A Comparative Study of the Academic Performance of Students in Public and Private Secondary Schools in English Language
This study examined students’ academic performance in English language in public and private secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this study, relevant and related literatures were reviewed by the researcher. The descriptive research survey design was used in the assessment of the opinions of the respondents collected through the questionnaire and the sampling methods of data collection. Also 200 (two hundred) respondents were randomly selected and used in this study as the sample representing the entire population of the study. A total of three (3) null hypotheses were formulated and tested with the use of the independent t-test for hypotheses one and three and Pearson product moment correlation statistical tool for hypothesis two respectively at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the exercise, the following results were obtained: There is a significant difference in the performance in English among students in both private and public schools, there is a significant relationship between the spoken English of students in public and private schools, and there is a significant gender difference in the performance of students in English language due to school type. Based on the conclusions of this study, the following recommendations were made: Teachers should not discriminate against their students in the school. They should ensure that all their students are loved and preferred. Rather, teachers, irrespective of their gender, should ensure that they do not give preferential treatment to their students so as to avoid being biased against those students they dislike and giving undue advantage to their favourites in the school.
1.1 Background to the Study
English Language plays an important role in the social, political and educational sectors of Nigeria as a country. It is Nigeria’s official language, it is also referred to as a second language (L2). It is the means of social, political and even cultural interaction among the various ethnic groups in the country.
This is why some people tend to use and refer to it as a “lingua franca”, English Language is not just a subject in the school curriculum, but the medium of instruction in all other subjects except indigenous language. It is a very important language (Jibowu, 2002). According to Jibowu (2002), the low performance in English language by students at the West African Examination Council (WAEC), for example usually brings great concern to parents, educationists and teachers and the nation at large. A credit pass at least in the subject is required for admission into higher institutions and for employment.
The ability to speak intelligibly and write Standard English (SE) is often seen as a yardstick for determining the educational standard of a person, his/her ability and competence in the language of instruction have some influence on the quality of performance in the other subjects.
According to Ubahakwe and Ebo (1989), Nigeria in her 1979 constitution advocated equal opportunity in education for her citizens. Education in Nigeria is expected to play a harmonizational role which is as an instrument of national unity. Nigeria is an egalitarian society where equal opportunity in education should be given to the citizens but suffice it to say that this situation does not occur. A situation where only the particular set of children get into the unity schools does not allow the same equality of education for the citizens.
Durojaiye (1994) observed that the current issue in Nigeria is efficiency in education. According to him, in recent times, parents claim that there have been more sophisticated measures of efficiency in private fee paying schools than in public non-fee paying schools in the state schools. This efficiency in the private schools ranges from the employment of enough and qualify English language teachers, motivation of teachers, adequate remuneration and provision of the same teaching-learning materials. Parents according to Durojaiye (1994) draw this conclusion from the fact that many children from these private schools gain admission to federal schools and most likely, into the universities while others end up as bus conductors, drivers, carpenters, street traders, mechanics, apprentices and in other menial jobs.
Only a few who went to the public schools gain admission into the universities (Chief Examiner’s Report, 2000). Adeleke (1990) and Effiong (1994) state that the rate at which the private fee-paying schools are being established in Lagos State is alarming as well as the rate at which parents rush to them for admission of their children. Durotoye (1996) is of the opinion that it is the opinion of the parents about private schools and the public schools that one is inclined to make a research into the performance level of the children from the public schools and the children from private schools in their senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) particularly in English language and other subjects.
In the past, efforts have been made to ensure correct measurement for the various variables on children’s academic performance, students’ academic achievement in both the private and public secondary schools could be measured in terms of their public examination results organized by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and other related examination bodies such as JAMB, NECO and GCE.
From the result published by WAEC in 1996 and 1999, out of the 360,000 students that sat for English language examination, the percentage pass is higher for the private schools than the public schools (WAEC, 2001).
According to Adeleke (1990) many factors contribute to mass failure of students in English Language and other subjects especially from public non-fee paying schools. He identified such factors as lack of motivation for teachers, students, low interest in studying, unconducive school environment, lack of current textbooks, non-provision of equipment, lack of up-top-date art learning equipment and inadequate supply or provision of other important teaching and learning materials in the public schools, other factors also include government neglect of teachers, non-staff training programmes or inadequate staff training and retraining programmes, poor remuneration and so on.
Ajayi (2000) is of the opinion that the factors that militate against learning achievement in the public schools are exactly those factors that promote or enhance high academic performance in the private schools. For example, Ajayi states that there are good teaching – learning environment in the private schools, teachers and students are motivated to teach and learn respectively. There is adequate provision of facilities to facilitate the students learning environment in the private schools.
Amaonye (2000) and Anozie (2001) state that, students usually perform dismally in the public fee-paying schools, because, most of the students who are in the public schools do not speak English language fluently, and this has affected their academic performance in the subject-matter. They believe that without deep knowledge of the English Language, it will be impossible for students to do well in any subject offered in the school. According to them, English Language is the basic language used in virtually all the subjects offered in the school by students. So, for students to perform some measure of success in their academic career, they need to have some measure of proficiency in English language both written and spoken.
