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The main purpose of this study was to ascertain the impact of school climate on students’ achievement in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia State. The study utilized ex-post facto research design.  Three research questions were answered.  A structured questionnaire was used to elicit information for the study.  The target population comprised of 86 business teachers that teach Commerce in senior secondary schools within Ohafia education zone of Abia state. The sample size consists of the entire population of the Commerce teachers which is 85 Commerce teachers; hence no sampling technique was adopted for the teachers. The research instrument was subjected to face validation by three experts, two from the Department of Vocational Teacher Education and one from the Department of Psychology all from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The reliability coefficient of the instrument for the study was 0.91, 0.67, and 0.94 for clusters A, B, C, and overall cluster was 0.84, which was calculated using Cronbach Alpha Reliability method. The data obtained were analyzed using mean and standard deviation for the research questions and t-test for the hypotheses. Findings of this study revealed that even though school climate (engagement, safety and environment) influences students’ achievement, it is not being handled properly or taken care of in the schools in Ohafia Education Zone which was evident on the students’ achievement in Commerce in WAEC and NECO examinations as reflected in the statement of problem. For instance, on engagement, it was found that schools in the area do not give closer attention to students from other countries and ethnic groups in solving their academic problems; schools do not encourage students to enroll in different school programmes regardless of their ethnic group or race; and that students are not encouraged to chose commercial subjects of which Commerce is one of them irrespective of ethnic group among others. Also, on safety, it was found that there is always physical fighting among students; there are cases of harassment and bullying among students; there are cases of theft among students in the school; and that students are being truant in attending classes among others.  Similarly, on environment, schools in the area have no good building plan; there is no proper care and maintenance of the school facilities; the classroom has no modern gadgets (e.g, fan, air conditioner, sound furniture); and that there is no well equipped library. Findings equally revealed no significant difference in the mean ratings of urban and rural teachers on the extent engagement, safety and environment of school climate influence students achievement in the area. Based on the findings, it was concluded that teachers and school managers should make concerted effort in improving school climate within the zone since it holds a lot of promises for students, teachers and the school generally. Finally, it was recommended among others that school climate (engagement, safety and environment) should be enhanced by school management and teachers for improved academic achievement.





Background of the Study

School climate is a significant element in improving students’ academic achievement. Student achievement is a major objective of every educational delivery system. This objective can be achieved through comfortable school climate. School climate is an integral and indispensable component of the teaching and learning process in Nigeria and the world at large. Indeed, no meaningful teaching and learning can take place in an environment that is not conducive and safe to both learners and teachers. It is, therefore, imperative that educational stakeholders foster safety and security of school environments to facilitate increased learner enrolment, retention and completion and hence attainment and quality education (UNESCO, 2006).

Schools perceived as being positive, safe, and nurturing environments focused on student learning, perform better in examinations regardless of available technology or teacher training. This is not to say that a school with no textbooks will outperform one with textbooks based solely on environment, but that the learning environment and climate produced by the school as a whole may help or hinder learning.

The learning environment determines the quality of education. The quality of education tends to be evaluated in terms of the number of students passing national examinations (Ndiku, 2011). The expectation of parents is that their children perform well in national examinations in any secondary school attended as long as the criterion for admission to these schools is the same. This is not however the case as the perception among many parents is that some schools seemingly perform better than others. This has resulted in many parents rushing to secure admission in these better performing schools in the cities while the rest, with poor resources and facilities, continue to record low enrolment, let alone the poor performance in national examinations, that is West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).

Constant attention must, therefore, be paid by all stakeholders in education towards the creation and continuation of a school climate that is warm, welcoming, supportive, and conducive to the learner. Such a school climate exists when all students feel comfortable, wanted, valued, accepted and secure in an environment where they can interact with caring and trusting people.

However, no school is exactly the same as the other as a result there is differences in the achievement of students. Schools show a lot of differences in terms of the feel, atmosphere or ideology, student behavior, academic performance, social and civic values, moral character, and interpersonal skills. The cumulative effect of these differences creates the climate of the school. These differences have been confirmed by many studies which have been conducted linking a positive school climate to student achievement (Carter, 2000; DuFour, 2000; Goddard, Tschannen – Moran, & Hoy 2001; Kerlinger, 2000; Lezotte, 2002). These studies established that a positive school climate exists as an essential element in successful schools. Freiberg in Ndiku (2011) asserts that school climate can have a favorable influence on the health of the learning environment or a significant barrier to learning. This is the case with Ohafia education zone.

