IMPLEMENTATION OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL BASIC SCIENCE CURRICULUM IN UMUAHIA NORTH LGA, ABIA STATE

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the Study

Curriculum in fact is an organized plan of course outlined with the objectives and learning experiences to be used for achievement of the objectives of a subject. In a wider perspective, it is a way of preparing individuals to become productive citizens and useful members of the society to which they belong (Obioma, 2012). Olaitan and Ali as cited by Ezemenaka (2010) defined curriculum as all the planned instructional experiences provided by the school in a course of study, so as to assist the students in attaining the desired learning outcomes. Some curriculum experts and educators consider curriculum as all the experiences learners have in a programme of education with the purpose of achieving educational goals and related specific objectives.

In the view of Onwuka (2011) the achievement of the objectives of the curriculum demands proper implementation of the curriculum. This imposes on schools, the task of translating the curriculum document into operating curriculum by the combined efforts of the teachers, students, schools, proprietors and society at large (Mkpa, 2011). The notion of the school curriculum dates back to the pre-1960 colonial era in Nigeria. It was after the 1969, National Curriculum Conference that renewed efforts were made by scientists, educators, curriculum designers, government and parents to fashion out a functional education for developing the human and material resources in Nigeria (Nworgu, 2012). This led to the design of new curricula meant to address several inadequacies inherited from the colonial education era. One of the innovations of the new curricula was the introduction of core curricula.

Core curriculum is the curriculum which includes all the basic contents, skills and knowledge which must be imparted to the learner at some stage of a course of instruction (Ochu, 2011). It serves the needs of students and promotes relationship between life and learning. Curriculum contents that are regarded as core for junior secondary school students are Mathematics, English Language, Basic Science and Social Studies (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2013). It represents what the curriculum planners regard as essential for every child to study in school. Similarly, Akpan (2015) core curriculum prepares the learner for successful and productive life in the wider society. This can only be achieved if the curriculum is well implemented. Thus, the goals of intended curriculum may remain unachieved when the curriculum implementation does not attempt to communicate the essential features of the educational proposals. Curriculum becomes relevant if it addresses current and anticipated needs, problems and aspirations of the learner and the society (Ibe, 2010). In this study, curriculum is all the planned instructional experiences to promote guided inquiry and activity-based teaching and learning in Basic Sciences.

Basic Science was introduced in 2007 following the decision of the Federal Government to introduce the 9-year Basic Education Programme and the need to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.  Agbo (2012) stated that, Basic Science is the bedrock to advance studies in science, technology and engineering. Basic Science has been chosen as one of the core subjects offered at the junior secondary school. It is taught in order to expose students to the basic workings of the scientific enterprise and it also provides the learners with the necessary foundation upon which to build subsequent science learning in the senior secondary school. Basically, core curriculum is intended to provide all students with an education that will serve them well regardless of their choices after leaving school. It reinforces the teaching of basic skills and introduces an expanded range of new knowledge and skills to the curriculum. Rutherford (2011) enunciates four properties that science course content should have: First, it should be significant; second, it should be accurate; third, it should be aligned with desired or declared learning goals and finally, it should be coherent. The science core curriculum places emphasis on understanding and using skills. Hence, the Basic Science curriculum has been designed to build into the present generation, the skills to meet present and future challenges.

Since the only constant thing in science is change, there is need for periodic assessment of the implementation status of the Basic Science curriculum at the national and state levels, to determine the success or otherwise of the implementation.

Implementation is a process of making something work. According to Patrica (2012) implementation is the carrying out, or the practice of a plan for doing something. It is the action that must have preliminary thinking in order for something to happen. Olaitan (2009) described implementation to be a process, technique or means of extending the content of what is planned for the learner. In this study, implementation means the process of carrying out series of planned activities towards achieving the stated objectives of basic technology at secondary school level. In Nigerian Secondary School education system, teachers play major roles in the implementation of subjects such as Basic Science. Also, implementation of the curriculum is made up of elements of planning, delivering, assessment and evaluation that are inter-related and occur as part of an implementation cycle.

