THE ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNAL EFFICIENCY OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background to the Study
The importance of education has always been emphasized over the ages. For example, Cohn (1979) states that education is the single most important determinant of a person’s economic and social success. Cohn quotes some world-famous philosophers to support this assertion. According to Cohn, Plato had declared that, “the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life”. Also Plato had affirmed that, “education is the best provision for old age” and that, “educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living is to the dead” (p. 27).
It is in realization of the importance of education that the Federal Government of Nigeria in the National Policy on Education (4th. ed.). (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004), describes it as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. Ejiogu (1999) equally asserts that:
Not only is education the greatest force that can be used to bring about redress, it is also the greatest investment that the nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources. It is the most important instrument of change, as any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society can be preceded by educational revolution (p. 199).
Secondary education is a crucial level in the education system because secondary schools are the recipients of products of primary schools and the source of candidates for tertiary education. Public schools are run with tax payers’ money while private schools generate
their own revenues. Public schools are usually accessible to the children of the general public because they are run by the government, whether federal, state or local. Even people whose children do not attend these schools still help, through their taxes, to ensure that the people in the society are educated. However, in the United States of America (USA), some public schools, including those run by School Districts, which rely on non-public funding such as high fees or private donations, are still considered public by virtue of public ownership and control (Public Schools, 2006).
Private schools are those run by individuals, groups, corporate bodies and missionary societies. They retain the right to select their students and are run in whole or in part with the fees they charge the students. In the United Kingdom, some private secondary schools are called public schools. However, the term "public schools" is used for older and more prestigious schools like Cheltenham, Eton, and Harrow (Private Schools, 2006). In many countries of the world, including Nigeria, formal education was initiated by private proprietors. For example, schools were privately run in Southern Nigeria between 1842 and 1882 by missionaries. The British colonial government started to show interest in the education of the people in 1882 (Fafunwa, 1991).
In Nigeria, private schools include Church, Muslim, individual and organisation - owned schools, University Staff Schools or International Schools and Military (Army, Navy and Air Force) secondary schools are also private schools. However, in military schools token fees are paid, the infrastructure is owned by the government which also recruits, disciplines, promotes teachers and pays their salaries and pensions. In spite of this, they are categorized by the Kwara State Ministry of Education as private schools (Kwara State Ministry of
Education, 2009). UNESCO (as cited in Oladipo, 2005) defines private schools as schools that are not operated by a public authority, whether or not they receive financial support from such authority. Therefore, management is the criterion that determines whether a school is private or public. The Kwara State Ministry of Education’s categorization is in conformity with this.
Public schools, on the other hand, consist of Federal Government Unity Schools called Federal Government secondary schools, model secondary schools and conventional state secondary schools. Community secondary schools are categorized as public schools in Kwara State because they are usually established and eventually transferred to government for funding and management. The categorizations of schools into public and private sectors have led to comparisons between them. Buckingham (2000) affirms that:
The division of schools in Australia into public and private sectors inevitably leads to comparisons. The growth in the private sector in recent years has renewed the debate over the relative merits of public versus private education. Some public schools consistently excel in academic achievement but sadly they are the exception. Students who attend private schools are more likely to complete Year 12, get better results, have higher rates of university entry, and lower rates of unemployment. Not surprising, more and more parents are "opting out" of the public system, often by making financial sacrifices (p. 2).
Efficiency is the degree to which a social system achieves its objectives with a minimum effort, time and waste. Efficiency also refers to the relationship between the input into a system (be it agricultural, industrial or educational) and the outputs of that system (be they
wheat, vehicles or educated individuals). These input and output have to be aggregated
and usually prices are used to perform this valuation exercise (UNESCO, 2003). Educational efficiency can be categorized into external efficiency and internal efficiency. External efficiency focuses on the extent to which the educational system obtains better results when compared with other forms of social investments. The aim here is to justify society's resources that are utilized in the educational production process (Oguntoye and Alani, 1998). According to Bacchus (as cited in DFID Department of Education 1993), the process of providing children with education most likely to help them improve their quality of life when they become adults is referred to as “external efficiency” or “effectiveness of schools”. External efficiency can also be viewed in terms of the degree to which the education system meets the broad social, cultural and economic objectives of the wider system of which it is a part (Nwankwo and Patwari, 1981).
