THE INFLUENCE OF LEARNING DISABILITIES ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN NORTHERN EDUCATION ZONE OF CROSS RIVER STATE, NIGERIA
- Background to the study
Schools are established to equip the youths with essential skills needed for functionality as useful and knowledgeable citizens of the country. However, examination of school records shows that students’ academic performances have remained for long very unimpressive. Obviously, this is not healthy for the growth of the country.
In a study, Polom (2011) analyzed West African Examination Council (WAEC), examination in Mathematics and English Language administered in 2010, and discovered that only 27.40% of the students made at least a pass and above in the two core subjects. He equally reported that the number of those who had credit and above in a foreign Language like French Language declined from 21.34% to 17.22% (WAEC Office Data base, Calabar, February, 2012).
Poor student’s performance in WAEC Examination has for some time now been a matter of great concern to education stakeholders. Concrete evidence of students’ poor performance in examinations could be seen in the results obtained each year in externally administered examinations like the WAEC examinations. As presented in Table 1, for example, students’ results in English Language and Mathematics provide a disturbing trend. In Mathematics only about 25% of those who attempted the examination in 2006 had credit passes and above. About 41% and 31% had passes and failing grades respectively.
Trends of students’ performance in Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations in Mathematics and English Language from 2006-2010 in Cross River State
Subject Year No of Candidate Pass at Credit Ordinary Pass Fail
Who sat for (Al-C6) (D7-E8) (F9)
Mathematics 2006 1,149,277 472,582 357,31 286,744
(24.95%) (41.12%) (31.09%)
2007 1,249,028 583,920 333,740 302,764
(46.75%) (26.72%) (24.24%)
2008 1,268,213 726,398 302,266 218,618
(57.28%) (23.83%) (17.24%)
2009 1,348,528 634,382 344,635 315,738
(47.45%) (25.56%) (23.41%)
2010 1,306,535 548,065 363,920 355,382
(41.95%) (27.85%) (27.20%)
WAEC Office Data base, Calabar, February, 2012.
The situation improved in 2007 when about 47% of the candidates had credit passes or above in 2008, 57.28% of the candidates also had credit passes but the situation reversed itself in 2009 and 2010 when only about 47% and about 41.95% of the candidates respectively had credit passes”. Similarly for English Language those who had credits passes declined from about 32.48% in 2006 to 30.32% in 2008.The results improved to 35.02% in 2008, then 41.55% in 2009 but moved down to 35.13% in 2010. These unsteady but declining trends are disturbing.
Apart from the concerns of parents, teachers and the state government, the incessant failure of students in WAEC and NECO senior school certificate Examination (SSCE) has always been a source of worry for the Government of this country. In December 2012, Federal Ministry of Education organized a two-day summit in Abuja to discuss the issue. In the summit, the then minister of education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai, expressed the Federal Government displeasure at the students’ poor performances. She noted with regret that less than 30 percent of over a million students, who sat for the examination within the last six years, obtained credits in five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.
The effect of this is that more than 70 per cent of school leavers are always armed with school certificate result that do not qualify them for higher education. Besides, the high proportions of school leavers are always unable to gain employment as a result of poor academic performance. The result of persistent poor learners’ performance in schools is always a serious disruption in the overall manpower supply for the economy. Students who have poor academic record would find it difficult to cope in a competitive society. Individuals who fail in school may not be adequately and mentally equipped to face life squarely.
In presenting a report at WASCE monthly seminar, the Head of Research Division revealed that the percentage of failure rate for English Language and Mathematics in the past five years surpasses that of the percentage of credit level passes. In all these, the accusing fingers from different quarters have pointed at teachers. That is why in looking for solution, efforts had been directed at helping teachers to improve upon the services they render in schools. Teachers have in synergy with Parents Teachers Association (PTA) taken appropriate steps towards improving academic performance of students in several ways. For example, they have been mounting extramural classes to give students more time to learn than what official school time allows. This apart, principals keep time book for teachers and attendance register for students.
On its part, the Cross River State government has embarked on several capacity building critical to successful teaching and learning improvement in the following broad areas: policy, training and pedagogy, infrastructure development, teacher welfare and empowerment. Essential facilities and equipment that have implications for school learning like ICTs, laboratories and collateral equipment cum libraries are now available in most schools. A lot have also been spent on training and retraining of teachers to arrest the ugly trend.
Despite huge government investment in education and steps taken to improve performance of students’ in school, students’ academic performance is yet to produce acceptable result. The researcher became interested in this problem as a result of concern from education stakeholders and researchers continuous search for solution to poor academic performances.
According to Isangedighi (2011), the amount and quality of learning the individual is capable of, his involvement in learning activities; and the overall balance achieved in his development as a person depends to a large extent on his personal status as a composite unit. He also noted that, some of the difficulties some learners encounter that serve to undermine their abilities to achieve as much as others, are classified as learning disabilities. To that extent the researcher is of the view that learning disabilities could be responsible for poor academic achievement of secondary school students.