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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Mathematics as a subject affects all aspect of human life at different degrees. The socials, economics, political, geographical, scientific and technological aspects of man is centred on numbers. Disciplines where numbers are predominant and form integral part of Mathematics include: statistics, account, athematic, engineering, etc.

The inter-relationship between Mathematics, development and advancement of humans shows the importance of Mathematics in life due to its numeral and symbolic nature, it is more related to the scientific and technological facets of man’s world than to any other aspect as it occurs and re-occurs in the physical and natural sciences. The basic skills underlying all scientific and technological skills are the control of the tools of Mathematics.

Mathematics is seen as the language used to describe the problems arising in most branches of science and technology. It is a subject that is related to other school subjects in areas like numbers and numeration, variation, graphs, fractions, logarithms and indices, algebraic processes, solution of equation and also in area and volume.

In terms of the influence of home location on the academic performance of students, the researcher was concerned with the socio metric factors such as the kinds of social activities around the home environment of the pupils. For instance, a pupil that lives near the market square will adopt the language of the people around the market. This could affect the child in learning good English at school. Furthermore, pupils from home located in an environment where there is noisy traffic and noisy sound of machine from ply wood industry will be affected negatively in their performance in school because the noisy environment will disturb them from concentrating while reading and studying at home and even in listening to educative radio programmes.

Hence, Ogbemudia and Aiasa (2013) maintained that physical and psychological conditions of the home environment affect the children academically. However, the performance of students in mathematic has been a great concern to the society. Awokoya (1975), Fafunwa (1980), both agreed in different researches that we live in a world where science and technology have become an integral part of the world culture, therefore for any nation to be relevant, it must not overlook the importance of Mathematics in her educational system.

Accordingly, the observed poor performance in Mathematics has been a matter of serious concern to all well-meaning educators. Students’ poor performance in Mathematics over the years has been attributed to the fact that the subject is difficult. In the same view, students’ performance in Mathematics tests has been observed to vary from person to person and from school to school.

This study therefore sought to provide data on the performance of the students in Mathematics tests as it relates school location (Urban to rural).

Statement of Problem

Long ago before the coming of Arabs and Europeans to Africa, people had develop their own systems of educating, although the systems varied from one community to the other, their goals were often strikingly similar. At independence in 1961, education was viewed as the means to eradicating poverty, ignorance and disease from Sierra Leone. Mathematics is seen by society as the foundation of scientific and technological knowledge that is vital in social economic development of the nation. Because of this, Mathematics is a compulsory subject at both primary and secondary levels in Sierra Leone. Mathematics is also used as basic entry requirement into any of the prestigious course such as medicine, architecture and engineering among other degree courses. Despite the importance role that Mathematics plays in society, there has always been poor performance in the subject at public examinations.

Research Questions

  1. Do students in urban areas achieve better or more than students from rural areas?
  2. Do male students in urban schools performance better than students from rural school?
  3. Do female students in urban school performance better than students from rural school?

Research Hypotheses

  1. There is no significant difference between the male score of students in rural area and of those in the urban.
  2. There is no significant difference between the female score of the students in rural area and those in the urban areas

Purpose of the Study

The main aim of this study was to investigate school location as a factor that contribute to students poor performance in Mathematics at the WASSCE in selected secondary schools in Abraka. Specifically, the objectives of the study were to:

  1. Determine the school based/institutional factors that affect students’ performance in Mathematics in secondary schools
  2. Establish students’ personal factors that affect students’ performance in Mathematics in secondary schools
  3. Device strategies that can be adopted to improve performance in Mathematics by students in secondary schools

Significance of the Study

This study sought to identify school location as a factor contributing to students’ poor performance in Mathematics at the WASSCE in Selected Secondary Schools in Abraka. Once a school is labelled by the West African Examination Council as academically unacceptable in terms of performance in WASSCE, the school must begin, almost immediately, seeking answers to why students are not successful at the WASSCE. The immediate goal is to raise exam scores and continuously search for ways to maintain exam scores. If schools can determine what factors may be hindering students achievement, then they can begin creating and implementing intervention measures that will assist in students’ achievement. Considering that most secondary schools in Abraka are currently rated as academically unacceptable, it is reasonable to think these schools could have lower exams scores the next school year falling victim scores to WAEC’s lowest accountability label of academically unacceptable. The findings from this study may provide school authorities in secondary schools in Abraka with significant factors that are impacting students’ poor performance on the Mathematics portion of the WASSCE. Therefore, school authorities may begin implementing educational innovations and intervention to directly address those factors within their own campuses to deter future hindrances.

Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The following limitations were applicable to this study. The findings of the study were limited to Abraka and are only applicable to large secondary schools. The validity and reliability of the data collected from WAEC were dependents on the information given at the WAEC website and regional office in Abraka. Finance was a major challenge in carrying out this study, gathering and compiling the findings.

Definition Explanation of Terms

School: School is a place where children go to be educated. Or a place where people go to learn a particular subject or skill

Factor: One of several things that cause or influence something

Performance: This is the act of presenting a play or a piece of music

Advancement: The process of helping something to make progress or succeed

Mathematics: A science (or group of related sciences) dealing with the logic of quantity and shape and arrangement.

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