June 3, 2008
Teachers’ Perception and Perceived Contributions Towards the Success of the Universal Basic Education (Ube) Programme
By Okecha, Rita Ebele
Grassroots education is imperative if economic development is to be actualized. Therefore, it becomes necessary to study the primary school teachers' perception of the Universal Basic Education (UBE). This study attempted to find out the primary school teachers' perception of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme and their perceived contribution towards the success of the programme. It further examined how favorable perception towards the scheme could be a catalyst in the successful implementation of the UBE. To accomplish this task, two research questions and a hypothesis were raised to guide the study. The opinion of one hundred and eighteen (118) teachers, out of four hundred and forty-seven teachers (447) that constituted the population of the teachers in Esan West Public Primary Schools was obtained. The respondents were randomly selected. The questionnaire was used for data collection. A 1-4 Likert-type scale ranging from Strongly Agreed to Strongly Disagreed was used to score the responses of the subjects. The data collected were analyzed using percentages, means, standard deviation and chi- square (X2). A significant difference existed among primary school teachers in their perception and operation of the UBE scheme.
The result revealed that 58% of the respondents had favorable perception of the UBE programme. And since perception affects our attitude towards a programme, this positive response will go a long way in enhancing the implementation of the UBE scheme, which invariably will contribute immensely to economic growth and national development.
Education lies somewhere in between pure public goods and pure private goods. Though education could be financed privately and even provided privately, not all the benefits of educations could be confined to those who paid for it and it is not possible to exclude the less educated from the various spillovers generated by the more educated (Ndagi, 1977). Education is regarded as quasi-public good.
Usually, there are budget cuts and we are given less to spend and each naira is buying less educational goods and services because of inflation. A process of tackling the economic problems of development would entail a political development - a development in the way power is distributed in the region, in what institutions have, what functions and how community participates in the entire process. As Dr. Kwame Nkruma's dictum asserts "seek ye first the political kingdom and all others will be added unto it".
Education is a basic necessity for good life, economic development and natural development. Globalising world economy is a farce until education is globalized. It has been observed in many quarters that no nation could become stable, prosperous or achieve a sustainable development and enduring democratic rule without an educational citizenry.
Each year, about 130 million primaryschool-age children are denied access to education. Two-thirds of them are girls (UNICEF, 1999). More than 150 million children start primary school but drop out of school before they have completed five years of education (UNICEF, 1999). It is estimated that one in five individuals in the developing world will still be illiterate in 2010 (UNESCO, 1997). Less than two percent of children with disabilities in developing countries are included in formal education (Walkins, 2000).
From the foregoing, it is quite clear that there is a global campaign for education. It has been observed that there is no universally accepted definition for the word "education" right from Plato to the present day. The definition varies according to the individual perception of life or his sociopolitical and the culture of the community. Nevertheless, there are components of education, which are common to all societies and cultures. Based on the above observations, education has been defined in many ways.
Ehiametalor (1985) defines education "as the acquisition of knowledge, the aggregate of all processes through which a person develops ability, skills, attitudes and other forms of behaviour with posilive value in the society in which he lives". Majasan (1995) sees education as a life long process, which enhances the individual's quality of life, builds up his personality and enables him to contribute effectively to the development of his society at any stage of his life career. Dewey (1924) defines education as:
A process of fostering, nurturing, cultivating a process. All these words mean that it implies attention to the condition of growth. We also speak of rearing, raising, bringing upwards which express the different levels which education aims to cover. Etymologically, the word education means just a process of leading or bringing up. When we have the outcome of the process in mind, we speak of education as shaping, forming, molding activity - that is shaping into the standard form of social activity.
Education, therefore, entails more than acquisition of knowledge, it is the aggregate of one's ability, skills, attitudes, values, perception and acceptable pattern of behaviour by the society. Apart from parents who are involved in the process of moulding of the child, the teachers have important roles to play.
