AVAILABILITY OF LABORATORY FACILITIES FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BASIC SCIENCE
Background to the Study
We live in a world of science and technology, throughout our lives, human beings encounter issues and problems that have their root in science. Science and technology have become critical factor of economic and social development. Through science resource of nature have been well utilized and transformed into meaningful resources for a better living in the world. The tremendous emerging trends in science education has assured man of a comfortable living within the society (FGN, 2004, p. 5).
Fundamental research among science educators and cognitive scientists focuses on how people learn science and how they apply this knowledge in their daily lives. Science education provides students with knowledge, training, and learning experience while stimulating their physical and mental growth. According to the National Science Board Commission on Pre-college Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology, in its report stressed that, most states are failing to provide its students with adequate tools, resources or facilities needed to excel in the 21st Century. It is necessary to provide students with a strong broad background in the area of science and mathematics education when laboratory facilities are adequate in schools, students should be offered opportunities to enable them grow in their problem solving abilities, think critically and acquire scientific and technological literacy, William and Maureen (2012).
Academic achievement of students in science subjects generally had witnessed a deplorable trend in the past decades. Science education at all levels of education in Nigeria is in a deplorable state from the primary, secondary to the tertiary institutions. There is a dearth in science facilities in the laboratories and this contributes to students’ poor academic performance in science (Basic Science ) at the secondary school level (Ihuarlam, 2008; Ifeakor, 2006; Udo, 2006; Okafor, 2000). Today this scenario is applicable to secondary schools in Calabar, Cross River State. However, despite the numerous secondary schools in Calabar the level of students’ academic performance is alarming especially those overing science courses such as physics, biology and Basic Science . It is on this note this research wish to evaluate the adequacy of laboratory facilities on academic performance of students in secondary schools in Calabar with specific reference to assessing the extent at which laboratory facilities in the secondary schoolsare adequate for the teaching of Basic Science and to what extent does the adequacy of laboratory facilities in secondary schools affect students’ academic performance
According to Adeboyeje (2000) and Emetarom (2004), school facilities are the physical and spatial enablers of teaching and learning which will increase the production of results. School facilities serve as pillars of support for effective teaching and learning. Oyesola (2000) sees school facilities to include permanent and semi-permanent structures such as machinery, laboratory equipment, the blackboard, teacher’s tools and other equipment as well as consumables.
Good quality and standard of school depend largely on the provision, adequacy, unitization and management of educational facilities. Akinsolu (2004) asserted that educational curriculum cannot be sound and well operated with poor and badly managed school facilities. From all indication, school facilities are physical resources that facilitate effective teaching and learning. They include blocks of classrooms, laboratories, workshops, libraries, equipment, consumables, electricity, water, visual and audio-visual aids, tables, desks, chairs, play ground, storage space and toilets.
In Nigeria, public school enrolment has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in facilities for effective teaching and learning. As a result of underfunding of education in Nigeria, the government has been encouraging proper maintenance of available school facilities. School facility maintenance entails ensuring that the facilities are kept near their original state as possible. This involves keeping the school sports and football field clean, periodic renovation of the buildings, servicing the school bus and generator sets, repairs etc. for the purpose of restoring the facilities to optimum working condition.
Statement of the Problem.
The persistent poor performance of secondary school students in basic science in junior schoolsis causing serious concern in education circles. This is because of the vital role of basic science for scientific and technological advancement of this country. The West African Senior School Certificate Examination results for 2010 to 2013 shows a persistent underachievement of student in basic science.
According to WAEC chief examiners report (2013)students under achievement in basic science can be attributed to their lack of familiarity with common laboratory equipment or apparatuses and poor knowledge in the fundamental principles and procedures for practical. This implies that junior secondary school students are not sufficiently exposed to basic science laboratory equipment through practical or laboratory exercises prior to junior school certificate examinations. Hence, students are unfamiliar with laboratory equipment and are unable to use them during practical work. Consequently, they performed poorly in basic science in junior school certificate examinations. This study therefore, investigated the availability of laboratory facilities for teaching and learning of basic science in Ikere Local Government Area.
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