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The Definition of Mother Tongue Plus the World's Top 20




1.1   Background of the Study

        Mother tongue is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term native language or mother tongue refers to the language of one’s ethnic group rather than one’s first language (Love and Umberto, 2010). Children brought up speaking more than one language can have more than one native language, and be bilingual or multilingual. By contrast, a second language is any language that one speaks other than one’s first language.      

        The Principal (administrator) sees to the effective running of secondary schools in terms of staff and students’ management, development and implementation of educational programmes, management of physical facilities, school community relations, discipline, keeping of school records, management of school finance and creation of convenient environment for effective teaching and learning. It is also generally observed that a lot of public schools have ignored Christian Religious Studies. They believe that only science and technology students are capable of bringing about development in the country. Some students also believe that Christian Religious Studies is not relevant to the present need of the society. That is why moral and religious values decline so fast in public secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area. As a result of such deficiency, lack of respect for elders and cases of students’ riot at an increased level are the possible consequences. Christian Religious Studies is therefore seen as a veritable tool and a suitable vehicle to convey morals and qualities of good cititzenry into the student’s life. Unfavourable attitude of students in Enugu North constitutes a problem which has not only affected the society but also the performance of students in the subject.

        The study has exposed the researcher to observe many students during his teaching practice in some public secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area. He witnessed many senior secondary two students who showed lack of interest in the study of Christian Religious Studies. Those who actually offered the subject refuse to attend regular classes own the recommended textbook and the Holy Bible and exhibited negative tendency in applying the moral principles to their daily living. Some of the students performed so poorly in their internal and external examinations. The basic area of the researcher’s concern which calls for investigation is how Principals’ administrative skills can improve students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Studies in Public Secondary Schools in Enugu North Local Government Area.

        Ross and Gray (2006) found transformative leadership skill to be necessary for school effectiveness. According to the researcher’s, transformative skill is a global skill comprising three skills: the principals being able to identify and sustain a vision of the school which is interpreted as conceptual skills by other researchers; intellectual stimulation of other members of the school which can be done by a person who knows the educational process of a school, using a combination of the technical and interpersonal skills; and individual consideration for others, the interpersonal or human skill. The use of these skills was discovered to enhance school effectiveness by increasing teacher commitment and motivating them to achieve school goals.

        Also in South Carolina, Kochamba and Murray, (2008) in their study on critical administrative skills needed by Principals for the achievement of school effectiveness found technical, human relations, conceptual and transformative leadership skill critical for the achievement of school effectiveness.


        Richter, Lewis and Hagar (2012) found transformational managerial and behaviour management skills to be essential ingredients which Principals need for the achievement of school goals. In a related study on effective schools in developing countries, Hoppey and Mcleskey, (2013) discovered that the principal who had interpersonal skill; viewed his primary role as that of providing support for his teachers so they could put in their very best to teaching in order to achieve the school goals. The study was hinged on the path goal theory of leadership by House, (1971) which postulates that for leaders to be effective, they must have the ability to clarify the path to successful achievement of goals for followers; they must also be able to remove obstacles on the path in order to achieve organizational goals for the followers. The principal must have these necessary skills to know when there are obstacles, what to do and how to do it.

        Mumford, Zaccarro, Harding, Jacobs and Fleishman, (2000) proposed a five component skill based model of effective leadership which had problem solving skills, social judgment skills and Studies skills at the core of its components. Hoy and Miskel, (2000) ascertained technical, interpersonal, conceptual and administrative skills as skills that the principal as the school leader should possess for the success of the school. Peterson and Van Fleet, (2004) suggested ten categories of skills essential for effectiveness. They were technical, analytical, decision making, human, communication, and interpersonal, conceptual, diagnostic, flexible and administrative skills. Mumford, Campion and Morgeson (2007), identified four general categories: cognitive, interpersonal, business and strategic skills. Another set of researchers, Leithwood and Duke, (1999); Murphy and Louis, (1999) and Richter, (2006), were of the opinion that leadership skills are divided into three domains: transformational, managerial and instructional. The various sets of researchers found differing categories of leadership skills which were not all related to be essential for the academic performance of students in public secondary schools.

