Factors That Contribute To Poor Academic Performance Of Pupils In Primary Schools

A Survey Of Factors That Contribute To Poor Academic Performance Of Pupils In Primary Schools In  Enugu South Local Government Area Of Enugu State



Background of the Study

The content of Nigerian education must reflect the past, present and future of the dynamic Nigerian society in terms of the role the individual is expected to play in the present modernization process. That is primary education system and method should be more suitable for use at this present time.




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Primary education is the education given in an institution for children between the ages of 6 and 11 years plus. Since other levels of educational activities are based upon it, primary education, therefore, is the key to the success or failure of the whole education system. Primary education is the key because it is the foundational and a starting point for other educational programmes.

The poor academic performance of pupils in primary schools in Enugu South Local Government has been a concern over the past few years. The schools have shown poor performance in all public examinations and as one director Udeh said in the year 2000, their First School Leaving Certificate results have been appalling. The schools in the area have been performing poorly in the Common Entrance Examination administered by the Ministry of Education. The schools have also consistently performed poorly in the primary schools mock examinations.

The situation as described above is a great problem since the Nigeria government has initiated programme such as the free, compulsory Universal Basic Education. Schools organizes school Based    Management Committee (SBMC) with a view to improving the quality of the educational system. Through these, the Nigeria government seeks to ensure that all citizens are equipped with the fundamental knowledge and skills that will enable them to be full stakeholders in and beneficiaries of the national development. Since the end of the civil war in 1970, academic excellence has been on the decline. This appears to be more pronounced in primary schools because the pupils at primary schools age have fragile body and mind. According to Ehusani (1993),

“Ignorance imprisons men and women

in a web of superstition, fear and error”.

The ignorant person can only be liberated through education and this assertion is supported by Whitehead (1993). He sees education as the acquisition of the art of utilization of knowledge. The poor performance of primary school pupils also requires the utilization of acquired knowledge and skills.

According to Dave et al (1986:63)), “Illiteracy is a serious impediment to the individual’s growth and the country’s socio-economic progress”. This statement is true of any country or state whose illiteracy level remains high. When the level of illiteracy is high in any society, such a society will remain backward.

Several factors have generally been identified as causes of poor academic performance. Asyeman (1999) reported that:

A teacher who does not have both the

academic and professional teacher

qualification would undoubtedly have

a negative influence on the teaching and

learning of his subject.

However, he further started that a teacher who is academically and professionally qualified but works under unfavourable conditions of service would be less dedicated to his work and thus be less productive than a teacher who is unqualified but  works under favourable conditions of service. Neagley and Evans (2000) were of the view that effective supervision of instruction can improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. Etsey, Amedahe and Edjah (2004) in a study of sixty schools from per-urban and rural area in Ghana, found that academic performance was better in private schools than in public schools because of more effective supervision of work.

Another factor is motivation. A highly motivated person puts maximum effort into his job. Several factors produce motivation and job satisfaction. Young (2002) examined the job satisfaction of Californian public school teachers in the United State of America (USA) and found that one of the overall job predicators was the salary one earned. Studies by Locksheed et al (2001) indicate that lack of motivation and professional commitment produce poor attendance and unprofessional attitudes towards  students which is turn affect the performance of students academically.

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The availability and use of teaching and learning materials influence the effectiveness of a teacher’s lessons. According to Broom (2002), the creative use of a variety of media increases the probability  that the student would learn more,  retain better what they learn and improve their performance on the skills that they are expected to develop. Ausubel (2003) also stated that:

Young children are capable of understanding

abstract if they are provided with sufficient

materials and concrete experiences

along with the phenomenon that they are to


Butter (2003) has also found homework to be a correlate of academic performance. He stated that homework has a positive relationship with learning outcomes when it is relevant to learning objectives, assigned regularly in reasonable amounts, well explained,  motivational and collected and reviewed during class time and used as  an occasion for feedback to students. Churchill (2004) found a positive relationship between the location of a school and the student and teacher performance.

