Absenteeism costing Abura-Asebu schools

CharlesLATENESS and absenteeism of  pupils in the Abura- Asebu- Kwamankese (AAK) District of the Central Region have been identified as the cause of the abysmal academic performance of the district.

According to a 2012 research, conducted by the Department of Educational Foundations of the University of Cape Coast, 90 per cent of pupils from low achieving schools in the district absented themselves from school as compared to 33.3 per cent of pupils in high achieving schools.

It was also found out that 80 per cent of pupils in the low achieving schools reported to school late as compared to 33.3 per cent from the high achieving schools.

The purpose of the study, which was on the topic “Causes of low academic performance of the Junior High School pupils in the Abura Asebu Kwamankese District of the Central Region of Ghana”, was to identify factors responsible for the poor performance of schools in that district.

Presenting the findings of the research at a forum at Abura Dunkwa, Mrs. Sylvia Ocansey, a lecturer at the department, said it decided to conduct the research following the district’s poor scoring in the Basic Examination Certificate Examination (BECE) results

She said the district had persistently performed poorly at the BECE with 40.5 per cent passes in 2008, 31.8 per cent passes in 2009 and 37.8 per cent passes in 2010.

The research conducted in collaboration with the AAK District Education Directorate, sampled 16 junior high schools, comprising 10 low achieving and six high achieving schools, based on the BECE results from 2008 to 2011.

Persons interviewed included head teachers, teachers, pupils, parents and circuit supervisors, while a number of factors relating to them and the school environment were considered.

Other pupil factors identified were  that pupils from low achieving schools did not  complete their homework as compared to their other colleagues  because they did not have much help with studies at school and with homework as those in the high achieving schools.

On the teacher factor, it was found out that more teachers in the high achieving schools completed the previous year’s English, Mathematics and Science syllabi than teachers in the low achieving schools.

It was also found that instructional periods at lower achieving schools were not used effectively coupled with the fact that most teachers in such schools were more committed to their distance learning programmes than they were to teaching in the classroom.

Non provision of breakfast, text books, low interaction with teachers and limited involvement in Parent Teacher Association meetings were some of the parent factors considered through the study.

On the school environment, it came to light that lack or poor infrastructure such as school buildings, staff room, inadequate supply of water and poor conditions were the obstacles against low achieving schools.

The study, consequently, recommended that appropriate disciplinary measures be set up in the schools to check lateness and absenteeism, while policies should be made to prevent students who boycotted classes frequently after the BECE registration, from writing the exams.

It also recommend that circuit supervisors visit schools more regularly to ensure that teachers, among other duties, completed all topics required in the curricular and syllabi for examinable subjects before pupils sat for the BECE.

It also recommended that education officers and district assemblies should organise regular sensitisation meetings and community nonformal education classes to inform parents about the value of education.

It also recommended that the district assembly and education office should come out with a clear policy  on teachers and distance learning in schools as the activity was conflicting with their interest in school.

Distractions in the instructional time should be avoided and the time used efficiently while pupils should be given homework regularly and monitored.

Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah, Head of Education Department, College of Distance Education, who chaired the forum, stated that inasmuch as it was necessary for teachers to upgrade themselves through the distance education programmes, under no circumstance should it be done at the expense of pupils.

He stated that it was the responsibility of supervisors and headmasters to ensure that teachers stayed in the classroom all the time, adding that it was about time they performed such responsibilities more effectively.

He advised teachers to manage their times well in order to pursue their academic interest while effectively doing the work for which they were paid.  “If we can help children, we should do so in their early stages.”

He asked parents to spend more time with their children instead of shirking their responsibilities and leaving the whole work on teachers, saying that, “A lot can be  achieved if   we work together.”

The District Director of Education, Mrs. Helpina Adams acknowledged that the academic performance in the district was not encouraging, but said the directorate in collaboration with its stakeholders was putting in extra efforts to improve the situation.

She said it was through such efforts that the district scored a 78.3 per cent in the recent BECE, which was an improvement over the previous years’ performance and stated that efforts were being made to improve upon the result.—GNA

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