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INFLUENCE OF FREE EDUCATION STATUS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL AND TUITION-LADEN PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN BASIC SCIENCE IN UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT, AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
In recent times in Nigeria and more importantly in Akwa Ibom State, public schools have suffered a steadily decline in service delivery while private schools have apparently been providing the needed alternative to parents searching for qualitative education for their treasured children. Even teachers in public schools do not believe in their services as they do not enroll their wards in the school they are teaching (Public school). This situation becomes more worrisome as these private schools are tuition-laden and are operated in both semi urban and urban areas (Etim, 2009).
The emphasis on education as the life wire of the growth and sustainable development of any economy can never be over-emphasized. So, the decision of the administration of Governor Akpabio to flag off an agenda of free and compulsory education at the cradle of his administration must be applauded.
Obvious, the precedence set by Chief Obafemi Awolowo may have inspired Governor Godswill Akpabio in his vision to empower the youths of Akwa Ibom State towards the repositioning the social welfare policy which serviced as the harbinger of the uncommon transformation in Akwa Ibom State.
Sequel to this timely development, the state government in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Ministry of Education forged alliance with the private sectors to record a mile stone in the eradication of child labour. This eradicated resulted in the increase of pupils and students in the classrooms.
A more striking phenomenon about this people oriented policy is foreseeable in the indiscriminately nature of its implementation. In other words, the policy was open even to non-indigenes living in Akwa Ibom State.
Akwa Ibom State is becoming a cosmopolitan city and the fate of our children in these areas have been of very serious concern to the government. Therefore, the aim of free and compulsory qualitative education for all citizens is still a mirage due to some of major challenges of the scheme which includes inadequate teachers and facilities. This is owing to the fact that some parents, especially in the rural areas deliberately refuse to send their children to the public schools despite the fact that they are to pay nothing. Another challenge has been the poor supervision of the instructors in the public schools. So the idea was to train and retrain teachers to meet up the challenges of millennium educational objectives.
Many teachers with university degrees and other qualifications were recruited massively into the service. Government had to make provision for information, textbooks and other writing materials in pursuit of the success of the scheme. Since poor infrastructural development is the bane of economic growth, the government of Akwa Ibom State embarked on a renovation and construction of new classrooms and office blocks across the rural and urban areas.
In any case, the government looked into the crystal ball and behold; a state with functional and qualitative education which would serve as catalyst for development, job creation, poverty alleviation and as a foundation for envisaged science and technology and industrial revolution. So, to achieve the desired functionality and quality in our educational system, this sector which is the main determinant of our collective future must be totally reorganized, The strategy for this aspect will be the production of quality teachers, expansion of the education infrastructure and increased funding. (Ekpo, 2001).
The government is aware that tuition laden schools do not only provide alternative learning opportunity to children of the privileged class but also that they take part in most competitions and winning laurels organized by government and non-governmental organizations. Notwithstanding, majority of the children are still in public schools. The commitment of government in the provision of free and compulsory education for all children was enhanced through the provision of a conducive atmosphere for effective and quality learning, inspectorate improvement and infrastructural development. Measures such as free exercise books, renovation of class room blocks, recently adopted have served as a great relief to parents and motivator to students (Asuquo, 2010). Several actions taken recently in both primary and secondary schools include standardization of the inspectorate directorate with sufficient equipment to work with; the reform of the primary school curricular with a view to teaching literacy numerals skills, provision of key text books, standard school libraries and complete refurbishing of dilapidated school buildings which were abandoned and unused in the time past (Anwana, 2009).
However, the influence of free education on the academic performance of students in science subjects, is therefore a synopsis of the key components of education reform and its positive effect on the academic performance of students in secondary schools (Akpan, 2010). There are many benefits of this programme to justify the huge costs. Free and compulsory schooling ensures the knowledge of science and this facilitates citizenship and success in modern life; it also encourages the students to be educationally oriented and discourages them from getting involved in child labour and idleness.
Since free and compulsory education was introduced during the regime of Governor Akpabio. Many educationists and stakeholders in education have criticized this, both positively and negatively