In a study carried out by Adeosun and Anyanwu (2005), it was reported that, students perform better in English language in most of the private schools located in Lagos State, than the public secondary schools. According to their report, this cannot be unconnected with the fact that despite the fact that teachers who teach English language in the public schools are well qualified and well experienced, they do not put in efforts commensurate with their knowledge and experience in the subject to teaching it in the classroom. Most teachers in the public secondary schools who teach English language in the school system, have both the mastery and methodology of the subject-matter, but lack the requisite attitude towards the impartation of the subject to the learner. For instance, teachers in Nigerian secondary schools, especially, the fee-paying schools, do not teach with all their minds, simply because, the government do not accord them good treatment, in terms of the positive working conditions (Uzomah, 2006), and adequate compensation or rewards for job they perform in the teaching profession. This has lowered their morale and general ability to carry out their teaching profession effectively. By extention, this has resulted in the dismal or poor performance of their students who could not compete effectively with their contemporaries.
Many teachers who teach in the public schools, combine teaching with other business ventures in order to make ends meet. This has affected their work performance and productivity as English language teachers employed to teach in the secondary schools in Lagos State (Mundi, 1990). Whereas teachers who teach in the private schools teach with greater amount of commitment because they are squarely supervised by the school managers who are always on ground to monitor what is going on in the schools, especially, the activities of teachers in the school. This causes private secondary school teachers to be committed in their work and the resultant effect is the high productivity rate, in terms of students’ high academic achievement regarded by the private school students in English Language, year in year out in Nigerian organized public examinations results.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem inherent in carrying out a comparative study on the academic performance of students in public and private secondary schools in English Language cannot be overemphasized. This is because there may exist a wide gap between the performance of students in the public schools and that of students in the private schools, especially in English language. Generally speaking, many students may be found to have low performance in English language, and the problem of poor performance is relatively prominent among students in the public schools. This is because many teachers who teach in the public secondary schools, may lack the positive attitudes to impart the knowledge to the students.
Workers perform well if they are rewarded and motivated. In the case of the public school teachers who may be poorly motivated and rewarded for the work they do, the resultant effect is the non-challant attitudes teachers exhibit in teaching the English language in the public schools across the country and in Lagos State in particular. Some teachers who teach English language in the public secondary schools do not pay undivided attention to the classroom teaching because they combine teaching with other jobs like trading, past-time teaching and so on, due to the possible poor condition of service that exists in the public service when compared with their colleagues in both State and Federal ministries. For instance, in the public secondary schools, there exists delayed payment of salaries, poor fringe benefits and low regard for the teaching profession by both the government and the society.
The poor teaching conditions of teachers, coupled with non-regarded of the teaching profession, have resulted in the dismal performance of students in English language, due to poor teachers’ performance. Not only that, this has taken a dangerous tool on the standard of education in the school system and by extension, on the Nigerian economy, which has in any case affected public relations and the diplomatic relations with the outside world in general. This is because, English being the general tool of communication and commerce with the outside world, poor teaching of it, will automatically result to poor learning and poor usage with other people of the world.
The above problems gave rise to the investigation into the comparison between the academic performance of students in public and private secondary schools in Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to carry out a comparative study on the academic performance of students in the public and private secondary schools in English Language in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. The objectives of this study include to:
(1) find out whether there exists a difference between the academic performance of students in public and private secondary schools in English language.
(2) compare the performance of students in private schools with those in the public schools in English language.
(3) identify the factors militating against the high performance of students in English language in secondary schools in private and public school.
(4) investigate whether gender difference exists in the performance of students in English language in private and public schools.
(5) examine whether there is a difference in the job performance of teachers in English language in public and private schools.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are raised in this study:
1. Is there any difference in the performance in English language among students who are in private and those in public schools?
2. Is there any relationship between the performance of students who come from public schools and those who come from private schools?
3. Are there factors militating against high performance of students in English language in secondary schools?
4. Is there gender difference in the performance of students in English language in public and private schools?
5. Is there any difference in the job performance of teachers in English language in public and private schools?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following hypothesis are to guide the conduct of this study:
(1) There will be no significant difference in the performance in English language among students in private and public schools.
(2) There will be no significant relationship between the performance of students in public and private schools in English language.
(3) There will be no significant gender difference in students’ performance due to school type.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be beneficial to the following individuals:
Teachers: They would have an insight into the essence of motivating students to learn English language in schools be it private or public schools. The study will help English language teachers both in public and private schools to brace up to teach the subject better.
Parents: Parents will benefit from the study because, it will enable them to appraise the performance of their children/wards in both public and private schools.
Students: No doubt, students would benefit from this study because it will help them to be abreast with the fact that if English language is well taught, it will result to high performance of students. Also, students would learn that English language plays a very important role in Nigeria and outside of it.
Society: The society also benefit from the study in the sense that it will enable them to have an insight in the performance of students in English language in both private and public schools.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study covered the academic performance of students in public and private secondary schools in English Language in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. The essence of carrying out this study is to investigate the perceived poor performance of students in English Language in both public and private schools.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The study was limited by finance, time and sourcing of materials. It was also constrained by certain inhibitions in terms of data collection which some respondents were not in good disposition to give out easily.
1.9 Operational Definitions of Terms
Operational definitions of some terms used in the study are hereby given as follows:
Private Schools: This refers to secondary schools owned and financed by private individuals in Nigeria.
Public Schools: This means schools owned, controlled and managed by the government, which could be federal government or the state government.
Academic performance: This refers to the overall performance of students in both their continuous assessments, and examinations over a period of school time.
Comparative Study: This means finding out the relationship between two or more things or variables.
Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State: This local government is one of the 27 local government areas in Lagos State. It is one of the oldest local government areas in Lagos State. It is situated in the western part of Lagos State. This local government is densely populated with all ethnic groups, religious and other socio-cultural groups in Nigeria.