The study was carried out to investigate The Influence Of School Environment On Students Academic Performance In Public Secondary Schools In Jalingo Local Government Area Of Taraba State. The design of the study is descriptive while the population comprised principals and teachers in the education zone. The sample size for the study was 100 respondents while a researchers’ self-developed checklist formed the instrument for data collection. Instrument was tested to ensure the reliability. Four research questions and three hypotheses guided the study; while chi-square test was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significant. A review of empirical studies was carried out to guide the researcher into previous studies in the area and also to provide the researcher with the theoretical base. A 29-item checklist was used to get information from the respondents. Based on the data collected and analyzed, the following results were obtained that teachers and principals of Public Secondary Schools in Jalingo LGA of TarabaState are knowledgeable about standard requirements learning in terms of physical facilities like offices for teachers, reading rooms for students. However, significantly few respondents agreed that dining hall and examination halls are essential for learning, similarly School libraries where they existed were found to be accessible to student’s homes, even though the standard of such facilities were found to be relatively poor as there was inadequate funding. There are insufficient chairs and desks for students and inadequate power supply and most of the schools have neither science laboratory nor a school nurse to care during emergencies.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Generally, in the whole world, particularly in Nigeria, education has been considered to be the corner stone for development. It forms the basis for literacy, skill acquisition, technological advancement and ability to harness human and material resources towards the achievement of societal goal (FRN, 2004).
The existence of any educational system at whatever level cannot be in isolation of the school facilities. As this had constituted one of the essential variables instrumental to effective teaching and learning processes. Education, whether formal or traditional exists in every society. However, over the years, environment into the secondary education has been on the increase, following series of educational programs being introduced. One of such is the universal basic education (UBE) scheme. Also, successive governments have and are still allocating an appreciable percentage of their annual budget to the provision and maintenance of school facilities meant to improve the sector but most often time this funds have either been mismanaged or not managed at all, living most of this secondary schools below standards.
The need for quality school facilities cannot be over emphasized, this subject had received great attention from the public as well as educators in recent times. According to building educational success Together (Best, 2005), it was reported that the responsibility of every administrator is to ensure that every child had access to quality education in school facilities that provide an educational setting that was suited for training and learning. Also, implementing educational polices that resulted in high quality, high-performing, well-designed and maintained school facilities had a direct and indirect influence on the teaching and learning process (Best, 2005). Effective facility management therefore contributes to the success of every student in any school environment in a study carried out by Hale (2002) reveled that students in classrooms with large windows, natural lighting and well-designed skylights were found to perform well from 19 to 25% better than their peers in classrooms without these features not only environmental conditions in school affect the students but also the staff as observed by (Hunter, 2006) which include the in operating heating system, inadequate ventilation and poor lighting system. The overall building and the windows in the instrumental areas were positively related to student’s achievement in learning (Bullock, 2007).
School facilities played a significant role in directing the of teaching and that of shaping students’ learning process in and out –of- school. Today most of the school facilities which are supposed to promote an enhanced teaching and learning in secondary education are absolute inform and thereby, creating a serious challenges to the 21st century educational needs of the learners. Others are dilapidated and not suitable to motivate teaching activities in secondary schools. School facilities which are otherwise referred to as school plant are the physical facilities provided for in the schools, such as the school site, the buildings and equipment. Buildings are needed to shelter staff and students, laboratories are needed to generate manipulative skills in students, sports/games facilities are needed to develop the mental, social and physical aspects of the students. A well designed and functional school building with a wide array of teaching aids therefore provides effective delivery of the school curriculum and is positively related to the student’s academic performance drawn from teaching effectiveness. Every detail about the school starting from where the school is located (in a noisy area, at the road side which could be a busy one, in a reserved area), the quality of the building and its age, the structure, size, shape, the class size, number of students it can accommodate, the staff, teaching materials and aids are elements that makes up the school environment. The comfort that is found within the school environment determines at the maximum level how well teaching activities become effective. Most often important aspects of the school environment are been neglected by the school administrators forgetting that the environment where teaching takes place, has a great effect on learners. Learning cannot take place where teaching is not in any way effective. The dictum has been “teaching is inseparable from learning while learning is separable from teaching”. Teachers do the teaching to make the students learn, but students can learn without the teachers, but how can this be effective when the school environment is not conducive enough to accommodate students in their various needs. Looking at the library services, when books are lacking how will both students and teachers carryout their research work or the classroom with limited seats for twice the number of students it was meant for, this will cause discomfort for the students and the teacher. Unfortunately this is the case of most public schools in Taraba state, Jalingo Local Government Area. Be that as it may be, school facilities are sine qua non to academic performance and learning process.
