An evaluation of the implementation of student personnel services in public, mission and private secondary schools in Cross River State
Background of the Study
Admission of students into secondary school places on the schools the responsibility for providing the students the necessary services that will bring about the actualization of the educational objectives, which the nation has set out to achieve. At the secondary school level, these services are in the academic and non-academic areas. The academic services constitute the curricular programmes, while the non-academic services constitute the student personnel services programme of the school.
Student personnel services in this context, refers to all the non-academic services rendered to the students at the school setting outside the formal classroom instruction, for the purpose of healthy physical, emotional, social and moral development as part of their preparation for a responsible and productive adult life. These services are complementary to the academic programme in making for a holistic and balanced education of the students. While the task of intellectual and skill development can be accomplished through curriculum planning and implementation, the task of developing responsible attitudes and morals can only be achieved through the provision and administration of student personnel services. Although student personnel services has received very little attention in professional literature and school administration, Duffy (1990), Swartz, Russel Hunt and Reilly (2006), observe that it is an administrative task area that is critical to the effective operation of any school system. This assertion is also affirmed by Ndu, Ocho and Okeke (1997) when they stress that in addition to curriculum implementation, school administrators have a duty to provide adequate student personnel services in their respective schools as the both services are complementary to each other.
Some goals of education as spelt out by the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in the National Policy on Education demand services that are beyond classroom instruction for their actualization. An example of such a goal is the inculcation of national values (p.8). The values include respect for the worth and dignity of the individual, faith in man’s ability to make rational decisions, moral and spiritual principle in interpersonal and human relations and promotion of the physical, emotional and psychological development of all children.
It is in realization of the symbiotic role of the curricular and co-curricular services in the realization of educational objectives at the secondary school level, that the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2002) in the National Minimum Standard prescribes mandatory student personnel services that school administration should make available to students in tandem with the curricular offerings. Services that come under student personnel services are many and varied. They include registration and orientation of students, enrolment management, guidance and counselling services and health care services. Others are social and recreational services, disciplinary services municipal services such as potable water, conveniences, catering services and dormitory accommodation. Also included are periodic evaluation of students’ character and learning, participation in school governance, special education services and participation in school clubs and societies. The above identification of the student personnel services are congruent with the views of Ezeocha (1990) and Mgbodile (2003) on what constitutes the services. Ezeocha went on to describe the services to be all the activities and services that are rendered to students for the achievement of the educational objectives which are not the normal classroom instruction. According to Mgbodile (1986) student personnel services refers to all the activities of the principal, teachers and other members geared towards making the pupils better citizens of the society in which they live.
Mgbodile (2003) has identified the objectives of student personnel services to include the making of students think effectively, helping them to communicate their thoughts clearly, enabling the students develop relevant skills in judgement and decision making. Others are to help them play their part as useful members of their homes and families, making the pupils understand basic facts about health and sanitation, helping students to appreciate their roles as citizens of Nigeria and the development of good moral principles as well as the appreciation of their cultural heritage and dignity of labour.
Although, the provision and administration of student personnel services are supposed to rank paripasu with the curricular services (teaching and learning), it appears that the personnel services have been relegated in school administration. Among the reasons adduced by Lindgren (1976) for the apparent relegation of student personnel services in school administration is the fact that the entire school system is examination-centred. Lindgren says that examination results are used to provide answers to some basic questions concerning the goals of education, such as progress in the investment in education and efficiency of school management. In a similar view Adeyemo (1985) states that examination result answers the question of how much the student has learnt, where he or she should be placed and how effective the teacher has been. It also answers the questions of how much of the educational goals have been achieved and how effective the school administration has been performing its role. Certificate examination results at all levels of education are used as basis for graduation of candidates, award of honours, employment in the labour market and for admission into higher levels of educational institutions. It is no wonder then that examination is seen by all concerned as a “do or die” affair.
The premium placed on the implementation of academic curriculum at all levels of education, with emphasis on academic performance as
determined by examination results, explains why majority of school administrators and teachers seem to pay less attention to the provision of student personnel services in their respective schools. It should be noted that students personnel services are basic needs which must be satisfied to a reasonable extent before students can be expected to make any meaningful achievements in their academic pursuit. It is probable from the observation of Ukpabi (1997) in Abia State and Okeke (2002) in Anambra State that student personnel services in secondary schools are not adequately catered for. This phenomenon appears also to be true among secondary schools in Cross River State.
