The study investigated the impact of environmental pollution on academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria. Three hypotheses were tested in the study. The study also had three research questions. Survey research design was employed to carry out the study. The following were the objectives of the study for the research: to ascertain the environmental factors that distort learning and academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria, to determine the possible ways of enhancing the academic performance of the secondary school students in Nigeria and to establish the general perceptions of the Nigerian secondary school students towards environmental pollution and its effects on their academic performance.
1.1 Background to the Study
Every day activities always require adequate attention to more than one simultaneous task. The ability to do this successfully depends on a number of factors including distractions, the difficulty of the tasks and the perceived importance of the tasks. Bradley (2007) expressed that listening is the most fundamental feature of every student because the teachers make use of the concept of lecturing in which the communication between the students and the teacher is emphasized in a school. Students are expected to listen carefully and attentively in the classroom. This is because most basic natural abilities of students is listening except for those who have hearing impments. In a classroom, children regularly have to attend to multiple tasks at the same time. The learning environment provided by a school should be conducive enough to enhance better academic performance of students and with that, the teachers and even the school will be receiving positive comments from the parents who have invested heavily on their children’s education. The identification of problems with the physical setting may be aided by a narrow focus and any attempt to improve the environment and facilitate better learning will require a wider perspective. Noise is seen as an unwanted sound which is capable of causing physiological, psychological, physical and emotional stress to the living as well as non-living objects that were exposed to it (Singh and Davar, 2004).
Environmental pollution which is a form of , water and noise pollution and a threat to health and well being in the schools and workplaces. Ritu (2007) revealed that noise pollution is more severe than ever before and it will continue to be more severe because of the increase in population and the increase in the use of powerful environmental pollutants. It will also continue to remain like due to the fact that there is a sustained increase in highway, rail, and traffic which remain major sources of environmental pollution. The health effects of environmental pollution are numerous, persistent, psychologically and medically significant. Noise pollution brings adverse effects that cause health impment and that degrade residential, working and learning environments with corresponding real and intangible losses. It interferes with sleep, concentration, communication and recreation. Perhaps the beauty of education is best reflected through the academic performance of students, no matter the merit of any educational curriculum (Egim, 2003). There is a need to provide a suitable and ideal educational environment that is voided of the usual hustle and bustles coming with environmental pollution of any kind to bring out the best from the learners. (Dockrell and Shield, 2004) suggested that an ideal school should best be located in a serene and quiet environment that will prevent the students from being exposed to environmental pollution of any kind that may brings about learning distortion. Like the home and the work place, the school is also an important micro environment which is important for the cognitive, creative and social development of children. Schools are however expected to ensure the best possible conditions for a learners’ emotional, physical and intellectual development including control of excess environmental pollution like noise, and water if need be.
The natural environment is being aggressively attacked by rapid and increasing growth in human economic and social activities such as urbanization, population, civilization, industrialization, agricultural practices, construction of infrastructures and application of science and technology in recent times has resulted to high increase of noise pollution in Nigeria (Enu, 2012). Ukpong (1995), revealed that despite the improvement in human health universally for the past decades, with millions of people living longer healthier lives, yet preventable illnesses and premature death are still occurring in shockingly large number due to unavoidable environmental pollutions which Kalu et al (2010) described as the deplorable environmental predicament, an irony of achievement as man is dying of success. It is a pity that many people in the country are unaware of the havoc caused to life by these environmental pollutions to their hearing and other wellbeing as every malfunctioning is usually rationalized on the ‘witchcraft’ or the ‘devil.’ This study however aimed to examine the impact of environmental pollution on academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Good education does not happen by chance. It is a product of effective teaching and learning coupled with the effort of the teacher, the school, the students, parents and their various home environments. Often a time the blames on the poor performance of students in school are shifted to the teachers and the school authorities. Most families in Nigeria tend not to pay careful and adequate attention to their children’s education. It seems some of the parents have bad notion about the performance of their children, they do not know and seem to fulfil their role of guidance and encouragement in the child’s performance in schools. Some people also have the notion that the mass failure or success in schools could be traced back to the teachers and the school authorities not taking into consideration environmental factors that cause pollution and learning distortion in children. While other people see socio-economic status of the family as an influence to the child’s academic performance.
However, some research works have revealed that the performance of the students must not be left with only the teachers but the parents must also make meaningful impacts on their children to ensure better academic performance in their lives. This motivated researchers to find out the causes of the poor academic performance of the students and then proffer necessary solutions to that. For example in Abia State, some students and parents believe that the factors responsible for the repeated massive failure of students in both junior and senior external examinations (West African School Certificate Examinations WASCE) are the factors emanating from the school authorities and the teachers alone. Some students even go to special Centres while few enlightened parents maintained.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) What are the environmental factors that distort learning and academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria?
ii) What are the possible ways of enhancing the academic performance of the secondary school students in Nigeria?
iii) What are the general perceptions of the Nigerian secondary school students towards environmental pollution and its effects on their academic performance?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to the impact of environmental pollution on academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:
i) To ascertain the environmental factors that distort learning and academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria.
ii) To determine the possible ways of enhancing the academic performance of the secondary school students in Nigeria.
iii) To establish the general perceptions of the Nigerian secondary school students towards environmental pollution and its effects on their academic performance.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses to be tested include:
i) There is a significant relationship between noise pollution and the academic performance of students.
ii) There is no significant correlation between pollution and the academic performance of students.
iii) There is a significant difference between water pollution and the academic performance of students.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will provide some strategies for planners, administrators, policy and decision makers with respect to education in creating a more healthy and productive learning environment. It will equally awaken and create awareness on both teachers and students on the need for teaching and learning a noise free environment. It will draw the attention of the Government in passing law and ordinances on environmental pollution in the state. It will also help the public to understand the effects of noise pollution on children. It will draw the attention of both government and parents to the importance of locating school sites in an environmental pollution free zone.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study of will cover some selected secondary school students in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. Students' academic record and its translations will be examined. This will also be limited to some selected mixed senior secondary school students.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The researcher encountered some challenges in the course of carrying out the field work and these challenges were the constraints that worked against the optimal realization of what I am set out to achieve. These challenges include:
Time: Students did not have enough time to respond to the questionnaire because they were in a hurry to attend one of their compulsory lessons and this will not allow the researcher to get the adequate information needed from the research instrument.
Communication: It was observed that some of the students find it difficult to interpret the questionnaire so there was need for an interpreter to conduct the survey.
1.9 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Academic Performance: Scores attained in form one end of year examination.
Environmental Pollution: is the release of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants.
Secondary school: is the next step up from primary school. Secondary schools are often called high schools in the United States. In Britain, secondary schools may be public schools, grammar schools or comprehensive schools.