Ohafia education zone is made up 87 secondary schools out of which 22 schools are located in the urban areas and the rest 65 in rural area. Although Ohafia education zone may be seen as agrarian society even though as old metropolis in Abia state but the concern of the parents for the success of their children in education is overwhelmingly high, as such so many stakeholders are involved in suggesting ways to improve the teaching and learning atmosphere – school climate in the zone.  The concept “school climate”, though very important in education, has no one common definition. Myriads of researchers and scholars suggest that school climate, essentially, reflects subjective experiences in a school (Cohen, 2006).

Pioneering works of early researchers did attempt to define school climate in a variety of ways. Perry (1908) was the first educational leader to explicitly write about how school climate affects students and the process of learning. Halpin and Croft in Ndiku (2011) define school climate as the social atmosphere of a setting or a “learning environment” in which students have different experiences depending upon the protocols set up by the teachers and administrators. Maine Guidelines in Ndiku (2011) define school climate as the synthesis of policies, procedures, activities, programs and facilities both formal and informal within a school infrastructure that affect the attitudes and behavior of all people in the school, staff, students, parents and visitors.

The concept of school climate is multi–dimensional and influences many individuals including students, parents, school personnel and the community. This concept has received attention from various authors and experts in education in a bid to finding solution to poor achievement of students. A good number of them described it from the perspective of the prevailing atmosphere in a school environment.  Of a truth good atmosphere determines the achievement of students in a school. Whether a student achieves well or not all depends on how he perceives the school environment as meeting his academic needs.

In a school environment a lot of factors determine the tone and nature of the academic process which impact on the students’ achievement.  Haynes in Ndiku (2011) asserts that a positive school climate perception helps to supply high risk students with a supportive learning environment as well as preventing anti–social behavior. Such a climate is associated with fewer behavioral and emotional problems for students. Sweetland and Hoy (2000) defined school climate as a relatively enduring quality of the entire school that is experienced by participants, their collective perception of behavior and affects their attitudes in the school. School climate can also be defined as the quality and character of school life (Larry, 2013). Although these definitions are as varied as the schools themselves, they have one common element that school climate affects members of a school either positively or negatively. School climate can however be referred to as the totality of factors present in a school which determines the teaching and learning process.

Griffit (2000), opined that school climate is the overall factors that affect a learners’ attitude in school. These factors are broadly classified into three groups namely engagement, safety and environment. Each group has sub groups and each of the sub-groups has great impact on the achievement of students in the school. These factors can make or mar the achievement of students in the school. This is because they determine the comfort of a school in learning.  The schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state face drop in number and poor academic achievement of secondary school students in the recent time. This problem is suspected to have arisen as a result of poor school climate prevailing in the education zone.

The Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) journal (2015), lends credence to the above claim. The journal reported the outcome of students’ performance in WAEC and NECO results released in 2014/2015 in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone. The report further revealed that some schools’ results were seized while others were very poor. During the examination, invigilators reported incidences of malpractice where students were caught trying to copy from text books and from their friends. This situation is quite disheartening, telling the extent to which our school climate has failed us in delivering quality instructions to the students.   This problem has prompted interest from researchers and practitioners as to what to do in order to bring this ugly situation under control.  In particular, the emphasis would be on how schools can improve student achievement and the quality of school life.

The school climate can improve students’ achievement in Ohafia education zone of Abia state if such factors as engagement, safety and environment are adequately addressed in the education zone. These factors summarize all factors that affect a learner’s attitude in school because they determine students’ daily experience in school. Therefore, if school climate reflects the daily school experiences of the education community, a collaborative environment where all members feel supported and cared for, it could lead to better teaching and learning and ultimately better student academic achievement.

School climate can positively impact on student’s levels of engagement and connectedness to their studies. Engagement is defined as the relationship between the student and the school community, including the school adults, peers, the instruction and the curriculum (Yassie-Mintz, 2009).  When students are engaged in daily events in school, they experience a sense of “voice” and feel as if they are important part of the school community.  More importantly, when students feel connected to the school, they are likely not to engage in acts of aggression, victimization, and bullying. Students who feel connected and accepted within the school community are more likely to experience academic success and less likely to engage in risky behaviours (Blum, 2005). According to Bradshaw (2014), engagement involves cultural and linguistic competence, relationships and school participation.

Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. In Ohafia education zone there are some students and staff from francophone countries like Cameroun, Gabon, Benin Republic, etc. Others are from Anglophone countries like USA, Ghana, United Kingdom, etc. The students from these areas are from different cultural background although they are Ohafia indigens, and they find it difficult in adjusting to the system. A special mechanism should be put in place to carry such students along. This is what cultural and linguistic competence advocates.

Relationships on the other hand are the positive connections between students, adults and peers in the school setting that foster positive social interaction and establish a nurturing environment of trust and support. Students who feel connected to school are more likely to succeed, they have better school attendance, grades, and test scores and stay in school longer. Building these relationships require perspectives that embrace positive attitudes and beliefs, cultural and linguistic competence, an understanding of the needs and experiences of students, and an understanding of the school environment. Teacher-student relationship and student-student relationship should be cordial, warm and devoid of threats. Unfortunately, teacher-student relationship is not healthy enough in Ohafia education zone as undue advantage of the female students are taken by some callous male teachers sexually and traces of unhealthy relationships are noticed even among the students. Incidences of abuse and harassment by students among themselves take the school time in the disciplinary committee. This poses challenge and distraction to the achievement of the students.

School participation as an aspect of the engagement factor is the involvement of students, staff, and families in playing a critical role in building and maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment. A strong connection between staff, students, families, and the school setting creates a positive climate as demonstrated by participation in school activities and governance, as well as the inclusion of the community at large into school activities. Students are much more likely to participate in school when they feel support from parents and school staff. They need to feel connected to the school by working with staff and administrators in creating a positive school climate. Administrators need to work with the teachers in providing their classroom needs.

More so, the administrator-teacher relationship plays a crucial role in determining the climate of a school. According to Ellet and Walberg in Nwosu (2002), an administrator is somebody whose job is to manage the affairs of a business organization or institution.  In the school the administrator is the principal. The rapport which exists between the subject teacher and the principal (administrator) determine the administration’s level of support for the proposals and programmes of individual teachers on each subject. This administrator-teacher relationship otherwise called administration’s support is found not taking a deep turn in improving the performance of students in the learning and teaching of Commerce (Thomasson, 2006). This might be because most administrators feel threatened of losing their positions to their teachers. They develop defense mechanism to keep the rival teacher far away from the administrative whims. The New York State study as reported in Larry, (2013) holds that relationship of administrators with teachers is important in creating a climate for achievement. The study found out that administrator-teacher relationships were positively related to students’ achievement. Good relationships imply that there is consensus on school goals and student outcomes, which should be basically academic.

Unfortunately this relationship does not always exist between the teachers and the administrators, mostly when the administrators see the teachers as being against their personal goals and interest. Most of the proposals sent to the administrators on how to improve learning in the subject may be turned down for the reason of the teacher not being in the good book. Administrative squabbles between the teacher and the administrator pose a lot of problems to the performance of the students and altogether their interest in teaching and learning Commerce. This condition is prominent in the urban secondary schools.

Additionally, the surrounding community is an essential element in providing good school climate. When schools and communities integrate, they are able to promote systematic change by providing resources and services that students need to thrive academically and emotionally. Community support is a strong school climate factor that determines the performance of students in Commerce. Ashiwobel (2010) defined community as group of people sharing common interest, belief and attitude and lives within a geographical area. The community has an obligation for the school likewise the school to the community. The community can make donations in form of cash and materials to the school. Such materials or equipment like computers can be donated by individual or group of individual from the community which will aid the instructional process of the school. Good facilities donated by the community can determine the tone of the school climate. The school can reciprocate this by turning out students that will use the knowledge acquired to better the lot of the community.

Furthermore, safety is an essential factor in school climate. Bradshaw (2014) defined school safety as schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance use.
Safe schools promotes the protection of students from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft, bullying, and the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds.  School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. In particular, emotional and physical safeties in school are related to academic performance. At the same time, students who are victims of physical or emotional harassment or who are involved in the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds are at risk for poor attendance, subject failure and dropout. Bradshaw (2014) classified school safety as consisting of emotional safety, physical safety, bullying/cyber bullying and substance abuse.

