaged by teachers and students in the classroom in order to enhance desirable change in behaviour of learner and maximize their interest and academic achievement in CRS in secondary schools.
The trend of school achievement among secondary school students’ in recent times has not been encouraging. It is in recognition that statistics from the West African Examination Council WAEC Chief Examiners reports in (2005) reveals that, the number of candidates that entered for CRS, for instance has been encouraging over the years while their percentage pass at credit level in the senior school certificate examination (SSCE) has been following a downward trend. In the year 2002, 2003, 2004, for instance, only 48.7%, 49.2%, 39.9% and 47.3% passed CRS at credit level respectively.
Currently, the numbers of candidates that enroll in CRS have reduced as a result of shift in emphasis to science subjects and entrepreneurship education. According to WAEC Chief Examiners’ reports in 2012 and 2013, there is low performance of students in CRS in WASCE, 62.03% failed while 37.9% passed. The number that failed is greater than the number that passed. The continuous poor achievement of secondary school students in CRS over the decades could be attributed to poor methods of teaching. Thus employing good method of teaching like role-play could improve students’ interest and achievement in CRS in senior secondary school.
Nevertheless, there has been an endless debate on factors that influences students’ academic achievement secondary. However, in the context of this study “gender” and interest is considered as variables that could influence students’ interest and achievement in CRS in secondary schools in Ebonyi Central Education Zone. Gender is a socially constructed concept based on the assumed power and position that group human should possess (Afonga, 2002). Gender in the context of this study simply means the difference between males and females as well as their relative roles perform in CRS in learning process. Ezeadum (2011) found thatgender is a significant factor in students’ academic achievement in Agricultural sciences. Other researcher such as Umoh (2001), found otherwise in Igbo and English language respectively. Melton and Serep (2007) found that women perform better than men in French in schools.
Asogwa (2011) found that the effect of gender on students’ academic achievement is statistically significant. Gender is a very important variable in this study because personal orientation and thinking style of male and female students could play a crucial role in performance in school. In this study, gender refers to different roles played by male and female students in learning and how it affects their interest and achievement in CRS in secondary schools.
Students’ interest is another factor that determines students’ academic achievement in schools. Interest can be defined as a psychological state of having an affective reaction to and focused attention for particular content and/or the relatively enduring predisposition to re-engage particular class of objects events, or ideas (Omebe, 2005).
Dewey in long (2007) defines interest as the formation of a relationship between a person and an object. Interest could also be essentially a function of the perceived likelihood to succeed on a specific group of tasks and the value of a consequence of doing well (Ainley, 2002). The way each person learns depends on interest. For instance, some students prefer to learn complete subject matter by heart while others search for meaning.
Students’ differences in learning preferences have often been related to a number of individual factors such as motivation and perception of one’s ability. Interest is very important in one’s educational and life success. This is because ones action towards anything depends largely on one’s interest on that thing. Interest drives one towards action especially when such action benefits one thereby forming a relationship between a person and an object. Adedeji (2007) found that interest of students’ in mathematics affect their academic achievement in schools.
For the purpose of this study, interest could be defined a temporary response relative to the effectiveness of method used by CRS teachers in the classroom. This is because, it affects the way students react or listen to the teacher. This could be as a result of the fact that students may come to the classroom with certain interest. It then becomes rewarding if a teacher (s) of CRS discover these interests and build on them especially the use of good methods of teaching that appeal to all senses in learning.
Role-play method in the classroom can generally foster the interaction between the learner and other learner and between the learner and the content of instruction. The essence of this much needed meaningful interaction in the classroom therefore creates gap between what is taught in the classroom and the experiences and activities the learners meet outside the classroom.
It is critical that CRS teaching not only seek to bridge this gap in order to make learning realistic, but of course also to harness the power of this role play for instructional gain. It is for these reasons that a research on the effect of role play method on students’ achievement and interest in CRS in secondary schools is not only imperative but also timely.
Challenges Facing the Teaching and Teachers of Christian Religious Studies in Senior Secondary Schools
1.2 Statement of the Problems
It is impossible to overstate the significance of CRS in the current social, political, and religious crises in Nigeria. Nonetheless, it appears that kids’ poor academic performance has been on the rise over time. It might be brought on by teachers using the lecture method of instruction, which has traditionally been the main way lessons are presented in secondary schools in Nigeria.
Due to their potential lack of interest, the students can end up performing poorly in CRS classes. There doesn’t seem to be any actual research on how the role-playing method affects students’ academic performance and interest in CRS in senior secondary schools. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the numerous difficulties that teachers and students of Christian religious studies in senior secondary schools face.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the appraisal of various challenges facing the teaching and teachers of Christian Religious Studies in senior secondary schools. The specific objectives included;
- To determine the problems facing teachers in teaching Christian religious studies in secondary schools.
- To determine the challenges to effective implementation of Christian religious studies curriculum in secondary schools.
- To determine how the challenges be curbed to ensure effective implementation of the curriculum among secondary school students.
- To make useful recommendations based on the findings of this study.
Challenges Facing the Teaching and Teachers of Christian Religious Studies in Senior Secondary Schools
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Are there any problems facing teachers in teaching Christian religious studies in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area?
- Are there any challenges to effective implementation of Christian religious studies curriculum in secondary schools?
- How could the challenges be curbed to ensure effective implementation of the curriculum among secondary school students?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There are no problems facing teachers in teaching Christian religious studies in Nigeria secondary schools.
H1: There are problems facing teachers in teaching Christian religious studies in Nigeria secondary schools.
H0: There are no challenges to effective implementation of Christian religious studies curriculum in secondary schools.
H1: There are challenges to effective implementation of Christian religious studies curriculum in secondary schools.
Lawson Peter – Chief Editor in Projectvilla Nigeria. A writer and academic researcher.