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administration of student personnel services in secondary schools in Cross River State
Background of the Study
Admission of students into secondary school places on the schools the responsibility for providing the students the necessary services that will bring about the actualization of the educational objectives, which the nation has set out to achieve. At the secondary school level, these services are in the academic and non-academic areas. The academic services constitute the curricular programmes, while the non-academic services constitute the student personnel services programme of the school. Student personnel services in this context, refers to all the nonacademic services rendered to the students at the school setting outside the formal classroom instruction, for the purpose of healthy physical, emotional, social and moral development as part of their preparation for a responsible and productive adult life. These services are complementary to the academic programme in making for a holistic and balanced education of the students. While the task of intellectual and skill development can be accomplished through curriculum planning and implementation, the task of developing responsible attitudes and morals can only be achieved through the provision and administration of student personnel services. Although student personnel services has received very little attention in professional literature and school administration, Duffy (1990), Swartz, Russel Hunt and Reilly (2006), observe that it is an administrative task area that is critical to the effective operation of any school system. This assertion is also affirmed by Ndu, Ocho and Okeke (1997) when they stress that in addition to curriculum implementation, school administrators have a duty to provide adequate student personnel services in their respective schools as the both services are complementary to each other.
Some goals of education as spelt out by the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in the National Policy on Education demand services that are beyond classroom instruction for their actualization. An example of such a goal is the inculcation of national values (p.8). The values include respect for the worth and dignity of the individual, faith in man’s ability to make rational decisions, moral and spiritual principle in interpersonal and human relations and promotion of the physical, emotional and psychological development of all children.
It is in realization of the symbiotic role of the curricular and cocurricular services in the realization of educational objectives at the secondary school level, that the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2002) in the National Minimum Standard prescribes mandatory student personnel services that school administration should make available to students in tandem with the curricular offerings. Services that come under student personnel services are many and varied. They include registration and orientation of students, enrolment management, guidance and counselling services and health care services. Others are social and recreational services, disciplinary services municipal services such as potable water, conveniences, catering services and dormitory accommodation. Also included are periodic evaluation of students’ character and learning, participation in school governance, special education services and participation in school clubs and societies. The above identification of the student personnel services are congruent with the views of Ezeocha (1990) and Mgbodile (2003) on what constitutes the services. Ezeocha went on to describe the services to be all the activities and services that are rendered to students for the achievement of the educational objectives which are not the normal classroom instruction. According to Mgbodile (1986) student personnel services refers to all the activities of the principal, teachers and other members geared towards making the pupils better citizens of the society in which they live.
Mgbodile (2003) has identified the objectives of student personnel services to include the making of students think effectively, helping them to communicate their thoughts clearly, enabling the students develop relevant skills in judgement and decision making. Others are to help them play their part as useful members of their homes and families, making the pupils understand basic facts about health and sanitation, helping students to appreciate their roles as citizens of Nigeria and the development of good moral principles as well as the appreciation of their cultural heritage and dignity of labour.
Although, the provision and administration of student personnel services are supposed to rank paripasu with the curricular services (teaching and learning), it appears that the personnel services have been relegated in school administration. Among the reasons adduced by Lindgren (1976) for the apparent relegation of student personnel services in school administration is the fact that the entire school system is examination-centred. Lindgren says that examination results are used to provide answers to some basic questions concerning the goals of education, such as progress in the investment in education and efficiency of school management. In a similar view Adeyemo (1985) states that examination result answers the question of how much the student has learnt, where he or she should be placed and how effective the teacher has been. It also answers the questions of how much of the educational goals have been achieved and how effective the school administration has been performing its role. Certificate examination results at all levels of education are used as basis for graduation of candidates, award of honours, employment in the labour market and for admission into higher levels of educational institutions. It is no wonder then that examination is seen by all concerned as a “do or die” affair.
The premium placed on the implementation of academic curriculum at all levels of education, with emphasis on academic performance as determined by examination results, explains why majority of school administrators and teachers seem to pay less attention to the provision of student personnel services in their respective schools. It should be noted that students personnel services are basic needs which must be satisfied to a reasonable extent before students can be expected to make any meaningful achievements in their academic pursuit. It is probable from the observation of Ukpabi (1997) in Abia State and Okeke (2002) in Anambra State that student personnel services in secondary schools are not adequately catered for. This phenomenon appears also to be true among secondary schools in Cross River State.
Personal observation from many public, mission and private secondary schools around appears that they lack adequate potable water, health care services, guidance and counselling services and social services. Other apparent lack includes adequate orientation programmes, effective enrolment services, discipline, evaluation, participation in school governance and adequate accommodation and recreational facilities. For the purpose of clarity, “public schools” in this context refers to schools owned and managed by state or federal government, “mission schools” refers to schools owned and managed by religious organizations, while “private schools” refers to schools owned and managed by individuals or groups outside government and religious organizations. Akpa (2005) similarly defines public schools as schools built, controlled and funded by government while private schools are those built, controlled and funded by individuals, organization or communities.
Secondary schools in Cross River State can be categorized into three; these are the public schools, the mission schools and the private school. There are a total of 231 public secondary schools in the state with 5410 teachers as at May 2007. Mission and private schools that are five years old and above and are registered with government are 35 and 61 respectively. While mission secondary schools have teaching staff strength of about 650, private secondary schools have a total of about 888 teaching staff.