1.1     Background of Study

Mathematics is an aspect of science dealing with numbers. These numbers which are basic element of mathematics are abstract because these objects, which cannot be hold, felt or seen. However, lassa (1993) pointed out that mathematics is a subject which finds answer to questions. Mathematics is a subject thus, the subject of numbers or other symbols and how these numbers and symbols are related to one another.      

The field of mathematics, due to its broad nature has been divided into number of branches. These include Arithmetic’s, geometry, algebra, analytic geometry, calculus and statistics, mathematics is a compulsory subject for all students in secondary schools in Nigeria. Mathematics, a subject, dislike by many students is considered both demanding and difficult due to its abstract nature. The obstacle which thwarts proper inculcation and assimilation of some mathematical processes by teacher and students emanate from a variety of ways. Mathematics occupies a central place in the school curriculum of all level of the Nigeria school system.

Mathematics is bedrock of science and technology. No nature can hope to achieve any measure of scientific and technology advancement without proper foundation in school mathematics (Emalkwa, 1996, Iyorum, 2006). Mathematics as well as sciences provides the basic for a country social economic emancipation and they cannot be totally separated from the pace of development in any nation. Also no home can function effectively in the absence of modern day technology break through which mathematics has a hand in it. The entire world has been reduced to global village as a result of the scientific and technology principal and application of mathematics presumable for the purpose of economic survival. The ordinary citizen needs to be able to compare and estimate value for his/her provision, weight evidence and be able to improve standards of living. Despite its significance, mathematics teaching/learning especially in the secondary school has suffered a great set back. Students find themselves memorizing mathematics formula for the purpose of passing examination; students find it difficult to conceptualize the topics taught. Most at times mathematics teachers themselves show lack of interest in the teaching of mathematics in our secondary school today’s one disturbing situation is that, majority of the students find it difficult in the senior secondary school certificate examination(SSSCE) in mathematics. The problem of inadequate manpower’ backwardness of the students’ poor method of teaching, how quality of textbooks and different attitude to the teaching of mathematics by teachers or administrators account for the failure or poor performance of students in mathematics in secondary schools. There is needs to stamp out these fault from this various quarters which militate against the successful teaching of mathematics to enable the students perform well in examination, reason logically understand, use their initiatives and muster sequential practices in the discipline of mathematics.

Research shows that the effects of instructional materials, attitude of teachers and students towards the teaching and learning of mathematics and the effects of peer group on learning of mathematics contribute to students’ failure in mathematics (Briggs 1995). Though these researches are quite revealing, the problem still persist. There is need for more researches and increase implementation of recommendations.

Betiku (2003) argued that teachers are the main determinants of quality education. According to him, if they are apathetic, immoral and anti- social, the whole nation will be doomed, but if they are ignorant of their disciplines and impact wrong information, they are not only useless but dangerous. Lack of knowledge of a particular concept, qualification and negligence to teach, syllabus coverage is some of the reasons why contents in some schools are not covered. Other variables include, lack of instructional materials, public holidays which reduces school time, teachers years of experience, availability of infrastructure facilities to mention but a few. Commenting on the relevant of instructional materials to teaching and learning in classroom; Offorma (2006), observed with dismay that except for very few government schools, most of our senior secondary schools are ill-equipped in terms of instructional materials. Offorma (2006) therefore opined that instructional material must be adequately provided for and guidance and counseling services readily available for students to reduce educational casualties.

According to Assuzu (1986), Ali (1994), most of the mathematics teachers at the government owned secondary schools in Nigeria have poor qualifications and this has tremendous negative consequences on the students’ performance. Without a minimum qualification for teaching mathematics, competency of the teacher becomes a worrisome issue. This is in view of helping teachers become more competent and develop positive attitude towards syllabus coverage. Considering the fact that mathematics education is the practice of teaching and learning mathematics and the relevance of mathematics in teaching and learning of other school subjects, it becomes pertinent to carry out a study of this nature. All school subjects have their background related to mathematics in one way or the other, and mathematics is a core subject in the study of science and technology related courses in Nigeria. It is a compulsory requirement for entry into higher institutions of learning in the country. Mathematics is important and needed in all walks of life.