The presence of all or some of the factors identified above may have resulted in the poor academic performance of pupils in primary schools in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Statement of the Problem

Information available from the Enugu State Ministry of Education indicates that there has been a steady decline in the performance of pupils in the First School Leaving Certificate Examination. Data available indicates that the cut-off mark from entry into secondary schools has been lowered to enable children gain admission into the state secondary schools. The data shows that from 2000 to 2005, distinctions in the Fist School Leaving Certificate Examination have been relatively scarce. This being the case, this problem of the study is stated as follows, what are those factors that hinder academic performance of pupils in    primary schools in Enugu-South local Government Are of Enugu State?

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of the study was:

  1. To find out the school environment factors that contributes to poor academic performance of the pupils.
  2. To find out teacher-related factors that contribute to the low academic performance of the pupils.
  3. To find out if the pupils characteristics are responsible for their poor academic performance.
  4. To find out if forms of parental support cause pupils to perform poorly academically.
  5. To find out if there is possible strategies for improving the academic performance of primary school pupils.

Significance of the Study

This study will be of great help to policy makers in Nigeria educational system, most especially in the area of planning and optimum utilization of human and material resources. It will also be of help to all the primary school teachers in Enugu South Local Government Area in redressing their attitude in the classroom.

The findings of this study will help in no small measure in identifying the factors that are responsible for the poor academic performance. Through this study, various stakeholders such as the primary  school teachers, parents, government and other researchers will be able to better understand their roles that  will help to reduce poor academic performance.

Scope of the Study

This study is a survey of factors that contribute to poor academic performance of pupils in primary schools in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Research Questions

This study is guided by the following research questions.

  1. To what extent are the school environment factors contributing to the poor academic performance of pupils?
  2. To what extent do teacher factors contribute to poor academic performance of pupils?
  3. To what extent are pupils characteristics are contributing to their poor academic performance?
  4. To what extent do parental support variable contribute to academic performance of the pupils?
  5. What are the possible strategies for improving the academic performance of primary school pupils?

Definition of Terms

  1. EDUCATION: This is a process of equipping an individual be he young or adult, worthwhile values that will help him to function well in the society.
  2. PERFORMANCE: It is the accomplishment of a given task measured against a present, known standards of accuracy, completeness.
  3. PRIMARY EDUCATION: This is the education given in institution for children aged 6 to 11 years plus.
  4. SUPERVISION OF INSTRUCTION: This is a process of external inspection one or more local citizen were appointed to inspect both what the teachers were teaching and what the student were learning.
  5. SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE (SBMC): They are up-graded Parents and Teachers Association (P.T.A). They attempt to give school constituents administrators, teachers, parents and
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other community members-more control over what happens in primary schools.

  1. PER-URBAN: the activities occurring near the city limits, in the areas that are usually called urban fringe.

                                                      CHAPTER TWO


This chapter examines the factors that contribute to poor academic performance of pupils in primary schools. Under the following sub-heading:

  1. The problems of the poor academic performance of pupils.
  2. Teachers’ contribution to poor academic performance of primary schools pupils.
  3. Parental contribution to poor academic performance of primary school pupils.
  4. Environmental influence as a contributing factor to poor academic performance of primary school pupils.

The Problem of Poor Academic Performance of Pupils

As stated by Maduibian (2001), a teacher’s effectiveness in his subject is a prime determinant of pupils performance in their academics. Ineffective teaching and learning in the school system derive from the quality of teachers recruited to teach. Fafunwa (2001) cautioned that an untrained swimmer will be held down under the water by the very man he tried to rescue and both lives will perish. Teachers need to be professionally qualified to enable them work effectively with pupils in stimulating and directing their growth in the desired direction. He further stated that mastery of subject matter alone does not qualify one as an effective teacher. This is as a result of acquiring knowledge and passing the knowledge to another person.

It is therefore, appropriate training in the content  and methodology of teaching that will guarantee effective  transmission of acquired knowledge.

Bello (2003) has this to say: “Teacher’s lack of concern for pupils learning difficulties may encourage pupils indifference to learn, hence their poor achievement”. Teachers should be able to motivate pupils through their understanding and assistance. White (2001) clearly stated that:

In the condition of modern life, the rule is

absolute, a race which does not value

trained intelligence is doomed and  there

will be no appeal from judgment which

will be pronounced on the uneducated. If a

school does not function properly and

continues producing poor pupils, the pupils as

well as any body connected with their

education suffer as well.