THE CONCEPT OF A TEACHER
Awanbor (1998) sees a teacher as an individual who has the trained skill of arranging the variables of formal instructional environment to bring about desirable change in the behaviour of the other person. The teacher can be seen as a "catalyst" that brings about changes in the behaviour of other person. The teacher plays many roles. He is all in all: a scientist, a social scientist, a social engineer, a counselor, a mentor, a preceptor, a born builder, an inspirer, a guide and a rudder, a motivator, a model, an academic, a professor, a pedagogue, a school master and a school mistress, a father and a mother, a relation and a confidant and above all a person (Awanbor, 1998:5). The society should recognize that a teacher is a person. One is quick to assume that this may have prompted Feldman (2002), the President of American Federation of Teachers, to say "Teachers... need to be treated more like other professional and less like glorified babysitters". It has been observed that the happiness and success of individuals as well as the progress and stability of society have always depended, in large measure on the quality of teaching and learning process. Teachers are the main actors in education sector.
Nigeria is aware of the role of education in sustaining democracy and national development hence the national policy states that education will continue to be highly rated in the national development plans because education is the most important instrument of change, as any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society has to be preceded by educational revolution (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1981:7).
In 1995, the United Nations declared education as a veritable instrument for growth, development and survival. This is true because the Nigerian government relies on the supply of graduates of Nigerian universities for manpower sector of the nation. Furthermore, in line with the United Nations Declaration of Compulsory Primary Education in 1948, Nigeria adopted the Universal Primary Education in 1976 when General Olusegun Obasanjo was the Head of the Federal Military Government. In 1999, the civilian government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE).
The universalization of basic education was in line with the objective of the International Literacy Year and the World Conference on Education for all held at Jomtien, Thailand in 1990. This led to increase awareness and support for literacy effort. International Consultative Forum of Education For All was entrusted with the task of monitoring the progress towards education for all and to promote consultation and co-operation at the global level (website). In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) was convened in Jomtien, Thailand by World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP. The conference brought together some 15,000 people representing 155 governments, 33 intergovernmental bodies, 125 non- governmental organizations (NGOs), Institutes and Foundations. The conference was organized in response to the widespread concern over the deterioration of education systems during the 1980s. The conference concluded with unanimous adoption of the "World Declaration" on "Education for All" and endorsed a "Framework for Action to meet Basic Learning Need". The World Education Forum took place in April 2000, delegates from 150 countries came together in Dakar, Senegal. They made commitment to the achievement of education for all, for every citizen and every society. All children, young people and adults have the human right to benefit from an education that will meet the basic learning needs (DESA, 2000).
Basic education involves literacy, numeracy, and life skills. Life skills such as decision-making, problem solving, critical thinking and effective communication. It also enables individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Basic education improves the quality of life of the individual.
Basic Education Basic education has a direct effect on family, health, reduces high mortality rate, enriches the life of the individual, empowers the individual socially and economically, makes him responsible citizen who promotes economic and social development of his community and make him committed to the democracy, peace and social justice. Having weighed the advantages the individuals stand to gain by being educated, primary education should be made available to all.
Education for All
In the Education for All 2000 assessment, conducted in preparation for the Dakar Forum, some revelations were made in the data collected. Analysis of the assessment revealed the following findings: Primary education has not been accessible to all. Convention on the rights of the child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that primary education should be compulsory and free for all. Many countries are reviewing and reforming education financing to produce a more equitable and sustainable sharing of resources. Countries are also working hard to remove obstacles such as inadequate infrastructure for people with disabilities and availability of learning materials in mother-languages.
The Education For All (EFA) target for primary-school-age students is a net enrollment rate of 100 percent by 2015. Gender differences in the rate should disappear by 2005.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Access to education entails more than just enrolling children in school. Access to education is not all that matters. The quality of education is an essential ingredient in successful implementation of UBE. The Nigerian education system is bedeviled with litany of problems: teachers' low morale, non-payment of teachers salaries resulting in incessant strikes, poor funding of schools and political instability which account for non-implementation of educational policies.
Some teachers are of the view that the UBE is only paper work and that it has not taken off. Some have complained that the resources - physical, human and financial resources - are not available for the implementation of the scheme. Sustaining UBE requires well-trained teachers who are committed to the cause of education. For no nation can rise above the quality of its teachers (Bamanja, 2000). The UBE scheme cannot be discussed in isolation without the teacher, the agent of transmission of education. Awanbor (1998) sees a teacher as an individual who has the trained skills of arranging the variables of formal institutional environment in order to bring about desirable change in the behaviour of the other person. The teacher can be seen as a "catalyst" that brings about changes in the behaviour of the other person.
