THE CORRELATION BETWEEN SOME INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS AND STUDENTS’ ATTRITION RATES IN SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
It is no longer in doubt that education is a catalyst for national development. This probably accounts for the kind of attention and huge investments that most countries who desire technological advancement give to it. Nigeria as a developing Country is not left out of this race. As a country, she has experimented with several systems of education in her bid to find the system that suits her best. From the Universal Primary Education (UPE), to Nomadic Education, and presently, the Universal Basic Education (UBE), have all been attempts by the different Nigerian governments to provide functional and qualitative education for its teeming population irrespective of age, size, religion location or occupation in order to speed the process of her development.
The Nigerian Government has tried to give high priority attention to the provision of education to its citizens especially in the first two levels (primary and secondary) of education as reflected in the launched Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme in May, 2000. It has also increased its investments in the sector and has encouraged private participation in the provision of education at all levels. However, despite these attempts, it has been observed that Nigerian educational institutions still experience major problems of retaining students within the system, particularly at the primary and secondary school levels as children drop out of school at will without enjoying the benefits of these huge investments. Nakpodia (2010) attests to this when he noted that recently, secondary school students are observed to be leaving school at will to engage in diverse socio – economic activities.
It will therefore not be an understatement to say that since the introduction of western education in Nigeria in the mid-19th century till date, the issue of students’ attrition in schools has been a very serious problem to researchers, parents and educational planners.
Though, there has been no uniform approach to defining what attrition is, most definitions view attrition as a situation where students on regular school terms withdraw or drop out from school for any other reason other than death or transfer to other schools before graduation or completion of a programme of study. The summary of some of these views seem to point to the fact that drop outs are considered as under achievers, not working up to their abilities, they are dis satisfied with school, hostile, aggressive, rebellious and are socially rejected by most of the other students because they are often considered a problem to the society. Equally too, earlier researches in the 1970s and the 1980s tended to portray attrition as being a result of the students’ inability to adapt to the school environment. Recently however, commentators now tend to agree that individual attrition, whether voluntary or involuntary is rarely the result of one single factor but rather, a combination of many factors (Yorke, 1999; Braxton, 2000).
Pascrell, Smart, and Ethiton (1993) who studied the degree of school persistence of 825 students from 85 different colleges over a nine year period agreed from these studies that, academic and social integration were found to be significant predictors of persistence for males and females alike.
To Phillip, (1 996), Attrition or the incidence of dropout was most likely to be caused by alienation of a learner in the classroom. . To him, a student who does not accept personal responsibility for his achievement status is the educational equivalent of the society’s alienated man, he is of the opinion however that in such a case, the reason for this alienation could be traced to either the personal history of the learner, his present reality or his home conditions.
In Nigeria also, several studies have been carried out on the subject. From some of these studies, (Okeke, 1990, Ekperigin, 1990, Nakpodia, 2010), varied factors were identified as possible reasons that can either directly or indirectly cause attrition ; These factors ranged from institutional factors like leadership style, the non-availability of facilities within a school or other variables like illnesses, poor academic performance, and dismissal from school or even the parent’s inability to finance the education of their children or some other personal circumstances.
The fact however remains that students’ attrition in schools, for whatever reasons still represent a form of wastage within the educational system. This is because of the great financial losses, greater utilization of facilities as well as lower graduation rates that it usually involves. First, the repeaters will spend additional time than the specified number of years required in the school and they would therefore have to be “reprocessed’ within the system thereby incurring additional expenses and secondly, excessive dropout rate at any level of education would most likely cripple the system and can even bring about the virtual halt to the educational system.
To Odekunle (2007), wastage in the educational system is seen as the inefficient utilization of educational resources both human and materials which can manifest in the form of drop outs, repeaters, premature withdrawals, unemployed school leavers or even brain drain. In his words; ‘Repetition and drop out are major sources of wastage in any educational system (and) excessive repetition causes congestion at any level and grade in the system of education’.