Emotional safety is an experience in which one feels safe to express emotions, security, and confidence to take risks and feel challenged and excited to try something new. Emotionally safe learning environments can be achieved by making social and emotional learning (SEL) an essential part of education.  SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy to others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Teachers that are in the habit of scolding and nagging at students scare students away and their emotional safety is abused. Some teachers in Ohafia education zone are in this habit.

Physical safety by its meaning refers to the protection of all stakeholders, including families, caregivers, students, school staff, and the community, from violence, theft, and exposure to weapons and threats, in order to establish a secure learning environment. For students to learn, they need to feel safe.  It is essential that all students have the opportunity to attend schools that provide a safe environment where they can thrive and fully engage in their studies without the distraction and worry about physical safety concerns. Physical safety is essential for a safe and supportive learning environment in which students and staff can thrive. Risky behaviours such as acts of violence, imperil safety for students and staff, and undermine the teaching and learning climate. Students are more on the extreme in abusing their physical safety.

In most schools in Ohafia education zone, students are found in illegal possession of knives (daggers) and bottles. They use it on their fellow students and staff in any little misunderstanding. Students of this sort can never do well academically. They make the environment hostile in learning thereby discouraging other students. Physical safety is important for students’ connection to school and their education experience.

Bullying/cyber bullying is another significant aspect of the school safety that determines a student’s achievement. Bullying is defined as a form of unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and that is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Imbalance of power as used here involves the use of physical strength, popularity, or access to embarrassing information to hurt or control another person while repetition means occurring more than once or having the potential to occur more than once. Bullying is common in every school, and secondary schools being a place for the adolescents cannot be exempted from this threat.

Ohafia education zone is faced with the problem of bullying among students.  On the other hand cyber bullying refers to bullying using electronic devices, such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, or other communication tools, including social media sites, text messages, chat rooms, and websites. Cyber bullying is not common with schools in Abia state and in Ohafia education zone and as such it is not a familiar case in our secondary schools since students are not allowed to use phones, ipads in the schools. The computer most schools use in teaching the students are not connected to the internet.

Substance abuse is another likely factor that influences the attitude of a student in the school. Substance abuse encompasses a harmful pattern of use of alcohol, tobacco products, and illicit drugs; this includes the presence of substance use and trade within school and campus environments and during school-related activities. Most students learn the use of alcohol from home and introduce it to their peers in school. An average Ohafia family takes alcohol first in the morning mostly to get them ready for the day’s work. This may be because of the nature of their agrarian society and a seemingly cold weather within the zone. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs undermines students’ ability to achieve academically, is associated with other harmful behaviors, and is incompatible with a school climate of respect, safety, and support for learning. Poor achievement of students in Commerce in Ohafia education zone may be linked to substance abuse.

Under safety factors emergency readiness/management is imperative in determining the school climate. This refers to guiding against unexpected occurrences that can pose danger to life. Communities and families expect schools and learning institutions to ensure their children and youth are safe in the face of an emergency, including violence, crime, natural disasters, epidemics, and accidents. It is critical for schools and communities to work together to develop plans that can be effectively implemented in the event of an emergency. Safe and supportive learning environments provide a foundation of positive relationships and systems that can help staff and students better face the challenges of managing during an emergency, as well as the resilience to overcome the challenges emergencies present.

Unfortunately there are no emergency rules and procedures that are laid down in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone. Accidents and other emergency situations are taken care of by the families of the victims of that circumstance. This situation makes learning unsafe and uncomfortable. Students in this school climate can hardly do well. Therefore, to effectively prepare for and manage an emergency, promoting and maintaining safe supportive learning environments is key.

Environment is one of the essential factors of school climate. Environment is defined broadly as facilities, classrooms, school-based health supports, and disciplinary policies and practices that affect students in the school. A positive school environment is defined as a school having appropriate facilities, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health supports, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy. There are many hallmarks of the academic, disciplinary, and physical environments of schools with a positive climate. Bradshaw (2015) classified environment as physical environment, academic environment, physical health, mental health and discipline.