Teaching, therefore, can be thought of as a process that facilitates learning. In this process, the teacher or any other school administrator has an important role to play because he acts like a catalyst, actively stimulating learning. The teaching process is such a task that has proved to be difficult in the light of the present scenario, where learning takes place in an conducive environment. Public schools can be seen as the schools controlled neither by individuals nor by private interest or agencies but by those who represent the society as a whole. In other words public schools are those schools which are supported and controlled by the government of the state or nation. Public education is the government of the state or nation. Public education is the pillar or backbone of society which opens the door of equal educational opportunity to all citizens. It is a public owned property which attracts public attention constantly. Secondary school is the stage of education following primary school. Webster (2009) sees secondary school as a school intermediate between elementary school and college usually offering general techniques, vocational or college-preparatory course, while Collins (2003) refers to it as a school for young people, usually between the ages of eleven and eighteen. Environment can be defined as a system within which living organisms interact with the physical element. Agusiegbe (2004) sees environment as consisting of all elements existing around man and which exerts some influence on him. These include physical, biological and social attributes. In the study, environment includes all the external conditions and influences in the school that affect the teaching activities and students learning such as laboratory equipment, library facilities, qualified teachers, furniture, school building, good administrative management, teacher pupil relationship and school location among others. School environment is a learning place where learns interact with learning facilities in order to be socialized and face the challenges in the society. School environment can also be considered as the second teacher since space has the power to organize and promote pleasant relationships between people of different ages, to provide changes, to promote choices and activities and for its potential for sparking different types of social and affective learning (Okeke, 2001). The environmental differences and the differences in the quality of instruction from one school to another can create differences in the level of knowledge influenced into the students by the teachers.
School environment includes the school building and the surrounding grounds, learning is influenced by the environment people are exposed to and the facilities provided in such environment lead to experience. The physical appearance and general condition of school physical facilities are striking basis upon which many parents and friends of any educational institution make initial judgment about the quality of what goes on in the school. They are often turned off by dilapidated school blocks with sinking roofs and broken walls, bushy lawn and over grown hedges. Also are profane writings on the walls, littered lawns and pathways. Finally, the school physical environment is like a mirror reflecting the image of the school and through it the public decide whether or not to associate with the particular school (Mgbodile 2004).
There is need for a well-planned and organized educational environment because it fosters good interpersonal relationship. Moreover, Ajayi and Ashaolu (2005) opined that environmental enrichment regarding physical facilities is a major factor in students’ academic achievement. Supporting this Ayodele (2005) and Ajayi (2007) have shown that school resources aid students’ academic achievement. Poor performance may be attributed to poor learning environment especially in the following areas, school building, library services, and school location and school facilities. School building: these are tangible structures which serve as shelter for educational activities. They include among others classroom, laboratories, workshops, and teachers common-room/offices, reading rooms, etc. despite the evidence that the quality of school building affect students learning and teaching activities, most public schools in Jos Jalingo Local Government Area are in poor physical condition. (Mgbodile 2004) has pointed out that for effective teaching and learning situation, school building and educational goals should be viewed being interwoven. Apart from protecting the pupils from the sun, rain, heat and cold, school building represent learning environment which has great influence on the comfort, safety and activities in teaching. Library services. The school library is a room or building in a school where books, magazines, journals, periodicals, cassettes, computers among others are kept for students and teachers use. Dike (2001) sees school library as a learning laboratory, interact directly with resources, acquire information and develop research skills for lifelong learning. The objective of the school library is to serve the schools needs and to make possible the purpose and method of education which the school undertakes. This purpose can only be achieved when the school has a library in the first place but most secondary schools in Jalingo LGA do not have equipped libraries of no libraries at all.
From the fore going one can see that school environment plays a crucial role in teaching activities. The problem of effective teaching and learning is more pronounced in ill-equipped schools hence it becomes necessary to find out the influence of school environment on teaching activities in secondary schools..