Internal efficiency, which is the main concern of this research, aims at getting optimal results from the production process. It is important to define the objectives one wants to achieve or the outputs expected. Inputs are then combined and processed in order to produce the desired outputs with as little effort and cost as possible while also avoiding waste (Nwankwo and Patwari, 1981). Bacchus (as cited in DFID Education Department 1993) states that raising the academic performance of students in the various subjects offered in schools with current available resources is an effort to improve the quality of education; and that such effort is often referred to as an attempt to improve the internal efficiency of schools. Internal efficiency in education has two dimensions, namely (1) the flow of the students through the system with a minimum of wastage; and (2) the quality of learning at given levels or periods. Wastage in the flow of students manifests quantitatively in the dropout, drop-in, promotion and repetition rates; while the quality of learning is
determined by the input - output analysis of the education system.
The review of literature conducted by Adeogun (1995) showed that the final products of schools reflect their ultimate efficiency; and that the input - output model is the basic analytical tool used to determine the degree of efficiency of the education system. Durosaro (1985) and Famade (1999) also agreed that internal efficiency deals with the productivity of the school system. According to the Nigerian Educational Research Council (NERC, 1980), the best certification of the quality of the senior secondary school is the competitiveness of its products to gain admission to higher institutions and to secure employment. When people (parents, teachers and even Ministry of Education officials) speak about improving the efficiency or productivity of education, they generally refer to changes in the transformation of education inputs into outputs. Therefore, this current study focused on the quality of learning, rather than analysis of wastage in schools.
Emphasis on the efficient utilization of human and material resources has begun since the introduction of formal education in Nigeria in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Oguntoye and Alani (1998) point out that during the colonial period; the grant-in-aid was linked with the efficiency of schools. For example, the 1882 and 1887 Ordinances stipulated that the rates and conditions for grants should take into cognizance the degree of excellence in the schools. The education laws that were enacted after the above-mentioned ordinances also focused on efficiency in the education system. For instance, the British colonial government’s Education Ordinance for Nigeria, No. 39 of 1948, Schedule A, Section 37, did not only emphasize the need for efficiency, it also stipulated how to achieve efficient results by recommending that only qualified teachers should teach in the classroom. It also stated the need for supervision.
Emphasis on efficiency is no longer apparent in the Nigerian education system. There is a general dissatisfaction with teachers' performance. Generally, public school teachers receive better salaries and fringe benefits than most of their private school counterparts. Yet, private school teachers are often more committed to the education of their wards because they consider the students and their parents as their clients without whose patronage they cannot remain in business (Onyene, 2005; Tooley, 2005). A substantial amount of resources was invested in education, especially during the period of economic boom in the 1970s, due to the money pouring in from crude oil sales. However, the trend could not be sustained as a result of economic depression (Oguntoye, 1987; Okunola, 1993; Ejiogu, 1997 and Bello, 2006). Spiral inflation and the devaluation of the naira all combined to aggravate the problem of funding education. While the availability of actual resources is limited, several factors such as increase in population, urbanization and increased awareness of the value of education as a means of social and economic upward mobility have increased the demand for education. Adesina (1981) observed that as schools grew in size, teachers, administrators, parents and the general public expressed concern for individual students and feared that standard could fall.
Quality education is defined by Juran (as citied in Babalola, Adedeji and Erwat, 2007) as “fitness to purpose” in relation to the user and customer’s needs. In other words, quality education means the end products conform to standards in meeting the needs of the students, parents and the society. Quality education involves quality of learners, quality of content, quality of processes, quality of the learning environment and quality of outcomes (UNESCO, 2000). Therefore, the variables in this study were derived from the definition of quality education. The variables were: principals’ quality, teachers’ quality, and physical and
material resources (input variables); supervision mechanisms, discipline process, academic learning time and parental involvement (process variables); and the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results (outcome variable).