There is no doubt that the curriculum is the bedrock of any educational reform of which the Basic Science is not an exception.  But, the achievement of any educational policy depends greatly on its implementation. This is why the process of curriculum making/development is never complete until it gets to implementation (Kolawole, 2016). Therefore, the worth of a curriculum can only be appreciated when it is implemented. Various research evidences have often shown difference among the official or (intended) curriculum, the taught (implemented) curriculum and the assessed (achieved) curriculum. That is in some cases what is carefully documented as a curriculum differs markedly from what actually takes place in the school environment (Kolawole 2011 and Taiwo, 2012)

In assessing the implementation status of the basic science curriculum for the junior secondary schools, it is necessary to reflect on the overall objectives of this curriculum which include:

  1. To develop interest in science and technology
  2. To acquire basic knowledge and skills in science and technology

iii.  To apply their scientific and technological knowledge and skills to meet societal needs

  1. To take advantage of the numerous career opportunities offered by science and technology
  2. To become prepared for further studies in science and technology.
  3. To avoid drug abuse and related vices

vii. To be safety and security conscious Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC. 2012).

Laudable as the philosophy and objectives of the curriculum of basic science are, there is need to identify and strengthen the variables that promote efficient curriculum implementation. Efficient implementation of the curriculum is staged in the classroom and it depends on teacher and students-related variables, environment, academic facilities and instructional materials variables. These comprise the teachers’ understanding, teaching experience and methods as they take at least two double periods of 40 minutes per period per week according to the curriculum specification. Also, the students’ interest in the subject, which significantly influence their overall performances, the school location (rural or urban), available academic facilities and instructional materials that the teachers and students access combine to provide a testing ground for curriculum implementation.

Curriculum implementation, in the words of Gyuse and Samba (2011) can be considered as the process of enacting the planned curriculum. It is the translation of the written curriculum into classroom practices. Curriculum implementation is the stage in which learning activities, teachers and learners are involved in interactions aimed at promoting learning. The teacher adopts the appropriate teaching method and materials to guide students learning. The students on their part are actively involved in the process of interacting with learning activities. Curriculum implementation refers to what actually happens in practice as compared to what was intended to happen as stated in the document. The question that remains unanswered at this point is ‘how has the curriculum implementation fared in the ten years (2007 – 2018) of its existence in Abia state?

Curriculum is a vehicle through which education is attained (Offorma 2015). The secondary school curriculum as presently implemented is far from achieving the goals of secondary educational system (Obanya 2012). Several authors have noted that the National Policy on Education was well structured and the contents were adequately defined but the implementation calls for question (Babafemi 2017; Dike 2012). Investigation gathered shows that students’ potentials are not properly channelled as schools lack basic infrastructural facilities necessary for effective curriculum implementation, there are inadequate specialist teachers, and where available, focus more on theoretical aspect leaving out the practical component. This situation calls for a critical appraisal of the mode of implementation of Nigerian secondary school curriculum in order to identify the root cause of the problem as well as gaps needed for reformation. From the above exposition, it could be observed that various scholars have carried out studies on curriculum implementation. However none of these scholars assessed the implementation of Junior Secondary School Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North, Abia State. Against this background, this study is designed to empirically assess the implementation of Junior Secondary School Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North, Abia State.

  • Statement of the Problem

A curriculum is meant to be implemented to achieve its aims and objectives within a given period of time.  As the implementation process commences, there is need for periodic assessment of the implementation status at the national and state levels to determine the extent of learning that takes place with respect to the knowledge and skills specified in the curriculum which in this case is the Basic Science curriculum. Implementation is assessed through identification of key variables that relate to the operators or parameters that generate relevant data for assessment such as: teacher-related variables, student-related variables, location, facility and environment related variables. A review of literature reveals that there is significant documentation on curriculum definition, design, aim, objectives, purposes and content.

However, literature on the implementation status of the key variables that significantly contribute to acquisition of science knowledge and skills (implementation status) in Basic Science curriculum in Abia State reveal empirically understudied theme, indicating that periodic assessment by the state government and academic researchers is grossly inadequate. Thus, the implementation status of the Basic Science curriculum in Abia State is not clear.