Personal observation from many public, mission and private secondary schools around appears that they lack adequate potable water, health care services, guidance and counselling services and social services. Other apparent lack includes adequate orientation programmes, effective enrolment services, discipline, evaluation, participation in school governance and adequate accommodation and recreational facilities. For the purpose of clarity, “public schools” in this context refers to schools owned and managed by state or federal government, “mission schools” refers to schools owned and managed by religious organizations, while “private schools” refers to schools owned and managed by individuals or groups outside government and religious organizations. Akpa (2005) similarly defines public schools as schools built, controlled and funded by government while private schools are those built, controlled and funded by individuals, organization or communities.
Secondary schools in Cross River State can be categorized into three; these are the public schools, the mission schools and the private school. There are a total of 231 public secondary schools in the state with 5410 teachers as at May 2007. Mission and private schools that are five years old and above and are registered with government are 35 and 61 respectively. While mission secondary schools have teaching staff strength of about 650, private secondary schools have a total of about 888 teaching staff.
On the academic performance side, it has also been observed that secondary schools in the state have of recent, not been doing well in public examinations. Records show that performance in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) for the past five years (2001-2005) has been less than 10 per cent pass of registered students. A recent circular from the Cross River State Ministry of Education (MOE/SID/138,2007) decried the poor performance of secondary school students in SSCE. The circular was addressed to some stakeholders in education, including All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), all zonal directors of education and all the executive secretaries of local government education authorities. Tagged “Implementation of Quality Control in Cross River State Education System”, the circular states inter alia “it is on record that performance of students in WAEC examinations in terms of the number of students who obtained 5 credits and above before the introduction of the quality control measures was less than 6 per cent of the total number of those who registered for the examination in the past years”. This phenomenon of abysmal performance in public examinations accounts for why the state cannot fill her quota in Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) admissions into Federal Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, as well as her inability to compete favourably for federal appointments and other related opportunities.
On her part, the state government has taken some quality control measures aimed at minimizing dwindling performance trend among secondary schools in the state. The measures, which are far-reaching, include, obtaining six credit passes, including English Language and Mathematics by Senior Secondary Two (SSII) students in Mock WAEC examinations conducted by the State Ministry of Education before a candidate is qualified to register for the actual WAEC examination. Senior Secondary school one (SS I) are expexted to obtain an average pass of 55% in six subjects, including English Language and Mathematics before they can be promoted to the next class. Promotion to a new class in the Junior Secondary School is based on 55% average pass in ten subjects, including English Language, Mathematics and Integrated Science. Principals of Secondary Schools must ensure that regular teaching and learning take place in their respective schools and as well report cases of truancy and absenteeism to appropriate authority for sanctioning. Principals are also to ensure that their schools obtain a minimum of 55% pass in WAEC examinations or loose their positions.
Other measures include the introduction of library or reading period on the school timetable, popularization of reading, literary, debating, press and dramatic clubs in schools. Admission of new students without transfer certificates and testimonials has been banned in secondary schools. The state government has assumed the responsibility of paying WAEC examination fees for students of state origin in public secondary schools.
Despite these apparently far reaching palliative measures taken by the state government, statistics from the secondary education board show that enrolment in public secondary schools in particular is on the decline. For example, in August, 2005 enrolment in the 231 public secondary school was 107290 students, but by May 2007 the enrolment has dropped to 97236, showing a decrease of 9.4 per cent.
From the researcher’s observation as a longstanding teacher in the Secondary School, there appears to be a high rate of absenteeism, lateness to school, loitering and apathy among secondary school students in the state. Many students stay away from school for a week or two after resumption on the excuse that no teaching and learning take place during this period. A visit to a school vicinity shows that long after classes are supposed to have started, many students are still seen roaming around the environment as others are still seen coming from their houses. This prevailing situation cast doubts on how efficacious the intervention measures introduced by the government has been in instilling discipline and commitment to learning among secondary school students in Cross River State.
Based on the above, the researcher is often at a loss when attempting to conjecture the factors responsible for obvious lack of interest and commitment to learning among secondary school students in the state. One likely factor that could be responsible for the problem of secondary schools appears to be that the schools have lost their attractiveness to students. It is from this point of view that the study wants to evaluate the extent of implementation of students’ personnel services among secondary schools in the state. This is based on the understanding that students’ personnel services constitute the basic students need upon whose satisfaction one is enabled to pursue “higher order” needs, which in the case of students, are in the realms of academic achievements. The effectiveness of the personnel services will be determined by the extent to which the students are exposed to the component of each cluster of services.
