Impact of strengthening of mathematics and science in secondary education programme on the teaching and learning of Physics in mixed day secondary schools in Lari District, Central province, Kenya
Kahare, Margaret Wanja
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This study focused on the impact of the Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE) programme on the teaching and learning of Physics in Mixed Day Schools in Lari District of Central Province. The SMASSE programme is a joint venture between Kenya government represented by the Ministry of Education and the government of Japan through Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It came into being in 1998 when the constantly poor performance in Mathematics and science (Physics, Biology and Chemistry) became a matter of serious concern. Broad curriculum, lack of facilities and inadequate staffing were always cited as the major causes of the failure. However, from the baseline studies conducted in the initial nine pilot districts, it emerged that other factors like students' and teachers' attitude, poor teaching strategies, poor mastery of content by the teachers alongside poor utilization of available resources hinder effective teaching and learning of mathematics and science. An INSET for science and mathematics teachers was established during the pilot phase in 1998 in nine pilot districts (Kajiado, Gucha, Kakamega, Lugan, Butere-Mumias, Kisii, Muranga and Makueni) and later spread to all other districts in 2003. The study established the impact of SMASSE on teacher/student attitudes towards Physics, teaching and learning of Physics and established any constraint that the programme may be experiencing. The researcher used descriptive survey research method to collect data in Mixed Day schools. The study targeted 12 head teachers, 16 Physics teachers and 360 Physics students. Simple random sampling was used to select 12 schools which accounted for 54% of the population. The administrators and physics teachers were purposively selected from the schools in the sample. The students made up 12% of the population were systematically sampled for study. Three instruments were used. An interview schedule for administrators, questionnaires for teachers and students and an observation guide for lessons. Data collected was organized then analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Findings from the study showed that SMASSE has had an impact on the teaching and learning of physics. There is a positive attitude among majority of the physics teachers towards teaching physics. Similarly, majority of the students have a positive attitude towards learning physics. The physics teachers involve the students during physics lessons in activities such as question/answer, group discussions and experiments. In addition, the students' physics performance in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) has improved and student enrolment in physics has increased. However, it was noted that only a few teachers improvise, evaluates the lessons and use Activities-focused, Students-centered learning with Experiments and Improvisation (ASEI) lesson plans. High workloads, lack of sufficient facilities and teachers' negative attitude towards SMASSE were the main challenges that affect successful implementation of SMASSE programme The study gave various recommendations to address the challenges.