Therefore, poor performance of primary schools pupils is like a communicable disease because it affects the school, the teachers, the child, the parents and even the society at large where the poor academic performance of pupils is perpetuated. The problems will continue to exist in the affected schools unless the root of such academic performance is properly identified and managed.

Teachers’ Contribution to Poor Academic Performance of Primary School Pupils.

Ude (2003) said that:

Teachers have the greater share in the

poor academic performance of the child.

Experience has shown in the majority of cases

that the poor performance of pupils in

primary schools is high, the unrealistic

and ineffective approach to children’s

academic needs by the teachers placed over

them. A teacher is meant to impact the

knowledge and experience he has acquired

in a particular subject on the pupils. Where

the  teacher is still ill-equipped experience-wise,

he cannot impact the required knowledge

to his pupils.

The poor qualify of teachers emerged by the influx of man and women into the teaching profession who claimed to be teachers under the auxiliary teaching cadre.

Other contribution of the teachers can be viewed from the unprofessional ethics of the teachers where certain teachers spend more time in commercial rather than academic pursuits. The researchers are of the opinion that the unprofessional ethics of some teachers is a factor towards poor performance of the pupils.

The teacher’s teaching method could lead to poor academic performance of pupils. If the teacher does not master the subject matter very well, it must surely affect his pupils performance. Baren (2002) explained it in this manner:

The child assimilates new materials add to

his stock and both the old and new materials

lead to a change in behaviour.

Learning can be more effective, if different method are correctly used. Children can also be made ready to learn by generating interest through motivation. Therefore, for effective teaching and learning, the teacher must learn to apply different methods in different situations, to suit the pupils. For example inductive, activity, story telling methods. However, it is important to note that any teacher who knows only one method of teaching will find it difficult if not impossible to achieve his stated objectives at the end of the lesson period. It would seem that preparation and presentation of lessons and making of notes do not appear to receive the attention they deserve. The enthusiasm  to find the pupils learning problems and improve their performance appears to be limited to a relatively small number of teachers.

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Why is this lack of commitment to teaching a feature of the nation’s school system? The Code of Conduct, Section 5, Sub-Section 1.6 of Nigeria Teachers’ Service Manual (ref) contains all the regulations even know what the code of conduct of the teachers is all about and it would appear that others who know violate the code. For example “Teachers shall keep up-to-date all relevant school records for which they are responsible. These include attendance register, lesson notes and mark books. The documents shall be available in the school for scrutiny at any time”. If teachers in those areas teach effectively, they should be able to keep these records without waiting for the supervisor. All these contribute to poor academic performance in the primary schools in this local government.

Parental Contribution to Poor Academic Performance of Primary School Pupils.

Kanu (2003) addressed:

Parents on their lack of interest in school

activities and stressed that some parent

deprive their children of proper

learning in school by not providing them with

the basic needs required for a smooth

learning process.

Some children actually come to school without writing materials. Experience has shown that the pupils in the Enugu South had all their school basic needs such as school uniform, school beg, exercise books, pencils, ruler and pens provided. It would appear that the lack of basic school needs could not lead to a stable mind and conductive environment for the pupils study. They were not able to concentrate on the classroom learning process and perform creditably. The lack of exercise books and writing materials result in the situation where the pupils could not do any assignment in the class.

Experience has shown that parents sue teachers for flogging their children. Running errands till late in the day could prevent a child from coping with his academic work. This child will always be busy at home and has little or time to look into his academic work.

Good feeding helps a lot because if a child is underfed, he would always feel hungry which could lead to less attention in the class. Under-feeding can also cause physical deficiency in a child. It would appear that the parents rate their business above their children’s welfare at school with regards to academic work, for this fact, children make the advantage of this to develop negative interest to their academic works. Parents like transfer their children from one school to another without knowing the quality of teaching in all schools is not the same.

Parents’ interaction with children’s teachers. Interactions with teachers enable the parents to know what problems their children are encountering in school and what could be done to deal with them. It would also put the

Of Factors That Contribute To Poor Academic Performance Of Pupils In Primary Schools


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