1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Academic performance of students is a key feature in education (Rono, 2013). It is the centre around which the whole education system revolves. Narad and Abdullah (2016) opined that the academic performance of students determines the success or failure of any academic institution. Signh, Malik and Signh (2016) also argued that academic performance of students has a direct impact on the socio-economic development of a country. Similarly, Farooq, Chaudhry, Shafiq and Behanu (2011), asserted that students’ academic performance serves as a bedrock for knowledge acquisition and the development of skills. Additionally, Farooq et al., (2011) emphasized that the topmost priority of all educators is academic performance of students. According to Narad and Abdullah (2016) academic performance is the knowledge gained which is assessed by marks by a teacher and/or educational goals set by students and teachers to be achieved over a specific period. They added that these goals are measured by using continuous assessment or examinations results.
Factors contributing to improvement in students’ academic performance have received much attention from educators and researchers (Signh, Malik & Sign, 2016; Ali, Haider, Munir, Khan & Ahmed, 2013; Farooq, Chaudhry, Shafiq & Behanu, 2011). These researchers found that several factors contribute to improvement in the academic performance of students. Ali et al. (2013) found daily study hours, social economic status of parents/guardians and age as factors that significantly affects academic performance. Similarly, Narad and Addullah (2016) and Farooq et al., (2011) also found economic status of parents, their academic background and encouragement as factors that influence academic performance. Proper guidance from parents and teachers, communication skills, and learning facilities have also been found as a significant determinant to academic performance (Signh, Malik & Signh, 2016).
The findings from the previous studies are a combination of home, school, students, and teacher factors (Narad & Abdullah, 2016; Farooq, Chaudhry, Shafiq & Behanu, 2011) as well as environmental, personal, social, psychological, and economic factors (Sign, Malik & Sign, 2016; Ali et al. 2013). Other authors have also found that age, gender, and parents’ level of education affects academic performance (Khan, Iqbal & Tasneem, 2015; Eshetu, 2014). It should be noted that these findings differ among countries, different academic levels and the subjects involved. The current study focuses on factors contributing to improvement in academic performance of students at the Junior High School (JHS) in Gomoa Manso, Ghana.
Per the education structure in Ghana, JHS forms the third level of basic education. According to the Report of President’s Committee on Review of Education in Ghana, basic education is defined as “the minimum period of schooling needed to ensure that children acquire basic literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills as well as skills for creativity and healthy living” (Ministry of Education, 2002, p. 26). This level should be free and compulsory and comprises of kindergarten, primary and JHS. As indicated earlier, the focus of this research is on JHS. JHS is a three year post primary education program which prepares students aged 13 to 15 years to sit for a Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in their third year. From 2010 to 2016 the enrolment of JHS students increased by 10.6% (Ministry of Education, 2016). Their performance at BECE from 1998 to 2002 was 60.1%; this figure increased by 0.99% from 2003 to 2007 but dropped significantly by 9.1% from 2008 to 2011.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The fourth goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” (United Nations Development Program, 2017, p.7). This is one of the most important SDGs because the UN sees it as medium in achieving the other goals (UNDP, 2017). It has therefore become necessary that all countries ensure that their populace get access to quality education. In Ghana, the Education Sector Performance (ESP) Strategic plan from 2010-2020 seek to ensure the provision of equitable good quality universal education (MoE, 2016). Although the definition of quality education is very complex, one of its key components is academic performance (United Nations Children’s Fund, 2000).
The academic performance of JHS students have been declining since 2009. Their general performance after BECE declined from 62.16% in 2009 to 50.21% in 2008. It decreases again from 49.12% in 2010 to 46.93% in 2011 (West African Examination Council, 2012). The trend is not different from Gomoa Manso Basic School which is the case study for this research. Out of the 51 candidates for 2010 BECE, no candidate obtained a grade of 6 – 10; only 9 had aggregate 11 – 30. In 2011, 34 candidates were presented for the BECE, no one had aggregate 6 -10, 10 obtained aggregate 11 -20 and the other had 21 and above. Apart from 2010, where 2 candidates obtained aggregate 6 -10, the subsequent years have followed the same trend in 2010 and 2011 (Ghana Education Service, 2014).