Physical environment refers to the level of upkeep, ambient noise, lighting, indoor air quality and/or thermal comfort of the school’s physical building and its location within the community. Location as one of the elements mentioned here implies the geographical area where the school is sited (Thomasson, 2006).   A school sited in a rural area does not share an exact school climate with the one in the city. This is as a result of the opportunities that their different locations afford them. A school in a city has more government impact than the one in the rural area. Such schools are always equipped with both material and human resources. This condition may be as a result of people’s preferences to urban life styles.

Conversely, secondary schools in rural area may be under-staffed and not properly equipped as a result of people’s ill feelings about rural life; nobody wants to be in the village. Students’ academic performance in these two settings can hardly be the same as teachers in the urban areas are more motivated to teach since virtually all they need are provided as opposed to teachers in the rural area where there is information gap, low government presence and poor teachers’ motivation.

Location of a school as an aspect of the physical environment can adversely affect students’ performance in learning of Commerce.   The physical environment of the school also speaks to the contribution that safe, clean, and comfortable surroundings make to a positive school climate in which students can learn. Most schools surrounding in Ohafia educational zone are seen unkempt, bushy and dilapidated. Most students find it difficult to establish affection with the environment as a result they resort to truancy and absent themselves from classes. This absenteeism affects their achievement in Commerce. Furthermore, physical environment is not complete without a good mention of instructional materials.

Physical environment deeply involves the use of instructional material in instructional delivery in Commerce, this is because the teaching and learning process in Commerce involves the use of concrete material like pictures, receipts, invoices and excursions during the teaching and learning process. The effective use of instructional material contributes a lot to school climate and students academic achievement. Nwachukwu (2006), defined instructional materials as all the practical and skill developing resources that would facilitate the process of teaching, learning and evaluation of technical and vocational skills. Lack of instructional materials and poor orientation of teachers on the use of instructional materials has led to teaching Commerce in abstract term (Igboke, 2000). This dampens the spirit and interest of the students. Things which ordinarily the students would see are treated as though not in real existence because the instructional materials are not readily available.

In an effective school climate suitable and appropriate instructional materials for all subjects including Commerce should be central at the heart of instructional delivery. A condition whereby business documents are taught by drawing it on the board with a verbal explanation leaves the students to wonder if such document is real in existence. This practice is capable of making a student lose interest in the subject and perhaps may bring about poor performance in the subject. This menacing situation can be addressed by the appropriate use of instructional materials in the classroom.

Berling, Porter and Brophy in Larry (2013) emphasized the importance of the teacher in providing a climate conducive for learning through instructional materials. In their opinion, an effective teacher manages his classroom, curriculum and all activities purposefully in providing opportunity for learning. This is often made possible by the use of adequate instructional materials most fitting for a subject matter. The skill of the teacher in presenting these instructional materials during the learning process matters a lot. Larry, (2013), pointed out that teacher’s presentation skill can encourage or inhibit a learning process and that the instructional materials should be appropriate to the students’ ability levels and the emphasis should be on mastery learning.

It is quite unfortunate however, that most secondary schools do not make provisions for the instructional materials, thereby leaving the teacher to make improvisation where he could. The teacher in most cases may see it daunting to always improvise. This can make so many lessons halfly done and sometimes undone, and so students are denied of practical knowledge. This leaves the students in wonder if there is any real life application of such knowledge. Therefore lack of instructional materials for the Commerce teachers to deliver the subject as an aspect of physical environment largely contributes to the poor performance of senior secondary school students in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone.

Academic environment otherwise known as instructional environment refers to the instructional, behavioral, and personal aspects of the classroom experience. Academic environment is made up multiple interrelated facets that can either support or inhibit learning (Bradshaw, 2014). A positive academic environment is characterized by high quality instruction – instructional process, peers and staff who support achievement-oriented behavior and serve as positive role models, high academic expectations, and institutional academic supports for struggling students. High levels of teacher satisfaction, a sense of collective responsibility among staff for promoting academic achievement, and the availability of teaching materials also characterize a positive academic environment.