It is in realization of the importance of student personnel services that the Federal Ministry of Education (2002), in the National Minimum Standards for schools, specifies basic personnel services that secondary schools nationwide must conform to before they are allowed to operate. The personnel services specified and made mandatory for secondary schools in the document include:
- Each classroom shall have a minimum size of 144 square metres.
- Assembly/Examination Hall shall be big enough to sit twice the school enrolment
- There shall be adequate boarding accommodation in boarding schools
- There shall also be an equipped clinic or sickbay for boarding schools and first aid box with teacher trained in it for day schools
- There shall be a trained counsellor to attend to students career, emotional and social needs
- There shall be qualified nurse in charge of health clinic for boarding schools and first aid teacher for day schools.
- The document also specifies that schools must have flush or ventilated improved pit toilet (VIP) in the ration of 1:40, separate for boys and girls, play ground to engage ¼ of student population, electricity or generating plant for operating machines and for minimum comfort for both staff and students, and transport
services (bus) for use by staff and students. These are in addition to the detail curricular requirements specified in the document.
Heads and proprietors of schools across the State are aware of this important document. Also the Cross River State Government has guidelines for establishment of educational institutions in the state. The guidelines specify minimum requirements, which all intending secondary schools must comply with before they are allowed to operate or be closed down. The guidelines are not inconsistent with the national minimum standard. Occasionally too, government gives directives to schools aimed at supplementing the provisions of the guidelines for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life and academic excellence in schools. For example, circular (MOE/SID/85 VOL. 1/67 of 29th September, 2005) states “as a follow up to His Excellency’s drive to ensure that the quality of education can only be maintained if the health of our children is adequately taken care of, all secondary school principals are hereby directed to establish sickbays in their schools”.
Despite the acknowledged importance of student personnel services by authors, government and school administrators, it is not certain which of the acknowledged services are provided for secondary schools in the state. Also it is not clear the extent to which the available services are provided among schools, and the problems (if any), confronting their successful implementation.
Arising from these uncertainties, the researcher is motivated to undertake an evaluation of the implementation of student personnel services among secondary schools in Cross River State in terms of the availability of the services and the extent to which the students are exposed to the identified components of the services as contained in the research instruments used for this study. This is done in the hope that the outcome of the study will be beneficial to the secondary education system in the state.
Statement of the Problem
Adequate provision and administration of student personnel services in secondary school is not only important but necessary for the achievement of the desired educational goals of inculcating the right type of values, attitude, skills and the development of mental and physical abilities as equipment for producing good quality citizens for Nigeria (FRN, 2004). Arising from the researcher’s observation of happenings among secondary schools in Cross River State, coupled with his daily interaction with secondary school students and teachers, it appears the personnel services provided and administered are far below the expected minimum level.
Basic student personnel services include registration and orientation of students, enrolment into classes, guidance and counselling services, health, social and recreational services. Others are psychological, disciplinary, convenience, library, evaluation services as well as opportunities for participation in school governance, among others. While observation in some schools shows that some of the services are haphazardly provided, in others they are either very negligible or non-existent. For example, in a meeting with principals of secondary schools in the state in October 2005, the then Commissioner for Education decried the poor performance of the state in the West African School Certificate Examination for many years. He conjecturally attributed the dismal performance to a number of factors, including indiscipline, poor attitude to learning and loitering among students, and lack of commitment on the part of teachers to their duties. In a swift reaction, many principals blamed the poor performance on the poor operational environment such as inadequate staffing, lack of basic infrastructure and poor maintenance of some students’ personnel services in secondary schools. They said that students and staff cannot be expected to perform well in the midst of physical, social and environmental inadequacies. This recent observation agrees with the views of Ezeocha (1990:265) when he said, “… students’ personnel services do not exist beyond the minimum level in secondary schools”.
The apparent low morale of secondary school students in the state appears to be further accentuated by recent state government policy which has extended school closing hour from 2.00p.m. to 3.00p.m. The policy makes no provision for mid day meals, transport services and other incentives to make the elongated school day pleasurable. Students now return from school late, hungry and tired on daily basis. This has brought about escapism, absenteeism and withdrawal of many students who cannot withstand the rigours of elongation in school hours.
Educational problems of the state could be many. These may include inadequate number and spread of schools, inadequate teacher supply, poor curriculum implementation, poor school infrastructure, poor funding and inadequate student personnel services. Evaluation of student personnel services in secondary schools in Cross River State is the focus of this study Put in a question form, the problem of this study is, “What is the extent of the implementation of orientation programme, routine and disciplinary services, health and counseling service, municipal services and participant in co-curricular activities and school governance among public, mission and private secondary school in Cross River State?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of the study was to evaluate the administration of student personnel services in secondary schools in Cross River State. Specifically the study sought to:
- Evaluate the extent of orientation programme among secondary schools in Cross River State
- Determine the extent of the routine and disciplinary services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State
- Determine the extent of the health services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State.