        According to Pfifner in Njoku (2006), principals as administrators have the duty to organize and direct human and material resources to achieve desired ends. To be a school administrator, one needs the requisite skills. Generally, many studies (Adelabu and Akinwumi, 2008; Arong & Ogbadu, 2010; Duze, 2011; Sofowora, 2011) have been carried out on the failing standard and quality of education in Nigeria but very little research work has been carried out on the skills possessed by the Principals of Nigerian Public Secondary Schools. This study seeks to discover how Principal’s administrative skills affect students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Studies. It is observed in recent times that Principal’s effectiveness in secondary school dwindles. This is deduced from several reports of absenteeism, lateness to school and nonchalant attitude (Akpan, 1995). This is further manifested in students’ poor academic performance in internal and external examinations.

        The attainment of school goals could be possible through a functional communication pattern. Musaazi, (1982) sees communication as a two-way process. Communication is purposive for interpretation of school policies and institutions. Its primary administrative function are informing, instituting or directing someone, evaluating someone or something and influencing another’s thought or behaviour. When the following take place, it is believed that communication is effective. Ineffective communication leads to misinformation which results in misinterpretation and perhaps failure in principal’s effectiveness and realization of school goals. Akpan, (1995) reported that a functional communication pattern provides information in the school administration between the principal (administrator), teachers and students concerning all aspects of the school, involving problem solving, decision making and conflict management among other things in the school.

        Principal’s administrative skills are crucial in ensuring academic performance of students in Christian Religious Studies. The poor academic performance of Enugu State Secondary School Students in external examinations casts doubts on the possession of Administrative skills by their Principals. The study formulated research questions and research hypotheses in order to understand the significant difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Studies based on communication pattern, interpersonal relationship, supervision standard of school principal.

Academic performance of a school is the extent to which set goals or objectives of a school programme are accomplished. A school would be regarded as effective if school processes result in observable positive outcomes among its students consistently over a period of time” (1yer, 2011, p.4). The parameters for measuring the effectiveness of a secondary school include the level of discipline tone of the school, school climate, teachers’ performance and the number of students who successfully pass their school leaving certificate examinations. (Purkey and Smith, 1983; Hargreaves, 1995; Uline, Miller & Tschannen – Moran, 1998; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli & Pickeral, 2009).

        Supervision standards of the principal matters as well. According to Penninah, (2012) in his research, sees supervision of instruction as instructional behaviour system formally provided by the organization for the purpose of interaction with the teaching behaviour system in such a way to maintain change and improve the provision and actualization of learning opportunity for students. Lack of supervision may bring down the effectiveness and academic performance of students. Ntukidem and Etudor, enjoined that the success or failure of any school depends largely on teachers who are actors playing major roles in the classroom, in the school and in the society. Evidences supporting this observation include: Johnson, who found out that ‘‘adolescents have a significantly less favorable performance level to Religious study than younger children’’. Also Rickmonds, in his article maturity of religious performance between ages 13-16 claimed that “studies of adolescents consider religion as irrelevant to the needs of modern man.’’ This is also reflected in their choice of school subjects. Ndem, Udo and Joseph, commented on the three domains of learning which is very important in all learning situation which should be consciously planned for, as measurement and evaluation depend to a great extent in the educational objectives on the three domains, categories or taxanomy of educational objectives. These learning domains are known as cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning (Penninah, 2012).

        A public school administrator has some basic skills when applied in the school system would improve the performance of students in Christian Religious Studies. Katz, (1955) the first researcher to propose the skill approach to leadership discovered that effective leadership depends on three basic skills namely: technical, human and conceptual skills. In his suggestion, the three basic skills are essential to the successful administration of the school. It is also the principal’s duty to ensure that functional strategies and ways of promoting school community relations are put in place to provide an opportunity for communication between the school and the members of the community. Musaazi, (1982) asserts that the school can be viewed from two angles. It is a model of the community, and it is also the community’s school. From both angles, the school has broader functions that bring into close connections. The school definitely needs to be in close relationship with the community because of the moral, financial and material support, which the community gives to the school. Thus the community’s participation in school affairs makes the line between school and community more meaningful, therefore the school and the community regard each other as partners.

From the above deductions, therefore this study aimed at examining the principal’s Administrative skills in public secondary schools and students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Studies.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

        It has been observed that public secondary school students’ performance in Christian Religious Studies in Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State has been below average.

        West African Examination Council’s report of 2010 recorded the worst result. According to the online information retrieved “62,295 out of 310,077 managed to obtained credits in English and Mathematics. A total of 247,782 candidates representing 79.6% flanked the examination; as a result they failed to meet the minimum entry requirement into the Nigeria universities. This fluctuation has occurred for a period of three years interval.’’