Teaching and learning process as an aspect of academic environment can greatly impact the achievement of a student as it is one element of the school climate factors. Teaching and learning process are the activities engaged by the teacher and the learner which bring about changed behavior in the attitudes of the learner. Teaching and learning process offers opportunities to both teacher and leaner to actively take part. For the learner to learn, active participation is needed and this must be direct and practical activities (Nwachukwu, 2006).  On the other hand the teacher should plan his lesson to target the students bearing in mind of the specific objectives of the lesson which he would like to achieve. In every teaching and learning process, the students are the target audience. Therefore the teacher’s lesson must be student centered. In making teaching and learning process rewarding to the learner the teacher should be focused on the specific objectives and as much as possible employ different teaching strategies to realize the lesson objectives. Any deviation from this can make the teaching and learning process boring, which may lead to students’ loss of interest in the subject (Commerce).

Similarly, the quality of the teacher as significant personnel is an essential part of good school climate. Igboke (2000), defined a qualified business teacher as one who has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; has done student teaching practice in an approved secondary school; has done professional education courses in their area of pedagogy and has competence in the subject matter and skills he intends to teach. The author further stated that besides this general qualification, a qualified teacher should have such personal qualification as good command of English Language, an interest in working with young people, goodwill of the associates or superiors, good appearance and most of all good character. A  Commerce teacher is expected to possess the above qualities in order to deliver sound knowledge to the students in the classroom. A qualified teacher therefore, is one who has the requisite training and skill needed to impart knowledge to students.

Most often, the handicap suffered in Commerce is the recruitment of teachers who do not have the requisite qualifications to teach it. Fresh graduates are often engaged mainly as P.T.A teachers to teach Commerce that they do not have the full experience and qualification. In some extreme cases teachers whose disciplines are not related to Commerce are engaged to teach it. “Read and teach” now becomes the order of the day. Qualified teachers (personnel) can activate, direct and impart the right values and attitudes needed of a subject to the learners (Ashiwobel, 2010). A teacher who is qualified is a motivation to the students. He creates the learning opportunity, manipulates the learning environment and drives the students to an altitude of achievement.

However, the problem of teacher qualification is peculiar with school. For instance students in the rural secondary schools in Ohafia education zone face the problem of lack of on-the-job trainings, further studies, seminars and workshops for continuous improvement in the delivery of quality instructions in Commerce owing to information gap and distances of their respective schools from the city. It is pertinent to point out that teachers develop healthy attitudes towards a subject when they get a sense of support from the administration through further studies, seminars and workshops (Ashiwobel, 2010). In Ohafia education zone of Abia state some students are taught by teachers who lack the qualification to teach the subject (Commerce), as a result the students are poorly motivated. Students who are poorly motivated lack interest in the subject but students who are brought up by well trained and qualified teachers are better motivated and can perform better. Motivation is defined as any cognitive, emotional or social activity that activates and directs behavior (Nwosu, 2002). To motivate the students should be one of the reasons why training teachers should occupy an important position in any school’s administrative plan.

Moreover, physical health is an indispensable element in the environmental factor of the school climate. Physical health is the physical wellbeing of the school community and its members (Bradshaw, 2014). Environments that enhance student learning require attention to the physical health and safety needs of the entire school community. Research demonstrates that academic achievement improves in schools where students are physically healthy and feel physically safe. Ultimately, a healthy school community is the foundation for a comprehensive high-quality education. Exercise, school nurse and school health services promote academic learning. Unfortunately, Ohafia education zone does not invest resources in developing sporting facilities and school health services. Most secondary schools within the zone do not have sick bay where the students are taken care of. As a result of this most students resort to self medication thereby indulging in the misuse and abuse of drugs. This can distract their attention in school thereby leading to poor achievement.

Similarly, school climate is not complete without a good mention of the mental health. Mental health is an essential element in the environment factor of the school climate. Mental health is defined as the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals (Bradshaw, 2014). Mental health is a level of psychological wellbeing, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment” (Witziers, Brooker & Kruger, 2003). From the perspective of positive psychology or holism, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) report (2014), mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.” WHO further states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work and contribution to their community. Mental health promotes healthy development, functioning and increases the capacity of individuals to live productive lives while striving towards reaching their full potential. A major aspect of the school environment includes promoting the mental health of all students, and the provision of programs and services to address those needs. Ohafia education zone may be seen as a place dry of any such programe for students’ mental health. Its dryness could be as a result of being unaware of this important phenomenon by teachers and administrators of school.

