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EFFECTS OF AVAILABILITY AND USE OF LABORATORIES ON STUDENTS PERFORMANCE IN SCIENCE SUBJECTS IN COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN KINONDONI MUNICIPALITY
1.0 BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.1 Background to the Problem
This study dealt with an assessment of the effect of availability and use of laboratory on student performance in science subjects inCommunitySecondary school(CSS) inTanzania. The science subjects involved in the study are Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The chapter comprises of the background, statement of the problem, purpose and objective of the study, research tasks and questions, significance of the study, delimitation of the study and conceptual framework.
A good system of education in any country must be effective on two fronts: First, the quantitative level is used to ensure access to education and quality in distribution and allocation of resources to various segments of the society, and second, on the qualitative level to ensure that the country produces the skills needed for rapid social and economic development (United Republic of Tanzania, 1995).The development of Universal Primary Education(UPE) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has drawn widespread international support because of its perceived role in poverty reduction (United Nations 2008).
The expansion of secondary school education in developing countries is now seen as a major priority due to its importance in linking primary education to tertiary education and further professional development as well as its role in responding to the demands of globalization and its potential to build skills for transforming livelihoods (World Bank, 2005; Association of Development of Education inAfrica, (ADEA), 2007 &African Human Development Department, (AHDD), 2007).
The challenges of education development in SSA at the beginning of the twenty first century are unprecedented. Faced with persistent gaps in coverage of primary schooling, almost all countries have launched major efforts to ensure that all children will have the opportunity to complete a primary education of acceptable quality (Mosha, 2012). At the same time, governments are committed to expand access to further learning. The Education Sector Development Programme (EDSP-2001) implementation of free primary education to achieve Education for All (EFA, 2000) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has exerted pressure on government to expand chances for secondary education. The achievement of UPE has translated into greater demands on human resources for the education sector. This has resulted in increased demand for teachers, and graduate teachers in particular.
In response, the government ofTanzanialaunched the Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP) in 2004 attempting to expand secondary education (URT, 2004). The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) provided guidelines for establishing new secondary schools whether privately or community owned. The educational inspectors used these criteria for assessing whether the new schools could be registered or not. One of the required facilities are two laboratories with furniture in each all school.
The government of Tanzania aimed at having at least one secondary school in each ward, and the number of community owned secondary schools increased remarkably from 1202 in 2004 to3216 in2010 (URT,2010). On the one hand, this increased number of secondary schools in the country is a great achievement. But on the other hand, it is a challenge for the government on how the increased number of schools and students maintains the quality of education. Despite the guidelines, most of these schools neither have proper laboratories nor laboratory equipment for conducting practical lessons for science subjects (Kibga, 2004, 2013). The main focus in this study was to examine the effects of availability and use of laboratories on student performance in science subjects at the ordinary level secondary education.
Expanding access, equity and improving quality and relevance at the same time are twin challenges faced by the secondary school education system throughout the developing countries (World Bank, 2005, Chimombo, 2005, Babaci& Geo-JaJa, 2011). After the implementation of SEDP, the increase of community secondary schools and the expansion of enrolment of students could not match with the demand for science teachers. Science teachers leading the demand in the year 2008 there were shortage of science subjects, shortage teachers in Biology subject was 3672 teachers which is equivalent to 71%, in Chemistry subject was 3705 teachers which was equivalent to 72% and in Physics was 5212 teachers which is equivalent to 75% (Omari, 2013). This situation does not give hope in the near future that secondary schools will have enough science teachers and student will be able to learn science as indicated in the syllabus. This implies that unless the government and other stakeholders find alternative ways of training more science teachers for secondary education, these few available teachers will not meet the demand of secondary education even with the current teaching and learning resources.
Various studies have been conducted on the problem relating to science education delivery in Tanzanian secondary schools, in which availability and use of laboratories is highlighted (Chonjo, Osaki, Posi & Mrutu, 1996; Mafumiko, 1998; Chonjo & Welford 2001; Richard 2005, Kibga, 2004). These studies established that among the problems associated with science education delivery are lack of resources such as laboratories, equipment, apparatus, inadequate teachers and inadequacy of technical support in laboratory based teaching. This may cause schools not to properly play the role of delivering science education. Science teaching requires special approach in laboratories instruction skills, management skills and laboratory procedures such as handling of chemicals and repair of equipment. Furthermore, Kibga (2004) found that practical classes had no preliminary preparation done, so students wasted a lot of time to collect apparatus from laboratory store before setting experiments.
Since the examination of science subjects currently consists of two papers namely Paper 1 (theory oriented) and Paper 2 (practical), how these practical examinations can be done during exams as well as the teaching and learning process if laboratories are absent remains a question with no clear answer. There is a direct relationship between the availability and use of laboratories in schools on the one hand and the performance in science subjects examinations on the other. The performance in science subjects in ward secondary schools inTanzaniais dismal compared to those schools that have been around for a long time.
In this study the main focus is to investigate whether the availability or in-availability of laboratories in CSS has any link with the academic performance. Shortage of laboratories equipment in secondary schools inTanzaniahas been increasingly recognized as an important barrier in improving the quality of science education (Ndabise, 2008).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The government ofTanzaniatook the initiative to establish community secondary schools in every ward through the Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDP) since 2004. This initiative resulted in an expansion of education places that had not been observed before in secondary education. However, in spite of the massive expansion of secondary education, it is not clear whether this quantitative expansion was associated with the provision of adequate facilities, including laboratories. Although there are some criteria established for schools to be registered, such as availability of library, classrooms and two laboratories with furniture, among others, the availability and use of laboratory facilities in CSS does not seem to have been in accordance to laid down guidelines.
This follows the experienced reality where students’ performance in science subjects is appalling in CSS. The performance of students in science subjects for the year 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for CSS has tended to be lower compared to performance in the same subjects in other schools. Such a scenario causes the need for a study to establish if performance of students in science subjects has any relationship with availability and use of laboratories. The government knows the importance of science in supporting sustainable development, that is why it insists on science and technology in its Education and Training Policy (ETP) (URT, 1995). Quality science education requires students to perform experiments with their own hands. The learning and practice of science cannot be achieved in the environment which does not give emphasis on practical and hands on activities in schools. Students are supposed to do both theory and practical learning activities. Nevertheless, since science is an activity based subject, its effective teaching and learning cannot be feasible unless it is enriched with practical activities. Practical activities must occupy greater part of the time allocated to science subjects than the chalk and talk method of teaching the theoretical aspects. This study therefore intended to assess the availability and use of laboratory in Tanzania CSS