Background to the Study The importance of education has always been emphasized over the ages. For example, Cohn (1979) states that education is the single most important determinant of a person’s economic and social success. Cohn quotes some world-famous philosophers to support this assertion. According to Cohn, Plato had declared that, “the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life”. Also Plato had affirmed that, “education is the best provision for old age” and that, “educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living is to the dead” (p. 27). It is in realization of the importance of education that the Federal Government of Nigeria in the National Policy on Education (4th. ed.). (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004), describes it as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. Ejiogu (1999) equally asserts that: Not only is education the greatest force that can be used to bring about redress, it is also the greatest investment that the nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources. It is the most important instrument of change, as any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society can be preceded by educational revolution (p. 199). Secondary education is a crucial level in the education system because secondary schools are the recipients of products of primary schools and the source of candidates for tertiary education. Public schools are run with tax payers’ money while private schools generate their own revenues. Public schools are usually accessible to the children of the general public because they are run by the government, whether federal, state or local. Even people whose children do not attend these schools still help, through their taxes, to ensure that the people in the society are educated. However, in the United States of America (USA), some public schools, including those run by School Districts, which rely on non-public funding such as high fees or private donations, are still considered public by virtue of public ownership and control (Public Schools, 2006). Private schools are those run by individuals, groups, corporate bodies and missionary societies. They retain the right to select their students and are run in whole or in part with the fees they charge the students. In the United Kingdom, some private secondary schools are called public schools. However, the term “public schools” is used for older and more prestigious schools like Cheltenham, Eton, and Harrow (Private Schools, 2006). In many countries of the world, including Nigeria, formal education was initiated by private proprietors. For example, schools were privately run in Southern Nigeria between 1842 and 1882 by missionaries. The British colonial government started to show interest in the education of the people in 1882 (Fafunwa, 1991). In Nigeria, private schools include Church, Muslim, individual and organisation – owned schools, University Staff Schools or International Schools and Military (Army, Navy and Air Force) secondary schools are also private schools. However, in military schools token fees are paid, the infrastructure is owned by the government which also recruits, disciplines, promotes teachers and pays their salaries and pensions. In spite of this, they are categorized by the Kwara State Ministry of Education as private schools (Kwara State Ministry of 3 Education, 2009). UNESCO (as cited in Oladipo, 2005) defines private schools as schools that are not operated by a public authority, whether or not they receive financial support from such authority. Therefore, management is the criterion that determines whether a school is private or public. The Kwara State Ministry of Education’s categorization is in conformity with this. Public schools, on the other hand, consist of Federal Government Unity Schools called Federal Government secondary schools, model secondary schools and conventional state secondary schools. Community secondary schools are categorized as public schools in Kwara State because they are usually established and eventually transferred to government for funding and management. The categorizations of schools into public and private sectors have led to comparisons between them. Buckingham (2000) affirms that: The division of schools in Australia into public and private sectors inevitably leads to comparisons. The growth in the private sector in recent years has renewed the debate over the relative merits of public versus private education. Some public schools consistently excel in academic achievement but sadly they are the exception. Students who attend private schools are more likely to complete Year 12, get better results, have higher rates of university entry, and lower rates of unemployment. Not surprising, more and more parents are “opting out” of the public system, often by making financial sacrifices (p. 2). Efficiency is the degree to which a social system achieves its objectives with a minimum effort, time and waste. Efficiency also refers to the relationship between the input into a system (be it agricultural, industrial or educational) and the outputs of that system (be they wheat, vehicles or educated individuals). These input and output have to be aggregated and usually prices are used to perform this valuation exercise (UNESCO, 2003). Educational efficiency can be categorized into external efficiency and internal efficiency. External efficiency focuses on the extent to which the educational system obtains better results when compared with other forms of social investments. The aim here is to justify society’s resources that are utilized in the educational production process (Oguntoye and Alani, 1998). According to Bacchus (as cited in DFID Department of Education 1993), the process of providing children with education most likely to help them improve their quality of life when they become adults is referred to as “external efficiency” or “effectiveness of schools”. External efficiency can also be viewed in terms of the degree to which the education system meets the broad social, cultural and economic objectives of the wider system of which it is a part (Nwankwo and Patwari, 1981).
Statement of the Problem
A radically improved education is a pre-requisite for achieving sustained economic growth at a level sufficiently high enough to reduce poverty, and to help build a democratic and 14 equitable society. No society can achieve these objectives without a high level of adult literacy and a sufficient coverage of basic education. Low quality of education is the single most significant constraint to achieving both Education for All (EFA) goals and helping countries to successfully benefit from technological revolution (UNESCO, 2006). The Kwara State education system is confronted with many constraints which have resulted in poor quality education. Ijaiya (2004) stated that the dwindling quality of education in Kwara State was depicted by poor pupils’ achievement in basic skills and public examinations. The researcher expatiated that the performance of primary and secondary school students in National Common Entrance Examination and University Matriculation Examinations (UME) respectively in most subjects, especially the Sciences, English and Mathematics was woeful. Many who passed could possibly have been aided through examination malpractice, which is why many students migrate to rural schools for opportunities to cheat. Some principals, headmasters, and teachers assist students to cheat. Students’ dread of English Language and Mathematics at virtually all levels of the education system is traceable to very weak primary schools which create problems for the upper levels.
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