Additionally, discipline is central in determining school climate and it is an aspect of the environment factor. A school without disciplinary measures breeds vipers as students as the students lack direction and focus on morals and academic achievement. Greenberg (2010), defined school discipline as the system of rules, punishments, and behavioral strategies appropriate to the regulation of children or adolescents and the maintenance of order in schools. Its aim is to control the students’ actions and behavior. An obedient student is in compliance with the school rules and codes of conduct. These rules may, for example, define the expected standards of clothing, timekeeping, social conduct, and work ethic. The term discipline is also applied to the punishment that is the consequence of breaking the rules. The aim of discipline is to set limits restricting certain behaviors or attitudes that are seen as harmful or going against school policies, educational norms, school traditions, et cetera. School discipline refers to the rules and strategies applied in school to manage student behavior and practices used to encourage self discipline.

School discipline addresses schoolwide, classroom, and individual student needs through broad prevention, targeted intervention, and development of self-discipline. Approaches to school discipline range from positive (e.g., schoolwide school climate improvements, use of restorative practices) to punitive (e.g., suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment).  How school discipline is handled has a great impact on the learning environments of schools. Punitive school discipline may not improve student behavior or academic achievement (Bradshaw, 2014). Establishing and maintaining a positive school climate helps to encourage self-discipline and prevent discipline problems. Using positive approaches when discipline issues arise reconnects students to their peers and teachers, improving the school experience for the community.

A cursory look into the school climate factors discussed may reveal that the poor achievement of students in Commerce in Ohafia education zone may be said to be as a result of poor school climate within the education zone. For instance students’ achievements in Commerce have shown that students who registered for WAEC and NECO examination in 2014/2015 in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia State were small in population and more so performed poorly as a result of no interest in the subject (Commerce), (Scope, 2015).  There are 87 secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state. However, the performance of students who registered and sat for Commerce in WAEC and NECO examinations indicate a very poor performance (Scope, 2015). The poor performance may be attributed to poor school climate in the education zone. Considering such apparent anomalies it is therefore, pertinent to investigate the impact of school climate on students’ performance in Commerce in Ohafia education zone of Abia state.

Statement of the Problem

The continued poor achievement and gradual reduction in number of senior secondary school students who register for Commerce in WAEC and NECO yearly in Ohafia education zone of Abia state have been quite discouraging and may be linked to a number of factors. The worst of it is their performance in 2014 WAEC. During the examination, supervisors reported incidences of examination malpractice. This ugly situation could be directly linked to school climate factors. These factors may include engagement (cultural and linguistic competence, relationships in school and participation), safety (emotional safety, physical safety, bullying/cyber bullying, substance abuse and emergency management) and environment (physical environment, academic environment, physical health, mental health and discipline). A lot of these factors are not given attention by the teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders in education. As a result, students lose interest in offering some subjects and consequently fail in those subjects in WAEC and NECO of which Commerce is one of them. The situation has gone worse to the point that parents pull out their wards from the secondary schools in the zone to more urbanized area where the environment of learning is academically promising. This action of the parents created additional problem by reducing the number of students in the zone for other urbanized zone like Umuahia.

A close examination of these climate variables can help teachers and school administrators find ways of improving the achievements of their students.  This is largely because school climate absolutely play significant role in the performance and interest of students.  Enormous instances abound on the areas badly affected with either one or more of the school climate variables under study.  In Isi-uzo and Ishielu local government areas of Enugu and Ebonyi state respectively, secondary schools here are located in rural areas (villages). The peculiar problem in these areas is refusal of teachers to accept their postings in those villages because of rural-urban migration, poor teaching facilities, lack of health facilities, substance use and lack of emergency management. The number of schools offering Commerce in the both local governments is insignificant. This is because of the above problems. Conversely, in the area of study where the settlement can be addressed as a mix of urban and rural settlement. The problem peculiar to this zone is physical safety, emotional safety, bullying, relationships, administrative squabbles and recruitment of unqualified teachers by the proprietors of secondary schools within the education zone. These factors may be said to be the cause of the mass failures and continuous decline in the number of students that register and sit for Commerce in WAEC and NECO exams yearly. Therefore, the above problem observed informed the essence of the research study.

