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ASSESSMENT OF IMPACTS OF LONG DISTANCE TO SCHOOL ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS

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ASSESSMENT OF IMPACTS OF LONG DISTANCE TO SCHOOL ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

 

 

  • General Introduction

 

This introductory chapter provides background information, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, and research objectives. The chapter also presents research questions, scope of the study and significance of the study. Furthermore, the chapter gives a conceptual framework, definitions of key terms used in the study and organization of the study.

 

 

                        Background to the Problem

 

Demand for secondary education (SE) is growing as more countries progress towards attaining Universal Primary Education (UPE). In 2005, about 512 million students were enrolled in secondary schools worldwide, making an increase of more than 73 million from 1999 (UNESCO, 2007). Similar increase in secondary school enrolment has occurred in Tanzania from (2000) to (2011) as observed by Mbiti (2009).

 

 

The rapid expansion of secondary schools in Tanzania has been a result of increased social demand for Secondary Education brought about by the implementation of Universal Primary Education declared in the 1970s and later on the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP) of 2002 (Ministry of Education and Culture- MOEC, 2004). The expansion of primary education (PE) have created demand for post-PE which calls for adequate supply of teachers and adequate secondary schools` learning environment as an increased incentive to complete primary school (UNICEF,  2006). To  address the need for access  and completion of  Secondary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education, consideration of the location of community secondary schools was not given prior critical concern in some regions in Tanzania and in Makambako in particular. Establishment of secondary schools did not consider factors which could contribute to high quality education for improved academic performance particularly traveling distance of learners and teachers to and from their schools.

 

 

 

Expanding enrolment through increased schools close to the people has been a great step towards universalizing education as the eligible students would access schools and participate in all the planned school activities. Location of secondary schools in different countries is widely dispersed from the students‘ homesteads. As a result, longer walking or travelling distance from home to school/college has mostly impacted school students particularly girls (Subrahmanian, 2003).

 

 

 

Furthermore, in the assessment of effect of travelling distance among students in community secondary schools in relation to the quality of education by Galabawa and Lwaitama (2008) revealed that most of the students arrived at school late, tired and lost interest in leaning and hence, poor academic performance. Access to quality Secondary Education is essential for developing active workforce for socio- economic development. To achieve the high quality workforce, involvement of educational stakeholders deems appropriate. In this regard, academic performance of secondary school learners at Makambako Town Council-depends heavily on stakeholders‘ (local development activists and policy makers) involvement in improving the quality of learning environment including the location of the school. Location is defined as the environmental condition around a school, which could be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

urban or rural (Ezike, 1997). No its context (urban or rural), the location of the school has been found to be crucial to students` performance in their examinations.

 

 

Raychaudhuri, Debnath, Sen and Majumder (2010) report a positive relationship that exists between school location (closer distance to homesteads) and students‘ academic performance as they attend school regularly. Emore (2005) shares that distance to school together with school discipline; family background and school location caused truancy (attendance irregularity) among school students. Distance in association with location of the school seems to be one of the strong influencing origins for the academic performance among students. This was evidenced as well by Obemeata (1995) and Obayan (2003) who confirmed that school physical environment exerts dominant influence on students‘ academic performance.

 

 

Most of the ward or commonly known as community secondary schools in Tanzania were built through decentralization strategy which transferred decision making authority from higher authorities to the community members. The strategy mandated local authorities to decide about the location at which a new school was to be built. Following such mandate, most of the newly established schools were located far away from the vicinity of the community. Though political influences interfered with the decision of locating a given school/college (Hanson, 2003), such political interests aimed at gaining political popularity from the community members without considering other factors for secondary schools‘ location.

 

 

Long distance has opposing results among researchers on academic performance. It is commonly argued that longer distance to school reduces the ability of learners to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

focus their attention in studies due to long walks or getting to class late. In some cases, because of traveling long distances without assured transport, students are trapped into unhealthy sexual behaviors which could not have been triggered if they walked reasonable distances to and from school. For example, it is common to hear girl students reported to be pregnant in most of the community schools because of living in a rented houses locally known a “maghetto”. This study presents some schools in Makambako Town Council, their distances from the village centre as well as their national examination results. Table 1.1 illustrates five schools and their estimated distances from the village centers.

