Background of the study

Education system in Nigeria has been in crisis for many years largely due to the fact that the sector is poorly funded. This has led to shortage supply of learning materials and human resources being experienced in the system. Inadequate qualified teachers, high turnover rate of teachers, shortage of classroom, and poor remuneration of teachers and a host of other problems abound in the education sector. The economic crisis experienced in Nigeria impacted on the education system and had played a major role in the decline of the quality of Education offered in the country (Olabiyi and Abayomi 2010). Meanwhile, the future of every nation depends largely on the fate of every child that is born into her; most especially those that are privileged to go through the academic walls of the nation starting from the primary level of education to the tertiary institution.Education is an important industry for social, political and economic development and is being affected by the environment within which it exists (Adediran, Ojomo&Adeyanju, 2015).Hence, national development has been founded by those who are experts in their areas of specialization, and this would not have been imaginable without the instrumentality of the educational system. Every countryendeavours to provide quality education for its people

Globally children are pressurized to learn more in schools and improve their abilities to read write and apply solution of problems in order to pass a successful and comfortable life. Attempts to improve academic performance in school include high expectations, task on time, safe climate and challenging curriculum. Schools are often blamed for student’s poor academic performance despite the fact that teachers and principal work hard to provide strong curricula, high expectations and safe climate (Atinkson, 2016) . Academic performance is affected by many factors which included prenatal, natal and postnatal issues of the mother apart from nutritional, socio-economic and environmental factors.

The Dakar Framework for Action (2000) commits nations to the provision of primary education of good quality and improving all aspects of educational quality (UNICEF, 2007: 32). Since independence in 1963, the Government of the Republic of Kenya has placed considerable importance on education. Her overall policy goal is to achieve Education For All (EFA) in order to give every Kenyan the right to education and training irrespective of his or her socio- economic status (Ministry of Education, 2005b:14). Through the provision of education, the Government aims at enabling the youth to play a more effective role in the life of the nation by imparting to them the necessary skills and knowledge and inculcating the right attitude. In practice however, formal education has tended to concentrate on imparting knowledge for the sake of passing examinations (Republic of Kenya, 1982).

Although the rate of school failure is known the true causes and characteristics remain hidden and unknown as no earlier studies were conducted in this setting. Pediatrician’s also plays a significant role to be a child’s advocate and help children to go through school smoothly and safely. (Gabriel, 2014) Therefore it becomes necessary to determine the factors contributing to school failure in order to design future interventions that tackle this problem at an individual basis and prevent pupils  from failing at school at an earlier stage

Cognitive aspects of learning refer to thinking processes and mental procedures involved in the learning process. Cognitive factors that influence learning range from basic learning processes, such as memorizing facts or information, to higher-level processes, such as understanding, application, analysis and evaluation. (Masona, 2015).An important cognitive aspect of learning, that can hinder or facilitate learning, is prior knowledge and prior learning experience of pupils .

Cognition is “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses”.[1] It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as attention, the formation, judgment and evaluationreasoning and “computation“, problem solving and decision makingcomprehension and production of language. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

Cognitive processes are analyzed from different perspectives within differentcontextslinguisticsanesthesianeurosciencepsychiatrypsychologyeducation philosophy, anthropologybiologysystemiclogic, and computer science.These and other different approaches to the analysis of cognition are synthesised in the developing field of cognitive science, a progressively autonomous academic discipline.

According to Eshiwani (1993: 185), one of the major functions of any examination system is to measure the output of the educational system in which it operates often referred to as pupils‟ achievement which reflects the system internal efficiency. He outlined three primary objectives of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination which included ranking candidates according to the attainment of knowledge, skills and attitudes as specified in the syllabus; improving the learning process in primary schools by providing the schools with constant feedback on candidates performance; and selecting pupils to secondary schools and to post primary technical training institutions using the academic performance as a base. According to this view, they measure the mastery of curriculum. Sifuna and Nawamura (2007, cited in Ogawa, 2010) claim that high score in national examinations are the best indicators of a high quality education. Similarly, Abagi, 4 Olweya and Otieno (2000:13) pointed out that in Kenya, examinations are used as measures of achievement of the education system‟s objectives and in assessing the quality of the education offered. They contend that schools that perform well in national examinations are viewed as offering high quality education as opposed to those that perform poorly.

Statement of the Problem

Cognitive placement examinations play a significant role in education systems. In the 6-3-3-4 system of education, Primary school certificate examination is taken at the end of the eighth year of primary education. Learners who perform well are perceived to have received high quality education essential for sustainable socioeconomic development and poverty eradication as opposed to those who perform poorly (Abagi et al, 2000:13). The performance in the Cognitive placement examination is used as a criterion for certification and as a base for selecting pupils to join secondary schools and post-primary technical institution (Eshiwani, 1993:184). Despite the Government commitment to provide high quality primary education, outstanding pupils‟ academic achievement remains a challenge in the public primary schools. The available statistics indicate that the division has not only consistently performed dismally in the national examination but also experienced observable decline in academic performance. This poses a serious threat to the socio-economic development of the region and the country at large. There was therefore a dire need to establish the school-based, socioeconomic and socio-cultural factors influencing academic performance of the public primary schools in the region.

A perplexing concern for education stakeholders in the present dispensation in Nigeria is the quality of school leavers. As it were, there are cases of primary school leavers who have been found not able to write clearly and express themselves meaningfully and intelligibly. Of most concern to stakeholders too is the poor performance of pupils in the Common Entrance Examinations, many primary school leavers cannot gain admission to institutions of higher learning owing to poor results. They even could not fit in appropriately as they become overwhelmed by the elaborate and intense workload.

The result of this trend of poor performance is quite diverse. Beside inability to gain entry into institutions of higher learning, there is the danger to a society with young people who are ill-educated; unfit and unqualified

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Updated: 12th March 2021 — 5:26 am