Adesina (2005) analyses the trends in the Nigerian education system between 1914 and 2004, and concludes that the consistent and deliberate emphasis on educational growth at the expense of qualitative educational development has been and remains one of the most nagging and intractable dilemmas of the Nigerian education system. The educationist stresses further that public education is for those who cannot afford better education obtainable at private educational institutions. The general public, according to Adesina, now differentiate “education” from “schooling”, and beneficiaries show greater interest in the relevance of their training to national, social and economic needs than mere possession of certificates that cannot ensure their survival in the society. The writer further opines that, “mere possession of a hand-saw does not make one a carpenter”. In Kwara State for instance, though most teachers are qualified, their knowledge base is poor (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2009a). Adesina (2005) states that during the period between 1914 and 2004, Nigeria’s educational plans were extensively guided by, and largely depended on ad hoc commissions whose recommendations emphasized quality and discouraged large-scale expansion. All plans accorded teacher education high priority because it is a significant determinant of the quality of the education system, and subsequently, students’ academic performance.
Adesina however, declares that Nigeria’s education particularly since independence, has been one of growth without development, and that the education sector has failed to match
quantity with quality. Fafunwa (as cited in Fagbamiye, 2004) agrees with Adesina’s assertion that the standard of education is not really what is at stake; rather, “what is actually falling is our ability to meet the set standards”. Fagbamiye (2004) expatiates that so much money is being expended on providing social welfare services, particularly education but that “we have become worse off in 2003 than we were in 1976 when Universal Primary Education Programme was introduced” (p. 257).
Fagbamiye (2005) subsequently declares that whether the policy makers admit it or not, Nigerian education is in crisis because teachers and students could not match the standards of education that were obtainable in the past. The writer points out that at one time, students could go abroad and gain admission to educational institutions for further studies or work. However, those countries that used to accept products from Nigeria in the past are no longer eager to receive them because they are of poorer quality than hitherto. Even within the country, employers of labour are now weary about the quality of the products from Nigerian institutions (Fagbamiye, 2005).
Many countries focus on education because it is central to any nation’s future success as an international player in an increasingly competitive market economy. For example, the basic structure of the United Kingdom’s education system was designed to support the industrial society of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; to provide for all children, and to create an orderly, obedient and compliant workforce destined for the factories (Naftalin, 2006). However, Naftalin writes that in order to prepare the youth for the twenty - first century, there must be a new paradigm shift that will embrace the four-pillar curriculum
designed by the UNESCO Task Force for the twenty-first century. The four pillars are: (1) learning to know; (2) learning to do; (3) learning to live together; and (4) learning to be.
Naftalin (2006) explains further that there is need for:
…an education system designed to nurture curiosity, a desire to learn, a willingness to take risks and experiment. An education that fosters courage, self-esteem and independence of thought and that offers the opportunity to develop skills to levels of excellence. An education system that facilitates not just the acquisition of knowledge but the opportunities to translate such knowledge into personal meaning and understanding as the basis on which creativity and sound judgment and wisdom are developed (p. 207).
This is the type of education which is referred to in this study as quality education. It is the type that Nigeria seeks in this period of her development through the National Policy on Education. As education is aimed at social reconstruction, there is growing loss of confidence in the Nigerian education system because of the many crises that plague it and the appalling academic performance of students. Consequently, rich parents search for alternatives to public schools and are often prepared to pay huge sums of money to send their children to private schools (Fadipe, 2000). The American National Commission on Excellence in Education (as cited in Fadipe, 2000) advocates the view that a nation’s commitment to education is an investment in ever-renewable human resources that are more durable and flexible than capital, plant and equipment.