 

 

School Distance Year Performance in division Regional National rank
                   
Mukilima 05km 2011 01 03 04 62 102 124/188 1874/3198
    2012 01 05 07 58 94 74/207 966/3396
    2013 02 03 21 42 80 50/81 1756/3256
Kipagano 6.5km 2011
    2012 03 04 54 101 132/207 1432/3396
    2013 01 05 06 37 66 60/81 20067/3256
Lyamkena 05km 2011
    2012
    2013 03 06 25 73 43 26/81 883/3256
Maguvani 07km 2011 0 01 07 58 94 130/188 1911/3108
    2012 0 0 03 22 110 199/207 2817/3396
    2013 0 0 08 38 45 67/81 2214/3256
 

Makambako

 

01km

 

2011

 

12

 

29

 

17

 

 

 

 
    2012 08 25 23  
    2013 22 27  

 

Table 1.1: Locations of Community Secondary Schools in Makambako TC and Academic Performance

 

 

I        II      III     IV      Fail

rank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: National Examination Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1.1 shows that community secondary schools which are located closer to the residential areas, performed well compared to their distant counterparts. Specifically, Maguvani secondary school attained poor results than other community school. This could be due to the long distance, which students have to cover to reach the school which is longer than other schools. In this school, most of the students use bicycles as means of transport. In addition, because of longer walking distance, some students at Maguvani secondary school have dropped out of school as use of bicycles made them tired thereby, losing an opportunity to sit for their Form four national examinations. The opposite was true for Makamabako secondary school where most of students were staying at school and they were doing well in the National Examinations. This situation prompted the researcher to look for a scientific explanation with regard to students‘ massive failure.

 

 

                        Statement of the Problem

 

There are several efforts which have been implemented to ensure SE offers quality learning outcomes. Such efforts include the establishments of the Tanzania Education and Training policies of 1995 and that of 2014 (Ministry of Education and Culture-MOEC, 1995; MOEVT, 2014) to guide educational provision at all levels, the Education Sector Development Programs for 2010-2015 (MOEVT, 2010) and other policy-related guidelines.

 

 

However, performance of some community secondary schools in the National Examinations has remained to be low in Makambako TC. This raised some questions for their poor performance in relation to their location and hence, this study. Investigation was deemed appropriate, as without it, schools would continue the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

same without improvement in the students‘ performance while jeopardizing national efforts geared at having skilled and competent citizens.

 

 

 

                        General and Specific Objectives of the Study

 

This study explored the relationship between school location and learners‘ academic performance in community secondary schools in Makambako Town Council. To achieve the purpose of this study, four specific study objectives guided the process:

  • To investigate  the  extent  to  which  school  location  affects  the  academic achievement of secondary school students in Makambako TC,
  • To find out factors that determined location of community secondary schools in Makambako TC,
  • To determine conditions used to allocate pupils to secondary schools, and

 

  • Appropriate strategies to improve secondary school students` performance.

 

 

 

 

                        Research Questions

 

The following four research questions were used by this study. Such questions were;

 

  • To what extent does school location affect students‘ academic performance in community secondary schools in Makambako TC?
  • Which factors  determine  the  location  of  community  secondary  schools  in Makambako TC?
  • Which conditions are used to allocate students to their respective secondary schools?
  • What strategies  should  be  used  to  improve  secondary  school  students‘ academic performance in Makambako TC?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        Significance of the Study

 

This study provides information to planners, policy makers, teachers, parents and community members about the importance of appropriate location of the community secondary schools on learners‘ academic performance. Therefore, findings are appropriate in future planning and practice in building new secondary schools on proper strategies to institute better learning environment. Further, as long as school location was likely to affect academic performance of the learners, the findings open new avenues for future studies in different community secondary schools.

 

 

 

                        Scope, Delimitation and Limitations of the Study

 

This study was delimited to only five community secondary schools (Maguvani, Kipagamo, Mukilima, Makambako and Lyamkena) in Makambako TC. Through these schools, students and teachers who participated in this study were drawn. Generalization of the study findings is limited to community secondary schools found in Makambako TC and any other schools with similar conditions. The other limitation of this study was that time and funds for conducting intensive and extensive fieldwork were limited. This was the major reason that only five schools were involved in the study. Also due to time limitation, the study did not involve other educational stakeholders for which generalization is also limited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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