This fact is also, attested to by Nwadiani (1988), who, writing on the adverse effects of dropout on the Universal Primary Education in Nigeria, stated that:“…dropout will kill the scheme. Millions of naira will go down the drain when a teacher who is supposed to be teaching 30 pupils teaches only 10, when books bought for a class of 30 is locked up in a cupboard”.
To some other commentators, student’s attrition could also be attributed to the socio economic background of the students. It is believed that children from poor backgrounds tend to exhibit high dropout tendencies as against those from higher socio economic ones. Even when intelligence is taken into account, it is noticeable that college persistence is more likely to come from children whose parents are more educated. Closely related to this, is the interest and expectation of parents to the education of their wards. Available records tend to show that college per sisters were from families where parents were more open, democratic, and supportive and had less conflicting relationships with their children. This meant that the children get more parental advice, praise and the parents expressed interest in the college experiences of the children and also had greater expectations for their wards. This seems to point to the fact that parental level of expectation may have as much influence upon the child as much as the child’s own expectation for himself.
However, much as the family influence is in determining the child’s educational performance at school, there have also been indications that the child’s ability is also crucial. Ability and the role of intellectual development is a vital factor where dropout is concerned. A child whose intellectual development or intelligence quotient (IQ) is low will always find school very boring due to difficulty in assimilating learning experiences, this can lead to his gradual withdrawal from school. This is particularly important as recently a lot of students are entering colleges with substantially higher levels of academic disenchantment, they are frequently reported as ‘feeling bored’ in class, missing classes and spending less time on their studies outside of class. The imperative of this is that admitting students with this kind of lower level of academic motivation and a history of reported academic boredom, then submerging them in large classes which seem to be the bane of most of our educational settings would seem to be just the right formula for promoting their passivity and consequently lack of interest in school with eventual withdrawal from school as the ultimate end.
High attrition rates in schools should therefore be considered a serious problem worthy of attention because, if this is not controlled, there is a tendency that the aims and objectives of education will be thwarted.
This research is therefore initiated to examine three institutional factors i.e. the quality of teachers, class size and the availability and quality of instructional facilities to facilitate the teaching and learning experiences in schools; to explore the relationship of these to the high attrition rates prevalent in the educational system in Surulere Local Government area of Lagos State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Government is reported daily to spend mind boggling sums of money each year on the education of its youths most especially on the Universal Basic Education scheme which is envisaged to be the foundation of any lifelong learning experience. However, in recent times, there appears to be a seeming expression of grave concern by the public and even educational planners on the alarming rate in which students drop out from school especially at the secondary school level without benefiting from these huge investments. What this implies is that if students do not remain in the school to enjoy the benefits of these huge investments by Government, then both capital investments as well as the human resources (students who should benefit from it) are wasted.
Though it is not easy to determine with utmost certainty the number of students that drop out of our schools because of the lack of a uniform approach to counting the number of dropouts in the system, it is estimated that in Nigeria, a sizeable number of students dropout from school daily and that the bulk of those who drop out are usually between the ages of 15 and 21 and are mostly from secondary schools. These postulations have very far reaching implications especially when one considers the assumptions that delinquency rate is ten times higher among dropouts and that they are more likely to become burdens on the society . Today, most dropouts are unemployed, and they have lesser chances of securing jobs than those who graduated, because of this, they tend to be involved more in criminal and dubious activities thereby becoming not only a great threat to themselves but also to their parents and the society.
Though the National Policy for Education had proposed the provision of vocational, adult and distance education as a means to curbing this, the problem seems to persist. It is thus this situation that t has motivated an investigation into the causes of the rate of attrition in schools within Surulere Local Government area of Lagos state. The study is therefore an attempt to explore the correlation between three institutional factors – the quality of teachers, class size and the availability of instructional facilities and the rate of students’ attrition in schools within the Local Government.