According to Wynn (as cited in California Department of Education, 2007), good quality education requires leaders who have knowledge and expertise. However, the Education Sector Analysis Unit of the Federal Ministry of Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2007b) found that persons who were not qualified to teach even in primary schools were heading secondary schools in Nigeria. Several researchers (US Department of Education, 2005; Darlington, 2001; Adkins and Moomaw, 2005; and Everard, 2009) have shown that principals’ quality, in terms of qualification and experience, is the single most important school-related factor in students’ academic performance. Ogunsaju (2000) opines that in Nigeria, the education sector has faced various problems ranging from poor human resource development to falling academic standards. The writer argues that society as well as educational institutions have overlooked the primary purpose of schooling, and the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to achieve them. Also, teachers’ qualifications and experience greatly influence academic performance of students. However, a recent report by the Education Sector Analysis Unit (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2007b) showed that the bulk of Nigerian teachers had first or second degrees, though many of them did not have professional qualifications.
A casual observation reveals general indiscipline among students. This manifests in truancy and lateness to school which are often due to irregular attendance by teachers. There are also problems of poor condition of school environment, inadequate classrooms and other infrastructure, and poor academic performance by students. Consequently, products of secondary schools have poor communication skills and cannot express themselves in simple English (Ijaiya, 2004). Many educationists such as Baiyelo (2006) maintain that all is not well with Nigeria’s secondary education system. The problem they argue, started from when the
products of the Universal Primary Education programme (embarked upon in 1976), started to move into secondary schools. Their large size created an enrolment explosion. As a result, human and material resources became overstretched, and unqualified and under-qualified teachers had to be recruited. Not only were the classrooms and laboratories inadequate, most schools lacked them and still do. Teachers were poorly paid and salaries were sometimes delayed for several months. All these lead to poor academic performance by students.
Many of Nigeria’s public and some private schools still suffer from these ailments. Kwara State secondary schools are not immune to these problems. These deficiencies in the organization and management of the school system are therefore responsible for poor performance of students (Baiyelo, 2006). Even the federal government colleges which had been role models to other schools in terms of good facilities and high academic standards have depreciated considerably. Poor academic performance in Nigerian secondary schools reached a crisis point when the Federal Ministry of Education discovered that the academic performance of students in its 102 colleges was pathetically low considering the increasing costs of running them. The Ministry then considered either selling them outright, or going into partnership with the private sector in the management of the schools (The Federal Ministry of Education put out an advertorial on Thisday of October 22, 2006 on p. 12.). This has heightened the debate on whether private schools are actually more efficient than public ones. Results of some studies (Buckingham, 2000; Adeyemi, 2005 and Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2007b) indicate that private secondary school students are more capable of obtaining distinctions or credits in five or more subjects including English Language and Mathematics at the WASSCE than those in public schools.
The educational programmes in Nigeria, Kwara State included, started to crash with the commencement of crash programmes for teachers (Ajayi, 1998). Teachers, who were rushed through such programmes to obtain the Teachers’ Grade Two and Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) certificates, were teaching in both primary and secondary schools by 1978/79. Ajayi states that with an education that lacks a broad based of academic content, such teachers had little to offer. Furthermore, the NCE teachers who were supposed to teach only up to junior secondary form three, not only taught up to form five and Higher School Certificate (HSC) classes in some cases, but were appointed assistant principals of secondary schools. The point is that even though many of the teachers referred to in this paragraph might have retired, nevertheless, they have left behind the adverse effects of their inadequacies which reflect in the present crop of teachers in the country, including those in Kwara State. For example, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2009 a) reports that:
(Though) most of Kwara’s teachers are qualified, assessments (have) demonstrated (that) the quality of their subject knowledge in literacy and numeracy (is) extremely poor, with literacy standard being a particular problem…. As a result, few teachers are able to carry out everyday teaching tasks such as planning a simple lesson (p. 4).