The quality of teachers affects students' performance. This is affirmed in a related study cited by Alli (1992). In Uganda, Heyneman (1976) tried to find out the relationship between certain teachers' characteristics and pupil cognitive achievement (test scores). At .001 level of significance, he found that there was a positive relationship between teachers' competence in spoken English and pupil cognitive achievement.
It is against this background that the researcher feels that there is a need to ascertain the perception of teachers towards the UBE scheme. If their perception of the scheme is favorable, then there is every likelihood that the scheme will withstand the test of time. This will in no small measure contribute to the success of the programme. The success of the universal basic education will invariably contribute to economic growth and national development. In order to ascertain how this can be achieved, two research questions were raised.
The researcher hopes to find answers to the following questions:
1. How do the primary school teachers perceive the UBE scheme in Esan West Local Government?
2. What effect does the primary school teachers' perception of the UBE have on successful implementation of the programme?
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The study is aimed at ascertaining the primary school teachers' perception towards the UBE scheme. The study focuses on finding out how the teachers are disposed towards the UBE. It is believed that the findings from this study will be of immense value to education planners, since there are few works on UBE and this will add to the growing literature on the scheme. The UBE is a global issue and this type of study will form a basis for policy formulation. The UBE is a new programme in Nigeria and this study will assist the policy makers at the Ministry of Education, National Primary Education Commission (NPEC), the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA).
In order to give focus to the study, a hypothesis was postulated.
Ho: There is no significant difference in perception among primary school teachers on the operation and status of the UBE scheme.
This study was carried out on one hundred and eighteen (118) primary school teachers in Esan West Local Government. This represents 20% of 447 teachers in Esan West Local Government. Nwana (1982) suggests that in a population of many hundreds, a 20% is a good representative.
The one hundred and eighteen (118) teachers were randomly selected through balloting. They comprised thirty-six (36) male teachers and eighty-two (82) female teachers. Twenty (20) teachers who were not part of the above number were used to determine the reliability of the instrument.
A questionnaire designed by the researcher was the instrument used for this study. It was titled Teachers' Perception of the Universal Basic Education (UBE): A Catalyst in Successful Implementation of the Scheme. The questionnaire was divided into two sections. Section A sought personal information about the respondents while Section B focused on items designed to elicit responses that were used to achieve the objective of the study and answer the researcher's questions. The respondents were required to respond to twenty three (23) items indicating whether they:
4 Strongly Agreed - SA
3 Agreed - A
2 Disagreed - D
1 Strongly Disagreed - SD
The items were generated from reviewed literature on Universal Basic Education Scheme.
VALIDITY OF THE INSTRUMENT
The instrument was given to the experts in the field of educational research at the Institute of Education, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. Based on their suggestions, some items were deleted while others were reworded. The validated version was used for the study.
RELIABILITY OF THE INSTRUMENT
To determine the reliability of the instrument, a split-half method was employed. The responses of twenty (20) randomly selected teachers were used. These respondents did not constitute part of the sample that was used for the final study. The scores from the 20 teachers were obtained and correlated using Pearson Product Moment Co-efficient. The result showed a correlation co-efficient of 0.59. A correlation co-efficient of 0.40 to 0.60 is good (Itsuokor, 1986: 28).
The data obtained was analysed through the use of mean ratings and standard deviation scores. The researcher considered mean score of 2.50 and above as "agreed" while mean scores below 2.50 were regarded as "disagreed". The Chi - square (X^sup 2^) statistical test was used to test the null hypothesis formulated for the study. The data analysis is indicated below.
The data reported on table 1 showed that item 1-3, 5-6, 8, 10, 11, 15 and 16 have acceptance mean score ranging from 2.5 to 4.4. From the perceptual indices, primary school teachers were of the opinion that UBE would eradicate illiteracy, mould the child's character, lay solid foundation for sustaining life. In addition, the scheme would ensure self-realization in early childhood education, and if well pursued and implemented, would change the moral tone of the Nigerian society. The primary school teachers asserted that for UBE to succeed, the teacher factor as an integral part of the process must be well addressed. However, they opined that parents and guardians have not been well-prepared for the programme.