1.2     Statement of the Research Problem

          Mathematics as a subject though compulsory in school, but people show significant interest in it. This is the paucity of mathematics teachers in our secondary schools and it properly observe teachers have a lot of work to do to motivate and encourage students on the importance of this subject in the day to day activities.

          Lack of mathematics teachers in some secondary schools becomes an acute problem such that some persons are employed to teach the subject without having adequate knowledge and necessary skills to teach mathematics. A numbers of students show degust at the mention of the subject mathematics but unfortunately it is a core subject both at the JSS and SS level. If Nigeria intends to produce in large quantities, the manpower needed for scientific and technological development she is looking for mathematics as subject needs to be taken serious by both teachers and student in our secondary schools

          Perhaps, not much attention has been given to the performance of students in senior secondary school subjects in recent years either. This neglect, no doubt has neglected these senior subjects to the background in senior secondary school certificate examination. A close look at the 2004-2008 SSCE result records, confirms that students’ performance has been very poor generally and the increase in number of school dropouts in area of study is a clear pointer of the argument. The poor performance is caused by many factors such as; students ineffective study techniques, quality of teachers and method of teaching, the parent’s inability to provide useful materials like textbooks, exercise books and school fees and problem of inadequate instructional materials for teaching and learning of mathematics in schools.

          It is in view of these causes that this study is therefore, especially designed to assess the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State.     

1.3     Purpose of the Study

          The main purpose of this study is to find out the causes and effect of student’s failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination. The interest of the researcher is to examine critically and identify the causes and effects of student’s failure in mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination. Especially the study sought to find out if;

                 i.        There are sufficient number of qualified mathematics teachers 

               ii.         Instructional materials for teaching of mathematics.

              iii.        The teacher’s competency has effect on student’s academic performance in senior secondary school mathematics.

              iv.        The attitude and interest of students towards the nature of mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in senior secondary school mathematics.  

1.4     Research Questions;

     To carry out a detailed study on the topic, the following research questions will guide the study:-

  1. How does insufficient number of qualify teachers affect the mass failure of mathematics?
  2. To what extent does the negative attitude of students influence mathematics achievement?
  3.  How instrumental is instructional material to students’ performance in mathematics?
  4. Does teacher’s incompetency affects students’ academic performance in mathematics?


1.5     Hypothesis:

:  Teaching methods do have a significant effect on                     mathematics failure in senior secondary schools.

:  Teaching method of mathematics teachers do goes a long way of affecting student’s performance in mathematics.


1.6     Significance of the Study

          It is hope that the outcome of this study will be of immense benefits, some of which are emulated below;

          The study will serve as a resource material to be used by mathematics teachers in senior secondary schools in Makurdi Local Government Area of Beune State. It will also help the curriculum planners, developers and implementers or a review of the course content and time allocated for mathematics programs for their effective implementation to meet the needs and aspiration of the society. The result of this research will also help teachers to take correction and improve on their teaching methods, improvising of teaching aids where these are lacking.

Furthermore, its enable the Government and administrators to know the need for adequate funding as well as providing relevant teaching facilities, equipment for effective implementation of mathematics programs in senior secondary schools.    Feedback of this study will be of benefits to student as the suggestion will go a long way in promoting and enhancing the student mastery of the subject and reduce failure rates in senior secondary school examination.

1.7     Delimitation of the Study

          The study focused on the methods the teachers employ in teaching mathematics, qualification of mathematics teachers, effect of school (class room) environment on the teaching of mathematics resources provided for senior secondary school in Makurdi L.G.A of Benue state.


1.8     Defination of Terms

Secondary Education: secondary education normally takes place in secondary school, taking place after primary education and may be followed by higher education or vocational training. In some countries, only primary or basic education is compulsory, but secondary education is included in compulsory education in most countries.

Examination: A test of capacity and knowledge. It is a determinant of a learner’s strength and weakness necessary for his/her academic adjustment and work life.

Academic: Academic is connected with education, especially in schools and universities.

Teaching:   The act of imparting knowledge.

Learning:    It is a relatively permanent change in behavior that results from teaching.

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