Ijaiya (2004) agrees that the problem of education in Kwara State is deep and fundamental, and that it would take a total and radical re-engineering of the system to cure it of its ailment. The author asserts that it was not only the government that was under-investing in education; parents, teachers, head teachers and students were equally guilty in various ways. It is generally agreed that physical and material resources, when efficiently utilized, are often significantly related to students’ academic performance (Madumere, 2007). Yet, Alabi (2001) reported that there was an acute shortage of classrooms in Kwara State.
Parental involvement in the education of their children is considered a major factor in improving school efficiency, the quality of education and students’ academic performance (Akinwunmi, 2003; Ubangha, 2004). Yet, there may be impediments to parental involvement. These impediments include lack of time on the part of the parents, language problems and a low literacy rate (Akinwunmi, 2003). School supervision has been revolutionized by the Federal Inspectorate Service which has now placed emphasis on collaboration between the Inspectorate Service and the schools in a holistic manner. In this regard, supervision means evaluation of the school environment; the curriculum; management of the school; provision of care, guidance and support; learners’ participation, and standards attained by the school in order to achieve quality education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2009b).
Discipline involves conformity to school rules and regulations by both students and teachers. Sammons, Thomas and Mortimore (1997) reports that school and department ethos and order are important in determining academic effectiveness in secondary schools. Also Craig, Kraft and Du Plessis (as cited in UNICEF, 2000) state that well-managed classrooms contribute to quality of education. Academic learning time comprises allocated time, instructional time and engaged time (Time and Learning, 2007). T & L concludes that time matters; but how much or how little it matters depends on the degree to which it is devoted to appropriate instruction.
Statement of the Problem
A radically improved education is a pre-requisite for achieving sustained economic growth at a level sufficiently high enough to reduce poverty, and to help build a democratic and
equitable society. No society can achieve these objectives without a high level of adult literacy and a sufficient coverage of basic education. Low quality of education is the single most significant constraint to achieving both Education for All (EFA) goals and helping countries to successfully benefit from technological revolution (UNESCO, 2006). The Kwara State education system is confronted with many constraints which have resulted in poor quality education. Ijaiya (2004) stated that the dwindling quality of education in Kwara State was depicted by poor pupils’ achievement in basic skills and public examinations. The researcher expatiated that the performance of primary and secondary school students in National Common Entrance Examination and University Matriculation Examinations (UME) respectively in most subjects, especially the Sciences, English and Mathematics was woeful. Many who passed could possibly have been aided through examination malpractice, which is why many students migrate to rural schools for opportunities to cheat. Some principals, headmasters, and teachers assist students to cheat. Students’ dread of English Language and Mathematics at virtually all levels of the education system is traceable to very weak primary schools which create problems for the upper levels.
The Federal Inspectorate Service (FRN, 2009c) in the “Quality Assurance Instrument” set academic performance benchmarks for schools. If the students in a school should score 75% with 5 credits or more including Mathematics and English Language, in WASSCE for example, the school is rated excellent or outstanding. If 60% to 74% of the students make 5 credits including Mathematics and English Language, the school is rated very well. If the score is between 44% and 59%, the school is considered fair. If only 30% - 44% of students score 5 credits including Mathematics and English Language, the school is deemed poor. Finally, a school whose students score below 30% is labelled very poor. The average
performance of students in Kwara State in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has been very low. This is evident from the statistics of WASSCE results which shows that students in Kwara State who had 5 credits and above including English Language and Mathematics were 5.32% in 1999, 4.77% in 2000, 13.4% in 2001,
12.51% in 2002, 14.62% in 2003, 3.72% in 2004, and 6.15% in 2005. Bauchi State, on the
other hand, recorded 24.48%, 25.06%, 46.74%, 37.01% and 34.06% in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2007c). This research was therefore motivated by the declining fortunes of secondary education in Kwara State.
