CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the study The trend in the academic achievement of secondary school students in Nigeria in the last two decades has become a major source of concern to all stakeholders in the education sector. This is so because of the great importance that education has on the national development of the country. There is a consensus of opinion about the fallen standard of education in Nigeria (Adebule, 2004). Parents and government are in agreement that their huge investment on education is not yielding the desired dividend (Adegbite, 2005). Teachers also complain of students‘ low achievement at both internal and external examinations. The annual releases of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination results (SSCE) conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) depicts the problematic nature and generalization of poor secondary school students‘ achievement in different school subjects especially mathematics and English language among secondary school students (Adesemowo, 2005). Confirming the above, Dawa, Adamu and Olayomi (2005) believe that there is mass decline in the achievement of students in both National Examination Council (NECO) and the West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Education at secondary school level is supposed to be the bedrock and the foundation towards higher knowledge in tertiary institutions. It is an investment as well as an instrument that can be used to achieve a more rapid economic, social, political, technological, scientific and cultural development in the country. The National Policy on Education (2004) stipulated that secondary education is an Instrument for national development. It fosters the development of the individuals for further education, and general development of the society. The role of secondary education is to lay the foundation for further education and if a good foundation is laid at this level, there is likely to be no problem at subsequent levels. Poor academic achievement is an achievement that is adjudged by the examiner as falling below an expected standard. Academic failure is not only frustrating to the 31 students and the parents, its effects are equally grave on the society in terms of dearth of manpower in all spheres of the economy and polity (Aremu, 2000). Morakinyo (2003) agrees that the falling level of academic achievement is attributable to teacher‘s non-use of verbal reinforcement strategy. Adegbite (2005) found out that the attitude of some teachers to their job is reflected in their poor attendance to lessons, lateness to school, unsavory comments about student‘s performance that could damage their ego, poor method of teaching and the likes. Edun and Akanji (2008) asserted that poor academic achievement among our students is usually attributed to the school authority and teachers‘ attitude to their work. Omolewa (1981) postulated that some of the factors responsible for poor academic achievement among secondary school students are connected with problems associated with educational development of the country such as expansion of schools without proper physical and academic planning, inadequate provision of necessary equipment in schools, dearth of qualified teachers, the growing tendency to use teaching profession as a springboard to a more lucrative job and fall in the prestige of teachers. Very few people care to think of the ‗student emotional factors‘ which cannot be divorced from the complexity of factors that determine the totality of a student‘s success in life. One such element of these complex factors is the student‘s level of emotional intelligence.
Statement of the problem
The decline in the academic achievement of secondary school students in Nigeria has been a major source of concern to stakeholders and policy makers in the education sector. Measures taken by the government at various levels to eliminate this problem may have focused more on improving infrastructure, equipping the schools and providing qualified teachers in the bid to improve the academic 38 achievement of students with little or no attention being paid to their Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills. These may not have produced the desired results. The demands of today‘s world and the challenges of coping with their academic work under serious emotional strain, coupled with uncooperative attitude of some parents who are most often engrossed with the provision of the family needs, may trigger negative emotions in students such that, when not handled effectively, may result in low academic achievement. Again, the importance of students‘ emotional standard of performance may have been seen to be missing, misunderstood or neglected. The curricula at the secondary school level are not designed to address this inherent gap. Poor academic achievement among secondary school students limits their potentials for advancement in career and their ability to compete effectively in an ever increasingly competitive global village. It is therefore necessary to interrupt the ugly trend of poor academic achievement among secondary students by developing and enhancing their emotional intelligence skills which have been observed to be major determinants of academic achievement because a student may recover from physical pain or injury, but may never recover from the terror and degradation of his or her emotional state.
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