This is contrary to the observation made by Obanya (2000) when ascertaining the preparedness for the UBE programme noted that in some villages, village heads went from house to house, while in others, teachers went from village to village encouraging the pupils to come and register for the programme. The following items 4, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 had mean scores below the acceptance mean of 2.50. Their means ranged from 0.5 - 2.3. The teachers disagreed that UBE provided equal opportunity for all and that it did not cater for all categories of children (the nomadic, dropouts, the disabled, the handicapped and the adult illiterates). The teachers seemed to agree that the programme was free. They did not agree with the researcher that the parents and guardians did not want to send their children to school because of the services their wards offered to them. In the same vein, they disagreed that poverty and unemployment were significant factors that prevented the guardians and parents from sending their wards to school. The teachers disagreed that the schools have adequate infrastructure and facilities, and new curriculum for teaching. They disagreed that the stakeholders met with schools to discuss the UBE. This assertion was re-echoed by Thahir (2003), the UBE National Co-ordinator, when he said that there were no awareness and non-involvement at the grassroots. This observation was made at the inauguration of a Technical Working Committee on Social Mobilization of the UBE programme. The calculated X^sup 2^ showed that significant difference existed among the primary school teachers in their perception of the operation and the status of the UBE scheme.
The findings from this study have revealed that primary schools teachers are favourably disposed towards the Universal Basic Education. This is an important factor in the successful implementation of the scheme because favorable perception by the actors of the programme is a step in the right direction. As Pervin (1968 in Ihenaco, 2000) rightly hypothesized that high performance and satisfaction were related to the way the individual perceives environment. Individuals tend to perceive according to their interest and values. Since perception is the foundation of all conception formation and learning, its importance should be realized in all teaching and learning activities (Mukerjee, 1978). However, the teachers agreed that lack of infrastructural facilities and inadequate teaching staff would hinder the UBE scheme from attaining desired results. This observation was confirmed by Bamanja (2000 and Sulaiman 2001). Sulaiman's (2001) findings revealed that the existing physical facilities (classroom, furniture, school fields, compounds, fencing walls, libraries, health care facilities and toilets) were inadequate for UBE and Early Childhood Education. The study further revealed that instructional materials and competent teachers were inadequate for the total implementation of the UBE programme in Local Government Areas of Ogun State.
Similarly, Okoye and Nnadi (2000) asserted that only few qualified business studies teachers were well-equipped to implement the UBE scheme. This was revealed in their study on UBE and the implications for Business Education Teachers. The study also revealed that many unqualified teachers teach Business Studies in the secondary schools in Rivers State.
The implications of the findings are obvious. The teachers are favourably disposed towards the Universal Basic Education Programme. And since perception influences our attitude towards a programme, this will go a long way in enhancing the implementation of the UBE scheme. However, the teachers have also pointed out that in as much as they considered the UBE as a laudable programme, a lot more needed to be done in funding and provision of instructional materials.
* Since teachers rate UBE highly, intensive social mobilization is imperative at this stage of the UBE programme. This will assist the scheme at the grassroots level.
* The non-governmental bodies should assist in the campaign on the usefulness of the UBE and should also aid the government financially.
* There should be an education summit in which all the UBE stakeholders partake. This would widen the campaign horizon and commit the stakeholders to this noble cause.
* More seminars and workshops should be organized for the teachers who are the facilitators of the UBE scheme in order to enrich their knowledge on the scheme.
* More research works should be done on the UBE especially in the areas of the financing and implementation, for this will assist the policy makers in evaluating the programme. More work on girl-child enrollment should be done too.
* It is true that teachers constituted 40% of the 250 participants at the mini-summit held from 29th November to 1st December 1999, more teachers should be involved at every planning stage of the UBE programme. Teachers should constitute at least 50% of the participants, for the more knowledge they acquire, the better their quality of teaching and commitment.
* The number of teachers (40%) who participated at the local and state level policy dialogue of April and May 2000 was inadequate. More teachers and all the stakeholders should be encouraged to participate in almost every discussion on the scheme. No sacrifice is too great for the UBE scheme, all efforts should be geared towards ensuring that it succeeds, since it is asserted that education for all is the responsibility of all of us.
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RITA EBELE OKECHA, PH .D.
Institute of Education
Ambrose Alli University
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