Kwara State is one of the 22 Educationally Less Developed States (ELDSs) (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2009c). The Federal Ministry of Education in a circular (Ref. FME/S/518/Vol. 1/99) of September 2, 1983 enjoined all universities in the country to promote diversity in their admission policies. The Educationally Less Developed States are the late starters in acquiring Western education. Candidates from these states are therefore given special concessions in the admission policies to enable them catch up with their counterparts from the educationally more advanced states (Oloyede, 2009). Abdullahi (2008) opines that Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where parents are more educated than their children. Abdullahi laments that the public primary and secondary schools that produced some of the country’s all-time best brains have long disappeared. Private schools have become alternatives. However, as private schools are driven mainly by business motives, the poor are consequently priced out of quality education.
The persistent academic performance gaps between students in public and private schools, and the obvious disparities among the states will not only endanger growth and prosperity
of the State and Nigeria as a whole but will hamper individual students’ achievement. The government, according to the Nigerian Constitution (1999), is expected to provide equal and adequate educational opportunities for all citizens at all levels. This provision is being threatened. It was against this background that this study analysed the internal efficiency of public and private secondary schools in Kwara State.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this research were:
1. To assess the relationship between principals’ quality, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
2. To determine the relationship between teachers’ quality, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
3. To investigate the relationship between physical and material resources, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
4. To assess the relationship between supervision mechanisms and students’ academic performance in private, and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
5. To assess the relationship between discipline process, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
6. To examine the relationship between academic learning time, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
7. To investigate the relationship between parental involvement in their children’s education, and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
8. To investigate whether there is any difference in the academic performance of private and public secondary school students in Kwara State in the WASSCE.
9. To assess the difference in the internal efficiency levels of private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
10. To identify the differences in the input – process variables between private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
The following research questions guided this study:
1. Is there any relationship between principals’ quality and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
2. Is there any relationship between teachers’ quality and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
3. Is there any relationship between physical and material resources and academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
4. Is there any relationship between supervision mechanisms and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
5. Is there any relationship between discipline process and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
6. Is there any relationship between academic learning time and students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
7. Is there any relationship between parental involvement in their children’s education and students’ academic performance in private and public schools in Kwara State?
8. Is there any difference in the academic performance of private and public secondary school students in Kwara State in the WASSCE?
9. Is there any difference in the internal efficiency levels in private and public secondary schools in the Kwara State?
10. Are there any differences in the input – process variables between private and public secondary schools in Kwara State?
The following hypotheses were proposed for this study:
1. Principals’ quality has no significant relationship with students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
2. Teachers’ quality has no significant relationship with students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
3. Physical and material resources have no significant relationship with students’ academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
4. Supervision mechanisms has no significant relationship with students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
5. There is no significant relationship between discipline process and students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
6. There is no significant relationship between academic learning time and students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
7. Parental involvement in their children's education has no significant relationship with students' academic performance in private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
8. There is no significant difference in students’ academic performance of private and public secondary schools in Kwara State in the WASSCE.
9. There is no significant difference in the internal efficiency levels of private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
10. There are no significant differences in input – process variables between private and public secondary schools in Kwara State.
Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study was limited to the assessment of the internal efficiency of public and private secondary schools in Kwara State in 2007, 2008 and 2009 academic sessions. The rationale for choosing these academic sessions was that they were the most recent years because the field work was carried out in the schools in 2009. These years were also used as a time frame to find an aggregate, and therefore make the WASSCE results more reliable as a measure of the outcome in the schools. The WASSCE examination results were meant to measure the knowledge and skills that students must have acquired during their period of schooling. Principals, teachers and students participated in the study. There are two categories of school’s internal efficiency, namely analysis of wastage in the flow of students (quantity) and analysis of the quality of the secondary school education. This study was limited to the evaluation of the quality of students’ academic performance at the end of secondary education. The study was limited to the cognitive and psychomotor outcomes of education because these are easier to measure than the affective domain of education.