Previous studies have found that improvement in the academic performance of students is dependent on a combination of teacher, student, school, and parental factors (Amuzu, Ankalibazuk, & Abdulai, 2017; Narad & Abdullah, 2016; Okolie, Elom, & Inyiagu, 2014; Oppong-Sekyere, Oppong-Sekyere & Akpalu, 2013; Farooq et al., 2011). Others have also attributed it to environmental, personal, social, psychological, and economic factors (Sign, Malik & Sign, 2016; Ali et al. 2013; Mushtaq & Khan, 2012). Most of these studies tend to focus on a single subject or focuses on limited factors that contributes to academic performance. For example, Farooq et al. (2011) focused on only socio-economic status and parent’s level education. They recommended that other studies should explore peer factors, family factors, student, and school factors. Again, Jayanthi, Balakrishnan, Ching, Latif and Nasiruden (2014) emphasized that an extensive study should be conducted to include more than one school to assess the academic performance of students.
Although, several studies have been conducted to assess the academic performance of students worldwide, there is lack of sufficient studies conducted to assess factors that can improve students’ academic performance. The few studies conducted do not assess the current performance of students in JHS and their preparation towards their final exam (Nkrumah, 2017). This gap in the literature needs to be addressed. The current study sought to assess factors that contribute to improvement in the academic performance of JHS students in Gomoa Manso Basic School.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study was to assess factors that contributes to improvement in academic performance of Junior High School (JHS) Students in Gomoa Manso Basic School.
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The study was conducted primarily to assess the factors that contribute to improvement in the academic performance of Junior High School students in Gomoa Manso Basic School. Specifically, the study sought to:
1. Asses the general performance of JHS students at Gomoa Manso Basic School.
2. Determine the student, school, parent, and teacher factors that contributes to improvement in the academic performance of JHS students at Gomoa Manso Basic School.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Generally, this research sought to answer one broad question; what factors contributes to improvement in the academic performance of JHS students at Gomoa Manso Basic School? To answer this broad question, the following specific questions served as a guide:
1. What is the general performance of JHS students at Gomoa Manso Basic School?
2. What is the student, school, parent, and teacher factors that contributes to an improvement in the academic performance of JHS students at Gomoa Manso Basic School?
In addition to the above, the following hypothesis was tested:
1. There is no significant relationship between level of parent’s education and an improvement in academic performance.
2. There is no significant relationship between gender and an improvement in academic performance.
3. There is no significant relationship between age and an improvement in academic performance.
1.6 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Students’ academic performance is an important subject to all stakeholders in the education sector. As a result, several studies have been conducted to asses’ factors that contribute to students’ academic performance. However, there is inadequate materials to explain factors contributing to improvement in the academic performance of student in Gomoa Manso Basic School (Nkrumah, 2017).
Generally, their academic performance is below average, and this affect the students, teachers, parents, and all other stakeholders. It is therefore important that educators and researchers conduct studies to find all the key factors which can help to improve their academic performance.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The introduction of free Senior High School (SHS) in Ghana has made it imperative that all JHS candidates get access to SHS. Their placement in SHS is, however, not automatic but dependent on their performance at BECE as well as their continuous assessment. This implies that the performance of students at the JHS level should be critically examined. The current study sought to address this challenge by assessing factors that contribute to improvement in the academic performance of JHS students. The findings from this study will assist the students to appreciate the preparatory level towards their final exam. Headteachers and teachers would be able to identify their weakness as well as those of their students and plan strategically. Parents will know the strength and weakness of the wards and the role they must play to ensure that their children obtain good grades. Other stakeholders such as the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) would also be well informed. Again, the findings from the study will serve as the basis for future studies.
1.8 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Geographically, the study was conducted at Gomoa Manso which is in the Gomoa East District of the central region of Ghana. Currently, there are over 20 basic schools within this district but only one of them is situated at Gomoa Manso which serves as the case study for this research. As indicated earlier, basic school comprises of kindergarten, primary and Junior High School. This study focused on JHS level and only Gomoa Manso Basic School was be used. The main attention was on the current performance of the students and the school, student, home, and teacher factors that contributes to improvement in their academic performance.
1.9 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Simon (2011) opined that limitation in research are weaknesses that are outside the control of the researcher. Bases on his assertion, the main limitation of the study was the cooperation from respondents. The other limitations were using a single school to make generalization for all Junior High School students in Ghana.
According to Simon (2011) delimitations are within the control of the researcher. It spells out the researcher’s choices, boundaries, and scope of the study. The study focused on academic performance of Junior High School students from Grade 1 to 3. Gomoa Manso Basic School was used as the case study and the target groups were teachers, JHS students and the headmaster.