CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
The form of education that children receive after primary education and before tertiary education is the secondary education. Without sound secondary school products, it is obvious that the basis for any future academic studies or programmes cannot be laid. Admittedly no educational system is problem free. The level of decay in Nigerian educational system is becoming embarrassing that Ogunsaju (2009) described it as calamitous.
However, the teaching/learning process in school is objective driven. Once objectives are set, the means by which the realization of such objectives are measured should equally be it is established. One of the most potent barometers so far, if not the strongest of measuring academic performance of students through public examinations such as senior school certificate examinations (WASSCE/NECO). These examinations are externally moderated and enjoy a lot of public confidence.
It is rather unfortunate that the performance of our secondary school leavers in these examination does not measure up to the standards expected of them. Though brilliant students can be found even in public schools, the high percentages of failures in WASSCE/NECO tends to rubbish the good ones among them. Initially, Mathematics and English Language were recording poor results, but later this extended to other subjects including the sciences and arts. Results in the core-subjects were very poor with students doing much worse in subjects with practical work. In WASSCE of December 1996, for example, failure rates were 64.6% for English and Biology 58%.
Nevertheless, the subject of concern to the researcher is Biology. Biology is one of the science subjects studied at the senior secondary school level. Biology can be defined as the study of life or the study of plants and animals (Michael, 2008).
Among the science subjects, Biology is considered the most popular among secondary schools students considering the high enrolment of students in this subject at external examination. Despite the relative popularity of Biology compared to other science subject, it is very disappointing to note that students’ performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations have remained consistently poor over the years (WAEC Annual Report, 1998-2009). (Analysis of Students Academic Performance in Biology in WASSCE/NECO Examinations)
The continuous decline in students’ academic performance in Biology in senior school certificate examination by secondary school students is causing some concern among Biology teachers, school administrators, parents and the general public. Biology educators have put up noble and spirited efforts aimed at identifying the major problems associated with the teaching and learning of Biology in the nation’s schools yet, no significant improvement has been recorded. Many have attributed the incidence students’ failure in the subject to ineffective methods of teaching which has resulted in rote learning.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been observed with dismay that students’ academic performance in schools especially in external examinations such as WASSCE and NECO has fallen to a decline in Nigeria. The poor academic performance of students in schools has become an intractable problem in the nation’s educational system.
Observations and reports from examination bodies revealed that a high percentage of secondary school students continue to perform poorly in many school subjects including Biology. This development has generated concerns among parents, teachers, educational planners, policy makers, researchers, individuals and the government at large.
Both the private and public sectors have been making some attempts to solve this problem, but not much has been achieved as students’ performance in most school subjects remain nothing to write home about. This is becoming increasingly worrisome especially when one considers the huge financial investment in the educational sector by the government.
It is against the backdrop of the continuous decline in students’ academic performance that this study “Analysis of Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in WASSCE/NECO Examinations between 2013-2015 in Ikono Local Government Area” becomes imperative.