Principals’ and teachers’ qualities were limited to their academic and professional qualifications, professional development, ICT competence and experience. Supervision
mechanisms were limited to the internal school supervision by Principals, Vice-Principals, Heads of Department and Heads of Subjects.
Significance of the Study
Analysis of the education system can help to identify efficient and less efficient schools. It is hoped that the outcome of this study would give education policy makers, school administrators and teachers valuable information on how educational efficiency could be improved. The findings of this study would be of significance to all those who wish to raise the standard of education in Kwara State because an increase in educational efficiency will result in improved students’ performance.
The results of the study would also increase knowledge and stimulate further research. For instance, a more comprehensive study could be embarked upon by the State in all its schools in order to identify and help to minimize the factors that impede internal efficiency. It is hoped that the study would help to enhance efficient utilization of human and material resources, including the use of teachers' and students' time for improved educational outcomes. A strong educational system is a driving force for economic prosperity; hence the question about what determines educational efficiency is of special importance. The desire for knowledge on the education production function, and the sources of inefficiency at any level of education is a sufficient justification to continue to carry out research on the topic. Education expenditure can be reduced drastically if schools are run efficiently and institutions could still achieve the same or even better quality education. Whatever the value of wasted resources, it will be small compared to the human and economic wastages that will be created by inferior education (Adkins and Moomaw, 2005). The study of internal
efficiency would help the utilization of resources to the best advantage and address inequalities. If the education system is inefficient, the cost of education will be out of reach for most potential students, and the quality of their lives and those of their communities would also be adversely affected; especially the present harsh economic times require efficient management of schools.
Operational Definitions of Terms
Efficiency, for the purpose of this study, means the ability of secondary schools in Kwara State to produce the desired students’ outcomes with the physical, human and material resources available to them. Thus, efficiency aims at getting optimal results from the production process. The West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) result were used to measure the efficiency of the schools to find out whether their students obtained the best results possible with the resources available to them.
Internal efficiency is the rate at which the secondary schools are able to turn out products with minimum wastage. Poor academic performance, for the purpose of this study, amounts to wastage.
Production, In this study, refers to the transformation of the students (as inputs) into educated individuals (outputs) with the required knowledge and relevant skills.
Input, for the purpose of this study, refers to the resources used to produce the output (secondary school leavers). These include principals’ quality, teachers’ quality, and physical and material resources.
Process, for the purpose of this study, relates to quality of supervision, effective discipline, academic learning time and parental involvement.
Principals' Quality, for the purpose of this study, means academic and professional
qualifications (including certificate in Educational Management) and experience of the principals. Principal’s quality also includes professional development such as seminars and workshops attended, and ICT competence.
Teachers’ Quality refers to the academic and professional qualifications as well as experience of teachers. For this study, teachers are supposed to have a minimum of NCE qualification. Teacher’s quality also includes professional development and ICT competence. Students’ Academic Performance, for the purpose of this study, refers to the ability of students to recall facts and put down on paper the knowledge they have acquired, verbally or practically in the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations. The benchmark used for this study was five credits and above, including Mathematics and English Language.
Supervision mechanisms consist of activities of the Principals, Vice-Principals, Heads of Departments and Subject Heads to ensure effective and efficient teaching and learning.
Discipline process refers to respect for and obedience to school rules and regulations; that is, regular school attendance, punctuality, observation of dress code, language code, and so on. In this study, discipline also involves teachers’ obedience to school rules and regulations by their attendance and punctuality at school, as well as to classes in order to teach their subjects.
Academic Learning Time, in this study, refers to the length of time the schools open each day as well as how efficiently time is used from the perceptions of principals, teachers and students. It also includes time devoted to homework.
Parental Involvement in their Children’s Education refers to parents' active involvement in their children's education through encouraging them, holding and expression of high expectations for the children's performance, attendance at school activities, and ensuring
that homework is done on time.
Physical Resources refer to classrooms, workshops, laboratories, libraries and computer rooms and other special rooms that are available in the schools.