Purpose of the Study

          The main purpose of this study was to ascertain the impact of school climate on students’ achievement in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia State. The study specifically sought to determine:

  1. the impact of engagement (connectedness to studies) on the performance of students in Commerce.
  2. the impact of safety on the performance of students in Commerce.
  3. the impact of environment on students’ performance in Commerce

Significance of the Study

          This study would be of great significance to many participants in education which includes proprietors, school administrators, teachers, education authorities/policy makers, educational institutions, community, students and researchers.

The proprietors will benefit from the findings of this work as it will assist them in recruitment of qualified Commerce teachers to teach Commerce. Since this work will reveal the qualities of a qualified Commerce teacher, it will prepare their minds to look out for those qualities in order to engage the most qualified teacher in teaching the subject (Commerce).

School administrators will benefit from this work as it will guide them to provide the needed instructional materials for their schools for better academic delivery. This work will also afford them the opportunity to learn how to create good rapport and relate cordially among the school staff and the teachers in particular.

Teachers will benefit from this study as it will help them update their qualification through further studies and continuous training. According to Obi in Ashiwobel (2010) “Adequate training cannot take place without competent teachers to handle the programme”. This implies that qualified teachers should be engaged to train others, by that underscoring the importance of continuous training of teachers. This study will help the teacher to achieve competence in using appropriate instructional method and instructional material in delivering lessons in Commerce

Education authorities/policy makers will benefit from the findings of the study as it will create in them the consciousness to monitor the activities of schools and principal to ensure an effective academic delivery process. Policy makers and education authorities make certain decision concerning education as to what is to be done and how it should be achieved on the nation’s philosophy of education. Therefore the success of achievement will be beneficial to them and to the nation as a whole.

Education institutions will benefit as copy of the work will be a material for school libraries where references could be made to it. The knowledge will be used to improve the general school climate not only in Commerce but in every other aspect of knowledge to bring about better students performance. Since educational institutions are responsible for educating the child they need to know the appropriate learning conditions needed for effective teaching and learning of educational instruction.

The community will also benefit when the students who are trained in the school which they contributed to its development graduates from the school and returns to the community to make their contribution in developing the community as the society expects many things from the teachers and students.  They further noted that the community expects that teachers teach and relay ideas/information effectively to the students.  When the needed aims, goals and objectives of education are achieved, the community benefits, as this will help to solve societal problems that deter the growth of the society. If the school successfully transfers the societal values, attitudes, beliefs and aptitudes to the students in a proper and deserving school climate (ideal), the society will benefit.

Students will benefit from this work as it will serve as a reference material and guide on how to create and maintain good school climate.

Researchers will benefit from this study as it will assist them in making references for research purpose. It will assist them to have authentic knowledge about what can bring about success of students in a given school environment.  The findings of this work will assist researchers to form a basis for discovering new approaches towards reforming environment of learning. This work offers the researcher the opportunity for discovering the new approaches.

Research Questions

          The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study:

  1. What is the impact of engagement (connectedness to studies) on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state?
  2. What is the impact of safety on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state?
  3. What is the impact of environment on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state?


          The following null hypotheses are formulated for the study and were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. There is no significant difference in the mean rating of teachers in rural schools and teachers in urban schools on the impact of engagement on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state.
  2. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of teachers in the rural area and teachers in the urban area on the impact of safety on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state.
  3. There is no significant difference in the mean rating of teachers in rural schools and teachers in urban schools on the impact of environment on the achievement of students in Commerce in secondary schools in Ohafia education zone of Abia state.

Delimitation of the Study

          This study was delimited to the impact of school climate on student achievement in Commerce in secondary schools in rural and urban areas in Ohafia Education zone of Abia State.  The school climate variables which are engagement, safety and environment were deeply discussed to ascertain the extent they affect the achievement of secondary school students in teaching and learning of Commerce in Ohafia Education zone of Abia State. The opinion of teachers was delimited to ascertain the impact of such variables on students’ achievement in Commerce in Ohafia educational zone of Abia state, meanwhile the third term results of SS2 students on Commerce for 2014/2015 academic within the zone were delimited.






Account Number: 0709546102

Access Bank: Savings
Account Name: Emmanuel Idorenyin Samuel.


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