There is an observed disparity in the degree of students’ success in Basic Science at the BECE and that of terminal examinations in the schools. It therefore suggests that there are seeming indices that are not empirically and satisfactorily captured for assessment by the aforementioned investigations. Thus, it is opined that the whole and true picture of the implementation status of the Basic Science curriculum in Abia State is seemingly not empirically assessed to satisfaction, and thus more studies are justified. Moreover, the fact that the implementation status of national curriculum, such as the Basic Science curriculum and may vary from one state to another is another justification.  Therefore to avoid the temptation of just adopting national data, it is imperative to carry out state specific investigations; without which it will be impossible for the State to locate itself in the scheme of science literacy and make improvements where necessary.

This situation has created the need for more effective teaching method that will enable the students acquire the skills that will help them know the areas of strength and weaknesses to be able to perform very well and have more interest in Basic Science. After an extensive review of literature and to the best of the knowledge of the researcher there is no evidence of empirical assessment of the implementation of Junior Secondary School Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North, Abia State, thus creating an information gap which this study is intend to fill.

  • Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of the study was to assess the implementation of Junior Secondary School Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State. Specifically the study seeks to:

  1. Determine the availability of instructional materials for teaching Basic Science in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State.
  2. Assess the extent of utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State.
  3. Identify the methods of teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the available instructional materials for teaching Basic Science in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State?
  2. To what extent do Basic Science teachers utilize the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State?
  3. What methodologies are used in teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State?

1.5 Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses formulated were tested at .05 level of significance:

H01:     There is no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female teachers on the available instructional materials for teaching Basic Science in Umuahia       North, Abia State.

H02:     There is no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female teachers on the extent of utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic      Science curriculum in Umuahia North, Abia State.

H03:     There is no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female teachers on the methods of teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in    Umuahia North, Abia State.

1.6 Significance of the Study

More specifically, the following stakeholders may benefit from the findings of the study in the following ways:

First, the government may benefit from the findings of this study in that it will show what challenges characterize the teaching and learning processes of Basic Science in the state. For example if many practicing teachers of Basic Science are graduates of various science disciplines rather than graduates of Basic Science, the objectives of producing a science-based and consequent science literate citizens at the JSS level will be a mirage. This will then help the government, as a matter of urgency, to focus on training and retraining of Basic Science teachers.

Secondly, the educators: Students are usually at the receiving end of any curriculum, the findings of this study will help the teachers understand what they should improve on to help students develop interest and have better attitude and performance in Basic Science. The findings of this study may also, benefit the educators in that it will inform them  of  the fact that technological breakthrough will remain a wishful dream if the process skills (practical’s) are the least emphasized of the three dimensions of the achievement and address such from the teaching and assessment methods. In addition, the findings will show the assessment practices on ground, whether they accommodate such desirable educational outcome as skill acquisition measurable through practical examination and not multiple choice test which is the most common form of assessment. It will also inform educators of the necessity to use the recommended/suggested strategies in the teaching of Basic Science.

Thirdly, the curriculum planners will be informed of the adequacy or otherwise of the implemented curriculum. If for instance it is found that teachers do not improvise, workshops could be organized for them to train them on improvisation. Findings from the study will also provide information for the curriculum planners as to the constraints to proper implementation of the programme. This may inform their research if need be, to review the Basic Science curriculum with focus on addressing the challenges encountered in the course of implementation.

The findings from the study will also provide the empirical basis for re-examination of the Basic Science programme to ascertain the extent to which the objectives are still valid and adequate for the needs of the students and the nation at large. Information provided by the study would serve as reference material for future researchers on the theme of assessment or implementation of Basic Science curriculum.

1.7 Scope of the Study 

This study was delimited to the assessment of the implementation of Junior Secondary School Basic Science curriculum in Umuahia North, Abia State. The content scopes of the study are to determine the availability of instructional materials for teaching Basic Science, assess the extent of utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum and identify the methods of teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools. The study focused on Basic science teachers as the target respondents because they are the implementers of the curriculum.