Material Resources, for the purpose of this study, include equipment, tools, reagents, textbooks and the like that are available in the schools.
Education Production Function, for the purpose of this study, describes how various resources and processes are employed to transform students into educated individuals with the desired skills and knowledge.
Theoretical Framework Systems Theory
Systems theory, especially the open systems theory, was the theoretical framework for this study. This is because the education system receives its inputs from the environment (society). The end products (graduates) from the educational institutions go back to the society as employees and employers of labour. Therefore, the education system needs feedback, both positive and negative, from the environment in order to adjust itself to the needs and aspirations of the society. For example, employers of labour complain about the poor quality of education received by university graduates (Fagbamiye, 2005). On the other hand, some education experts, for example, Ijaiya (2004), say that the problem of poor quality is a result of the poor quality at the foundation levels, that is, the primary and secondary schools. It is now left for the education system to adjust in order to remain relevant.
Ejiogu (1990) describes systems as organisations or aggregation of human interests, activities and commitments, all of which function in an interrelated manner. According to Koontz, O’ Donnell and Weihrich (1987), systems can be regarded as 'closed' or 'open'. An open system exchanges information, energy, or materials with its environment such as it happens with biological (people or animals) or social (like a company) systems. A system is viewed as closed if it does not have such interactions with its environment. To Ejiogu (1997), the school and all other educational institutions are more or less open systems within the larger society. The author explains further that, as an open system, the school receives inputs such as pupils, money, materials and information from the society which it then transforms or processes into outputs (educated human beings) for the good of its members and the society at large.
If an open system is to survive, it must achieve a state in which it ingest enough inputs from its environment to offset its outputs as well as energy and materials to be used in the operation of the system. This is referred to by systems theorists as a "steady state". The steady state must constantly be in motion. Also, a system must have a dynamic equilibrium; that is, it must have feedback - an informational input that tells whether it is achieving a steady state, or not and that it is not in danger of destruction (Koontz et al., 1987). The word "reenergizing" means that some of the outputs become inputs again. In the school system, the student is regarded as an input. He is transformed into an educated product (output) who goes back into the society. The input - output model as it relates to systems theory (Koontz et al., 1987) is illustrated in Figure 1.
The concept of production function is also appropriate to this study, because students’ performance is a function of principals’ quality, teachers’ quality, supervision mechanisms, discipline process, academic learning time, parental involvement in their children’s education, and physical and material resources as hypothesized in this study. Education production function is a mathematical description of the relationship between the dependent and the independent variables; while systems theory describes the interaction of various variables in the society such as funding, governments’ and proprietors’ commitment to the education programmes, and society’s objectives for education. Understanding and making positive use of this interaction by those who run the schools is very crucial if they want to achieve good quality education.
Re-energizing the system
ImageFigure 1 – Input – output Model
Source: Koontz, H. O’ Donnell, C. & Weihrich, H. (1987).
Management. Singapore: Mac Graw Hill Book Company (p. 18).
Koontz, O’Donnell and Weihrich (1987) illustrate concisely the input-output model without including feedback. The input process – output model of this current research in Figure 2 is more comprehensive and it includes evaluation and feedback. The schools receive human
and material resources and funds from the environment, that is, the government/proprietors. Government’s/proprietors’ total commitment to the educational programmes is very crucial. Inputs consist of human resources in terms of principals’ quality, teachers’ quality, and physical and material resources. Process refers to effective and efficient teaching, and learning. This is determined by quality supervision mechanisms, discipline process, efficient use of school time and efficient utilization of teachers and parental involvement. All the inputs and processes should give quality outcome in terms of educated school leavers with the relevant and functional knowledge and skills measured through the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) results. The ultimate aim is to produce as many good quality students as possible for entry into higher institutions of learning and the labour market. The input – output model of Koontz et al. was adapted and modified to reflect the input, process and output variables of the current research and also to show that evaluation and feedback are very crucial in the internal efficiency of schools..