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THE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF TEACHING MATHEMATICS IN NIGERIA SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background of the Study
It is widely believed that mathematics is very important to the economic, scientific and political development of any nation. It is because of this common phenomenon that made every nation in the world to make mathematics a compulsory subject in every aspect of educational system.
The principles of mathematics are generally understood at an early age. When missed, it give birth to anxiety which includes a feelings of tension, apprehension or fear that interferes with mathematics performance. Mathematics anxiety is a phenomenon that cuts across some students in secondary schools because they tend to miss its principles.
Umionyang (1997), referred to mathematics as the foundation for science without which a nation can never be prosperous and economically independent. He further noted that competence in mathematics provides many of the opportunity for personnel required by industry, science, technology and education. Considering the contributions of mathematics to the contemporary world, one would have expected mounting interest on it as a discipline that is truly the language of science and technology but the reverse seems to be the case.
From a personal study carried out, there is poor performance in mathematics examinations. It is ironical that in our pre-science and technologically-oriented world, the youths who would have taken charge of global affairs in the future; the running of industries and the means of production, research laboratories, space technology and international politics are shying away from the very subject that should have adequately prepare them for such roles. The student’s flight in the secondary school is very alarming.
We are cognizant of the historical facts that the old indigenous cultures were pacesetters in mathematics and subsequently, made notable scientific discoveries. In Nigeria and Edo State in particular, the students performance in mathematics in secondary schools has continuously reflected poor performance over the years and this perhaps, could be attributed to the various problems associated with the teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools,
According to Uwadiae (2009) quoted in punch newspaper, 2009 that seventy seven percent (77%) of the candidates who sat for 2008 West African School Certificate Examination failed to get credit in mathematics. In view of this National challenge, this study sought to find out what could have influenced the problem, since mathematics was introduced into the syllabus with proper study, so many problems have been confronting effective teaching and learning of mathematics like
The attitude of students towards the learning of mathematics.
Unqualified teachers or using non- mathematics specialists to teach the subject in some Nigeria schools.
Lack of learning facilities e.g. mathematics laboratories in school.
Lack of appropriate method of teaching mathematics.
Overcrowding of mathematics syllabus.
The problems associated with teaching and learning of mathematics is seen from the lukewarm attitudes of some mathematics teachers and their ineffectiveness in mathematics education. Lack of student-teacher relationship has also been seen in the environment in which teaching and learning is conducted.
Teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools is very essential, no doubt because, it is regarded as a yardstick in the development of any nation.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The importance of mathematics to the world and to a nation’s technology breakthrough has been highlighted in the foregone section. This has been the reason why mathematics is given prominence in the school curriculum and timetable. However, in Edo State, the teaching and learning of mathematics have not been without problems. For some time now, there has been a growing concern over the poor teaching and learning of mathematics with the resultant [poor and falling standard in secondary schools’ student performance in mathematics. The West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination and other related examination body recognized in Nigeria have always indicated decrease in number of passes.
In addition, students are likely to attend schools that are poorly constructed with inadequate teaching and learning facilities. The curriculum with an overcrowded syllabus. Most mathematics teachers lack teaching affective characteristic and insufficient teacher training program. On the side of students, is loss of interest in learning mathematics and the teachers not showing enough motivation to arouse student’s interest in learning mathematics?
To what extent would all these problems of teaching and learning mathematics affect student performance in mathematics education? All these prompted the researcher to identify problems of teaching and learning of mathematics in some selected schools in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to find out the problems of teaching and learning of mathematics in Nigerian schools by considering;
The qualities of teachers teaching mathematics in Nigeria schools.
The activities of students toward learning of mathematics in Nigeria schools.
The factors militating against effective utilization of available instructional materials in the teaching and learning of mathematics.
It is the intention of the researcher to study the problems associated with the teaching mathematics in addition, the reasons behind the students’ failure of mathematics and lack of interest in the subject will be elucidated upon during the course of this research work.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The need for this research is to elicit useful information that could be the problems associated with teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools. Not until useful ideas to the problems militating against mathematics education is unraveled, through a research of this kind, we will not be able to suggest useful and workable solutions to the problems.
The research will be of help to policy makers in education, in review of curriculum development and implementation, proper repositioning of teacher training program and also be of help to teachers as it will expose areas where the teachers need to put more efforts in the teaching of mathematics. It will further help teachers in employing better techniques and methods of teaching to the best understanding of the students. In addition, the findings of this research will help students concerned to appreciate the subject mathematics, expose the importance of mathematics, the wonders, fun and happiness it gives thereby encouraging them to put in more effort and to remove every negative sentiments, and fear students have towards the study of mathematics.
The study is an eye opener to the general public in making people see the usefulness of mathematics in day to day activities and the indispensible contribution of mathematics in nation building. It makes the society have a grasp of their action and inaction towards mathematical education.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study is a quantitative survey that will cover five secondary schools selected in Ovia north East Local Government Area of Edo State. Both sexes of teachers and students shall be used as subjects to get information on the teaching and learning of mathematics through a self-report instrument (questionnaire).
1.7 Research Question
The following research questions are put forth to guide the researcher in this study:
Do mathematics teachers have the required qualification to teach mathematics effectively?
Are there enough teaching aids to teach mathematics effectively?
Is the mathematics syllabus overcrowded?
To what extent does the environmental influence affect the performance of student in learning mathematics?
How do students perceive mathematics as a student?
1.8 Definition of Terms
Problems: This can be seen as obstacle that is hindering the effectiveness of a thing.
Teaching: This is the process of imparting knowledge
Learning: This is a process whereby there is a relative permanent change in behaviour due to impartation of knowledge.
Academic Qualification: Is an academic skills quality or attribute that make somebody suitable for a teaching job.
Teacher Experience: This is a kind of skill acquired through being involved in teaching over a period of time.
Teaching Techniques: Is the procedure or skill required to impart mathematics knowledge to the student.
Teaching Aids: Teaching materials that helps teacher in transmitting mathematical knowledge to the students.
Student Motivation: It is a positive reinforcement that stimulate students to show interest in learning mathematics.
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