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INFLUENCE OF SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN IKONO LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
Education is a systematic process through which a child or an adult acquires knowledge, experience, skill and sound attitude. It makes an individual civilized, refined, cultured and educated. For a civilized and socialized society, education is the only means, whose goal is to make an individual perfect. Every society gives importance to education because it is a panacea for all evils. It is the key to solve the various problems of life. It is the development of all those capacities in the individual, which enable him to control his environment and fulfill his possibilities (Singh, 2007). The forces of environment begin to influence growth and development of the individual right from the womb of the mother. Educational process of development occurs in physical, social, cultural and psychological environment. A proper and adequate environment is very much necessary for a fruitful learning of the child. Especially the home and the school should provide the necessary stimulus for learning experience. The child spends most of his time in school and here his environment is exerting a different influence on performance through curricula, techniques and relationship.
According to Singh (2007), if all were well with our educational institutions, all would be well with the nation. Educational institutions are intimately linked with society at large. They are the temples of knowledge. Environment plays a vital role in the development of the personality of the students. As a student spends most of his life at school, the school environment is highly responsible for the inculcating of great values in him. As students are the backbones of the nation it is important to maintain a healthy school environment. The environment has continued to appear in contemporary studies as an influence of behaviour and academic outcomes positively or negatively (Patrick, Ryan and Kaplan, 2007).
The environment in which the students learn such as classrooms, libraries and resource centres, technical workshops, information and communication technology facilities, multi-purpose halls and performing art spaces, laboratories, health, physical exercises and play grounds, conveniences, sanitation, maintenance culture among others are variables that affect students’ learning and academic performance. Hence, the school environment remains an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance students’ academic performance irrespective of the location.
According to Zais (2011), school environment means the extent to which school setting promote student safety and student health, which may include topics such as the physical plant, the academic environment, available physical and mental health supports and services, and the fairness and adequacy of disciplinary procedures, as supported by relevant research and an assessment of validity. School environmental influence before now have not been considered as one of the factors that affect academic performance in secondary schools hence it has little or no attention in educational discourse and consideration. But over the past decade remarkable studies have indicated a correlation between the school environment and academic performance of students. School environment plays major role in the life of every individual whether as students, teachers, employers or employees. A school’s environment is the thread that connects the multitude of activities in the school. In many respects this thread is almost invisible, yet everyone experiences its influence. Though some people are yet to believe that school environment brings about better performance. Riordan (2008) believed that students exhibited high levels of engagement in academic activities and homework completion based on school environment.
It is perceived by the researcher that differences exist between school environment and the student’s academic performance in secondary schools; school environmental attributes which include such things as the location of school, the state of instructions within the school, school plant, the type of school, recreational amenities within the school among others are the factors which could jointly affect student’s academic performance in schools. In the context of this study, school environment refers to the extent to which school location, school facilities and class size influence students’ academic performance in public secondary schools.
School location refers to either school located or situated in rural or urban environment. It seems that urban schools receive more attention of the government than the rural schools. This may be the reason for the difference in academic performance between students in the urban school and their rural counterpart. Another school environmental factor that can either enhance or impede learning process is class size. Class size may be referred to as the total number of students in a particular class which is controlled by a teacher. It is observed that when the number of students in a given class is very large, it becomes almost difficult for the teacher to manage thereby restricting effective teaching and learning process. Large class size could create much work load difficult for a teacher to handle.
Research consistently shows that school environmental variables have the potential to influence student’s academic performance (Yusuf and Adigun, 2010 and Oforji, 2017). According to Oyedele (2000), school facilities such as laboratories and instructional resources have been repeatedly found to have positive relationship with standard and quality of educational system.
For sometimes now, psychologist and educationist have been arguing on the environmental factors that affect academic performance of learners in subjects offered in school. Academic performance refers to the degree of a student’s accomplishment of his or her tasks and studies. The most well-known indicator of measuring academic performance is grades which reflect the student’s score” for their subjects and overall tenure. The overall impact a school environment has on pupils can be either positive or negative, depending upon the condition of the environment (Adeyemo, 2012). Overcrowded school environment and classrooms have a negative influence upon student performance, especially for pupils that may come from poor background; proper and accurate hearing is essential to students’ ability to learn in the classroom.
Educational researchers have expended time and energy trying to ensure the possible cause of students’ poor performance is reduced. The poor performance, therefore, reflects the handicap the Nigeriansare confronted with in having adequate learning environment by the schools that would help learners acquire the necessary skills and knowledge that should boost students’ academic performance. It is believed that these deficiencies contribute significantly to the growing rate of failure and subsequent drop out of students in secondary schools.