Recent research (United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2000), Awwalu & Yusuf, (2012) on secondary education in Nigeria has shown that there is an enduring deterioration in the quality and efficiency of secondary school education delivery in Nigeria. May/June West African Examination Council (WAEC) results for the whole country showed that 30.99% out of 1,540,250 and 38.8% of 1,695,878 candidates that wrote the examination in 2011/2012 school year obtained five credit grades including English and Mathematics (Uwadiae 2011; Uwadiae, 2012). As a result of such poor performance of secondary school students in external examinations, principals were indicted by the Minister of Education (Oyebade, 2010). Some state governments even went as far as querying the principals in their states over the poor examination results returned by their schools (Oyebade, 2010). This allegation by public school principals might have been spurred by research evidence shown by Principal’s Administrative Skills to be the peak in its impact on Students’ Academic Performance.

        It is therefore the application of these administrative skills with quality measurement, supervision and rules standard, the balance of communication pattern, interpersonal relationship and supervision standard that would help to determine the academic performance of students in Christian Religious Studies.

        The researcher also in his visit to public schools in Enugu North to see how Christian Religious Studies is ranked discovered that the subject is ranked usually at the bottom. Those who offer the subject have been regarded as children of the clergy. As the researcher observed most of the students from S S1 to S S3, they exhibited lack of interest towards the subject. The researcher during his twelve weeks teaching practice experienced that some students who reluctantly offer the subject refused to own the basic textbook/notebook and the Holy Bible. Others do sneak out of the class in the pretext of having other engagements. These culminated to their poor performance in the promotions and certificate examinations. Hence this study calls for investigation on how principals’ administrative skills can improve students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Studies in Public Secondary Schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.

1.3   Purpose of the Study

        The main purpose of the study was to examine the effects of mother tongue interference in the study of Christian Religious Studies in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State. Specifically, the study sought to:

1.     To find out the level at which mother tongue can interfere in   the learning of Christian Religious Studies in secondary school.

2.     To investigate the qualifications of Christian Religious Studies in       secondary school in Enugu North.

3.     To know how teachers makes use of correct methods in         teaching of Christian Religious Studies in secondary school in   Enugu North.

1.5   Research Questions

1.     Does mother tongue actually interferes in the learning of        Christian Religious Studies in secondary school?

2.     Are the Christian Religious Studies teacher in schools qualified?

3.     Does Christian Religious Studies teachers adopt correct teaching methods in teaching?


1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are generated from research questions:

H0: Mother tongue does not interferes in the learning of Christian Religious Studies in secondary school

H1: Mother tongue actually interferes in the learning of Christian Religious Studies in secondary school.

H0: Christian Religious Studies teachers do not adopt correct teaching methods in teaching Christian Religious Studies in secondary school

H2: Christian Religious Studies teachers do not adopt correct teaching methods in teaching Christian Religious Studies in secondary school

1.6 Significance of the Study

          The findings of this study therefore would be of benefits to the following people;

          To all learning institutions and future researchers in the field of the Christian religious studies.

          Christian religious studies teachers most especially on the aspects of mother tongue militating against good performance of their students would be made known. The knowledge will enable them plan better strategies for handling the subject matter.

          Principals of secondary schools; this is because the findings would lead them to know whether they need more qualified teachers for effective teaching and learning of the subject in their schools for better performance.

          Ministry of Education in the state as it would become aware of the needs of the schools in terms of teachers, facilities and equipment.

1.7     Scope of the Study

This study is concern the effect of mother tongue interference in the study of English language in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.


There is no study undertaken by a researcher that is perfect. The imperfection of any research is always due to some factors negatively affecting a researcher in the course of carrying out research.  Therefore, time constraint has shown no mercy to the research. The limited time has to be shared among many alternative uses, which includes reading, attending lectures and writing of this research, also distance and its attendant costs of travelling to obtain information which may enhance the writing of this study was a major limitation.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Mothers Tongue: A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth.

Interference: the act or action of interfering or the process of being interfered with.

Teachers: A teacher (also called a schoolteacher or formally, an educator) is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task).

Students: A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving employment at desired field (Oxford Dictionary, 2020).

Christian Religious Studies: Christian Religious education is the study of God’s revelation to human beings through scriptures, the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (The study of the Trinity).