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Factors of Poor Student Performance ...



1.0 Background to the study

Education is considered as the development of the endowed capacities in the individual, which will enable the one to control his/her environment and fulfil his/her possibilities to a large extent (Saxton, 2000). Indeed, in this era of globalization and technological revolution, education is considered as the first step for every human activity. It plays a vital role in the development of human capital and is linked with an individual’s well-being and opportunities for better living (Battle & Lewis, 2002).

According Kimani, Kara and Njagi (2013) the purpose of education is to equip the citizenry with values, skills and knowledge to reshape their society and eliminate inequality. This is because education helps an individual develop his/her capabilities, attitudes and behaviour that is acceptable to the society. The benefits of having quality education is that it is able to adapt to the changing needs of the country as the world changes and spearhead the development of human resource and the country’s economy. Hoyle (1986) argued that schools are established with the aim of imparting knowledge and skills to those who attend them. According to Ankomah, Koomson, Bonsu and Oduro (2005), high academic performance, as measured by the examination results, is one of the major goals of a school. Behind all this is the idea of enhancing good academic performance.

Education is an avenue for training and learning, especially in schools or colleges, to improve knowledge and develop skills. The ultimate purpose of education is to empower an individual to excel in a chosen field of endeavour or career, and to be able to positively impact his/her environment. Students are the most essential assets for any educational institution (Sentamu, 2003). This view, however, becomes valid only when students’ academic performance is good enough. The social and economic development of the country is directly linked with student academic performance.

The students’ performance (academic achievement) plays an important role in producing the best quality students who will become great leaders and manpower for the country. They are thus responsible for the country’s economic and social development (Ali, Jusoff, Syukriah, Najah, & Syafena, 2009). Grades awarded to individuals at the end of an academic study are important indicators of ability and productivity when those individuals look for their first jobs. In fact, a person’s education is closely linked to his/her life chances, income and wellbeing (Battle & Lewis, 2002). Thus, students’ success in any academic task has always been of special interest to educators, parents and society at large (Ajayi, 2006).

The issue of factors affecting students’ academic performance, therefore, remains a top priority to educators (Considine & Zappala, 2002).A number of studies have been carried out to identify the factors that affect academic performance of students in a number of educational institutions worldwide. Most of these studies focus on three elements that intertwine, that is, parents (family causal factors), teachers (academic causal factors), and students (personal causal factors) (Crosnoe, & Elder, 2004). The combination of these factors influencing academic performance, however, varies from one academic environment to another, from one set of students to the next, and indeed from one cultural setting to another (Diaz, 2003).

The Government of Nigeria has made every effort to improve the academic performance of students. One of the efforts is the introduction and implementation of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). This policy has been given a further boost with the introduction of a capitation grant and the attendant school feeding programme (SFP). In spite of these developments, the education sector continues to face many challenges. According to ISSER (2008) the performance of many children in the school, is failing to meet the minimum learning requirements and to acquire basic skills and competencies.

Pupil’s performance is considered a vital indicator of good schooling, so the poor performance of pupils at the basic level of education has not only led to public outcry, but also educationists have been increasingly occupied in their attempt to identify factors that influence pupil’s performance especially in Basic Education Certificate Examination in Nigeria (ISSER, 2008). In fact, a number of factors have been identified as contributing to the poor performance of students’ in Basic Education Certificate Examination in Nigeria.

This has become a recurrent phenomenon which has militated against the smooth transition from the basic level to the secondary (Adetunde & Asare, 2009). For example, Anamuah-Mensah (2010), attributed the phenomenon to lack of effective supervision and monitoring at school, lack of motivation for teachers and inadequate number of qualified teachers to fill empty classrooms. Diaz (2003) found factors such as intellectual ability, poor study habit, achievement motivation, lack of vocational goals, low self concept, low socio-economic status of the family, poor family structure and anxiety as contributing to educational performance.

Again, socio-economic background, and particularly parents’ education has a positive influence on the academic performance of students (Jeynes, 2002; Nyarko, 2011). Also, Anderson, Benjamin and Fuss, (1994) found that individual characteristics such as previous school achievements, academic self-efficacy or study motivation are positively correlated with academic performance.

Furthermore, Adetunde and Asare, (2009) and Ajayi, (2006) in an assessment of student academic performance in Kasena-Nankana and Asuogyaman Districts of Ghana also found that the mass failure of students in both internal and external examinations can be attributed to a number of factors which include teacher factors (low qualification, lack of experience, poor salaries and allowances, poor supervision), organisational climate (open and close), and student factors (poor ability of students, under age, unwillingness to learn, bad peer groups influence).

Gleaning from above, it is very conspicuous that poor academic performance is a phenomenon that needs to be given critical attention, not only looking at it from the generic perspective but looking in detail, the specific factors that are responsible for poor academic performance in each school, because the perceived causes of poor academic performance vary from school to school and environment to environment.