Factors that influence girls' performance in mathematics in Kisumu city public secondary schools
Onyango, Julius Albert
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The study was to identify factors that influence girl's performance in mathematics. To achieve this, it sought answers to the following problem questions. What is: i) Attitude of girls towards the study of mathematics ii) The role of mathematics and career guidance teachers in influencing girls performance in mathematics iii) The extent to which parents influence girls performance in mathematics iv) The role of the head teacher in enhancing girls performance in mathematics v) The impact of teaching learning resources in mathematics and finally to recommend solutions which may improve the performance of mathematics The research was conducted in Kisumu city and involved one hundred and twenty female students, twenty mathematics teachers, ten career guidance teachers and ten head teachers drawn from ten public secondary schools in Kisumu city. Data was collected through questionnaires, which were administered to students and teachers. Interviews were also used to collect information from head teachers and career guidance teachers. Information about parents was gathered through the instruments, which were administered to students, teachers and head teachers. Data collected was analyzed and tables reflecting frequency and percentages drawn so as to arrive at conclusions in accordance with the purpose of the study. The findings revealed that policies alone without adequate supporting programmes couldn't be expected to increase participation of girls in mathematics. There is need to assist girls in the study of mathematics. Specifically it was found out that: i) The attitude of girls in mathematics is negative. Poor teaching methods, lack of teaching resources and none existence role models hamper the teaching of mathematics. Lack of encouragement from home affected the attitude of girls to participation in the study of mathematics. However if teachers are in serviced and career guidance strengthened them, the participation of girls in mathematics can be encouraged. ii) Mathematics teachers in all school were well qualified academically and professionally. However most of them have not been in-serviced since the inception of 8-4-4 system of education, which requires new approaches to the teaching and learning of mathematics. The few teachers who have been in- serviced reported an improvement in their teaching methods. iii) Time management was identified as the reason for poor syllabus coverage in mathematics. iv) Although career guidance teachers understood their role, they were limited in performing their duties because of lack of skills, time and enough personnel. The career guidance department emphasized counseling than guidance in schools. v) The head teachers understood their roles however they did not give the necessary priority to mathematical learning and needed to be more gender sensitized. vi) Text books in the market have not been en-gendered so as to encourage girls participation in mathematics. They are also meant for above average learners. vii) Parental influence was important in influencing the participation of girls in mathematics. However they do not play their roles effectively since they are not conversant with school programmes. Finally the society still perceives mathematics to be a male domain and hence does not encourage girls' participation in mathematics. It was therefore recommended that deliberate pro-active programmes geared towards breaking down the traditional and institutional and attitudinal barriers should be initiated specifically on gendering the mathematics syllabus should be encouraged. Students, teachers and communities should be gender sensitized so as to remove the stereotyping of gender roles. Languages used in mathematics texts should be toned down to favour average learners with writers commissioned and monitored by the ministry of education and human resources. Careers and guidance departments should be well staffed by qualified personnel who should be counselors and not teaching at the same time. Mathematics teachers must be in-serviced through seminars, conferences and workshops so as to be acquainted with new trend in education. It is recommended that further studies be carried out in areas such as comparative study on the performance of girls in mathematics between day schools and boarding schools. It is also important to evaluate the policy that makes mathematics compulsory for all and how it affects the performance of girls in mathematics at Secondary school.