1. 3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine students’ attrition rates in secondary schools within Surulere Local Government area of Lagos State. In particular, the study will examine three institutional factors –
1. The quality of teachers in the schools
2. Availability and quality of instructional facilities in these schools, as well as the;
3. Class sizes in these schools
Attempts will be made to determine whether there exist a correlation between these factors and the attrition rate prevalent in schools within the Local Government area.
1.4 Research Questions
To achieve the stated purpose, this study will be guided by the following research questions which will be answered during the course of the study:
What are the qualities of teachers found in the various schools within the local government area?
What is the relationship between these qualities of the teachers and students’ level of attrition?
What is the perception of roles by both the teachers and the students? And does this have any bearing with students’ attrition rates?
Does the availability of instructional facilities in these schools have any bearing on students’ attrition rates?
Does class size whether large or small have any relationship with student‘s attrition rates in the schools?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
To determine the extent to which these institutional factors correlate with students’ attrition rates, the following hypotheses were formulated to be tested during the course of the study:
There exist no significant relationship between the quality of teachers and students’ attrition rate.
Class size has no significant relationship with student’s attrition rates.
The availability of instructional facilities in these schools has no significant relationship with student’s attritions.
This research is carried out based on the following assumptions:
1. That the incidence of students’ attrition cuts across all local Government areas of Lagos State – Surulere especially
2. That high attrition level if it exists in schools is not in the interest of all stake holders in the educational sector and the country at large
3. That student in most secondary schools in Nigeria and Surulere local Government area in particular, operate within similar administrative and institutional environments and these environments can either have positive or negative influence on their retention in schools.
1.7. Significance of the Study
This study is significant for the following reasons:
1. The findings of this study would be very beneficial to educational planners and administrators as it will assist them in mapping out policies for students’ retention in schools, develop academic as well as social programmes, and review curriculum that will meet the diverse needs of the students.
2. The study will also assist teachers by raising their awareness on the various needs of the students under their care.
3. Through this study, parents would be equally sensitized on the various ways and methods of dealing with their children and wards and the need to provide good and basic necessities capable of reducing drop out rates in schools.
4. The findings of this study will also be a build up on the body of knowledge and past studies that have been conducted on similar issues. It will therefore be a good reference material for scholars.
5. Findings from this work will also provide an additional empirical evidence to enable administrators draw workable conclusions about specific characteristics that are usually linked with teachers’performance. This knowledge should assist them on the best way to distribute teachers across schools and classrooms. This, in the long run should have implication for efficiency and guide efforts towards future teachers’ policy.
1.8.Limitation of Study
This researcher makes bold to accept that there could be a possibility of other surprising variables that could be unearthed in the process of this research which is likely to influence the findings of this study. What is however important and pertinent to mention here is that this study is already Ex post -facto in outlook with all the independent variables already identified. The possibility of their being totally controlled by the researcher in this study may however not be possible.
Furthermore, there is the dearth of statistical data. Ultimately, what this implies is that there may be limited materials to do a comparative analysis of attrition rates with other Local Government areas.
1.9.Operational Definition of Terms
1. Attrition Rates: Attrition rates would refer to the number of students who leave the school without the completion of a programme for one reason or the other. This is usually manifested in high drop out rates, repeaters as well as any type of premature withdrawal from a school programme.
2. Repeaters: This refers to those who are held back for the non – completion of an educational course, or a class, usually a course that has been previously failed. Usually, repeaters would have to be reprocessed within the school system once more.
3. Drop Out: This is a term used to refer to some one whom on account of one reason or the other is unable to complete an educational programme and who has to withdraw from the system.
4. Institutional factors: In the context of this study, would refer to factors or variables within a school that are likely to encourage repetition, drop out or high attrition level among students. For example, the class size, administrative style, types and quality of teachers, as well as the types of instructional facilities. Usually, institutional factors are variables within the control of the school or institutions