Factors that influence girls perfomance in science subjects in Nairobi provincial public secondary schools
Gichura, Salome Wanjiku
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The study was to identify factors that affect the performance of girls in Sciences. To achieve this, it sought answers to the following problem questions. What is; (i) the attitude of girls towards the study of sciences (ii) the role of science teachers in enhancing girls interest in the study of science (iii) the role and impact of career guidance teachers in the performance of girls in sciences (iv) the role of the headteacher in influencing the study of science amongst girls (v) impact of science facilities in the study of sciences and (vi) the extent to which parents influence girls the performance of sciences. The research was conducted in Nairobi Province and nine career guidance teachers drawn from ten public girls secondary schools. Data was collected through questionnaire which were administered to the students and teachers. Interviews were also used to collect information from the students, headteachers and the career guidance teachers. Information about parents was gathered through the instruments that were administered to the students and headteachers. Data Collected was analysed and tables reflecting the frequencies and percentages drawn so as to arrive at conclusions in accordance with the purpose of the study. The findings revealed that there is need for focused and targeted attention to assist girls in their study of sciences. Specifically it was found out that: i. The attitude of girls towards the sciences is negative. The majority studied science only because it was compulsory. Poor teaching methods, lack of role models in sciences and lack of encouragement from home affected their attitude towards the learning of sciences. However, if teachers are motivated, career guidance strengthened, science facilities are provided and peer learning in sciences is encouraged, this could positively change the attitude of girls towards sciences. ii. Science teachers in all the schools were well qualified both academically and professionally. However, more than half had not been in-serviced since the introduction of the 8-4-4 System of Education, which required new approaches to the teaching, and learning of science. For those teachers who had been in -serviced they were able to make and use teaching aids and also use classroom practice that were gender friendly to simplify science to girls and relate science to the girls real world. iii. There was also the need for the role models at the school level and in science-related careers. Teachers still made use of the traditional teaching methods that are teacher centered as opposed to student centered approach that fives the students the opportunity to participate in classroom activities. iv. Although career guidance teachers understood their role, they were limited in performing their duties because they lacked skills and time since they had a full teaching load. However, girls who had interacted with effective career guidance teachers said this had motivated them in their pursuit of science related careers. Career guidance is also introduced too late in form IV to have any meaningful impact. Career guidance also left to the career guidance teacher only, where as, it should be more encompassing. v. The headteachers' role is to marshal both human and non-human resources for the teaching of sciences. He should also motivate his resources for the teaching of sciences. He should also motivate his teachers professional programmes within the school that contribute to the teacher professional development. The need for the headteacher to establish a positive teaching and learning environment for sciences was emphasized. For the headteacher to do this, he needed to be gender sensitised. vi. Teaching and learning facilities for science were found to be inadequate in half of the girls schools and therefore girls did not have the opportunity to practically learn science which could have built confidence in sciences. Due to the large classes, it was not possible for girls to have adequate laboratory time to practice science concepts. Majority of the science clubs in schools were there only by name, but were not equipped to allow girls to carry out science related activities so as to enhance their interest in sciences. It was finally found out that parental influence was important in influencing the participation of girls in sciences. It was therefore recommended that headteachers and teachers should be sensitised and trained so as to equip them with skills for assisting girls to cope with the sciences. Studies with a deliberate intent on teaching/learning methodologies that would enhance girls performance in sciences should be undertaken, supported and implemented. Curriculum at both the primary and secondary school level should, as possibly is gender sensitive so that when students progress to secondary school they are not already biased as to the masculine and feminine roles. The need for parents, teachers, headteachers and the girls themselves to be sensitized so as to overcome cultural barriers and tread boys and girls alike was recommended. Deliberate initiatives by women in sciences in important as well as provision of facilities and equipment for teaching sciences in girls schools. It is recommended that further studies be conducted to focus on areas that were not addressed in this study. Impact of practical science based teaching in Primary schools and its effect on further learning of sciences at secondary school needs to be established. Further, a comparative study on the performance of girls in science between urban and rural based schools should be undertaken. It is also important to establish the impact of the policy which makes science compulsory for all students and how it effects the performance of sciences amongst girls.