- Find out the extent of the guidance and counselling services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State
- Determine the extent to which municipal services are provided to secondary school students in Cross River State
- Ascertain the extent of secondary school students participation in co-curricular activities in Cross River State
- Ascertain the extent of participation in school governance by secondary school students in Cross River State
- Find out the structures put in place among secondary schools in Cross River State to ensure effective administration of student personnel services.
- Find out the constraints to the administration of student personnel services among secondary schools in Cross River State.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of benefit to the entire Nigerian society, agencies and individuals responsible for education in general, the Cross River State Ministry of Education, Cross River State Secondary Education Board, Proprietors of mission an private secondary schools, principals, teachers and students in a number of ways.
It will provide empirical information and date base that will enable educational planners, administrators and policy makers at the Cross River State Ministry of Education and Secondary Education Board to gain better understanding of the state of the provision and administration of student personnel services among secondary schools in the State. Such information and knowledge will guide educational planners in their subsequent plans and projection for schools. The administrators of secondary schools will from the study be better informed of the state of the human and material needs of secondary school as well as the personnel services provided for students. The information provided will guide them in taking proactive measures to minimize inadequacies discovered.
From the findings of the study, the inspectorate unit will be properly guided when granting approval for the operation of new secondary schools and during her routine inspection of existing ones.
By identifying and highlighting some constraints faced by school heads in the provision and administration of students’ personnel services, and by providing suggested solutions to the problems, school heads will gain insight into some aspects of their school problems and be placed in a better position on how to solve them. Proprietors of mission and private schools will also benefit from the findings of the study and the suggested solutions on an important aspect of their school life they may have been neglecting. The understanding which the result of the study will provide may serve as an eye-opener on the relevance of student personnel services to school proprietors. Students in Cross River State secondary schools in particular will immensely benefit from this study because the resultant awareness of the value and state of student personnel services by educational planners, administrators, policy makers and school heads will bring about their improvement, which will consequently make the school environment more conducive for teaching, learning and habitation by students. This will rekindle the waning interest of students in school attendance and learning. The world of academia, will benefit from the contributions which the findings of this study will make to the corpus of knowledge as it will provide information and data base for discussion, citation and further academic researches. The general public will through this study get to understand the symbiosis existing between the student personnel services and the curricular programme of secondary schools and will be better placed to provide their wards with their demands outside the curricular areas of school life.
Scope of the Study
The study is delimited to all public, mission and private secondary schools in Cross River State that are five years old and above. School covered in the study must have come into existence not later than September 2002. The content scope will cover an evaluation of the provision and administration of orientation programme, routine and disciplinary services, health and counselling services, as well as the provision of municipal services, co-curricular activities and participation in school governance by students of public, mission and private secondary schools in Cross River State. The study will also cover the administrative structure put in place for effective administration of student personnel services and how the structures are made functional by school heads. Constraints on the implementation of student personnel services will also form an aspect of the study. The evaluation will be based on the opinion of principals, teachers and the use of observation checklist.
The following research questions guided the Study:
- To what extent are secondary school students in Cross River State exposed to the components of orientation programme during orientation exercise?
- To what extent are routine and disciplinary services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State?
- How effective are the health services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State?
- How effective are the guidance and counselling services that are administered to secondary school students in Cross River State?
- To what extent are municipal services administered to secondary school students in Cross River State?
- To what extent do Cross River State Secondary school students participate in co-curricular activities?
- What is the extent of Cross River State’s Secondary School students participation in school governance?
- What are the structures put in place among secondary schools in Cross River State to ensure effective administration of student personnel Services?
- What are the constraints to the administration of student personnel
services among secondary schools in Cross River State?
The researcher generated and used the following null hypotheses to test the data collected for the study:
- There is no significant difference (P< .05) between Urban and rural secondary schools in the administration of student personnel services in Cross River State
- There is no significant difference (P< .05) among public, mission and private secondary schools in the administration of student personnel services in Cross River State
- There is no significant difference (P< .05) between urban and rural secondary schools in Cross River State on what constitutes constraints on the administration of student personnel services
- There is no significant difference (P< .05) among public, mission and private secondary schools in Cross River State on what constitutes constraints on the administration of student personnel services.