Factors Affecting Academic Excellence In Our Primary, Secondary And Tertiary Institutions.

The future of every nation largely depends on the fate of every child that is born into her. Hence education plays a major role in the growth and development of a Nation and should not be toyed with.

The importance of Education to a Nation cannot be over-emphasized. Education is the backbone of a Nation; no nation can step up without educating the nation. The future of every nation depends largely on the fate of every child born into her, most especially those privileged to go through the Academic walls of the Nation, starting from the Primary level of education to the tertiary institution. No doubt, national development has been founded by those who are experts in their areas of Specialization, and this would not have been imaginable without the instrumentality of the educational system.

Having reminded us of the importance of education, let me quickly explain the keyword in the topic, which is "Academic Excellence."The student's performance plays an important role in producing the best quality graduates who will become great leaders and manpower for the country's economic and social development. In our Society today, academic achievement is one of the major factors considered by employers in hiring workers. Thus, academic excellence is a necessity for students to prepare themselves for future opportunities in their Careers and fulfill the employer's demands. With this, academic excellence can simply be defined as the demonstrated ability to perform, achieve, and/or excel in scholastic activities.

Having expatiated on academic excellence, let me quickly go to the discussion proper: factors affecting academic excellence in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

Factors affecting academic excellence in our primary schools are somewhat distinct from those affecting academic excellence in our secondary and tertiary institutions due to the age range of the students and financial strings involved as the child goes higher, amongst others. However, below are five(5) general factors affecting academic excellence in the educational sector, and these factors are applicable to both the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions:

1. Poor funding of Schools: Our educational sector has been in crisis for many years, largely due to the fact that the sector is poorly funded. This has led to a shortage supply of learning materials and human resources being experienced in the system. Suppose you look at the secondary school structure (public and private schools). In that case, we have inadequate qualified teachers, a high turnover rate of teachers, a shortage of classrooms, poor remuneration for teachers, etc. Most private schools do not pay their teacher's bargained entitlements, teachers' salaries, and job security is not being guaranteed. Public schools have irregular payment of salary and promotion entitlements. Currently, the strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is a clear reality that all is not well with the tertiary institutions in our Country. Consistently since 2009, varsity lecturers have been on industrial action over issues that borders on the failure of the Federal government to fund the university system and improve the welfare of lecturers. According to ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the situation has forced varsity lecturers to leave Nigeria for other countries where tertiary education is taken seriously. He continued that while a professor in a Nigerian university earns $700 per month, his counterpart in Ghana is paid $3,000, United Kingdom (UK) between £8,000 and £10,000 per month. This and a host of other problems abound in our educational system due to poor and inadequate funding.

2. Availability/Usage of Infrastructural facilities and equipment: the available school facilities and the extent they affect the academic excellence of especially Secondary school students and students in tertiary institutions. It should be noted that the quality of education to a large extent is dependent on the scale of equipment/facilities and the use of which they are put, but we see a situation in our present-day whereby equipped school library, science laboratory, information communication technology, technical, drawing and musical laboratories, including conducive classrooms for learning are grossly inadequate and the few ones available, we lack instructors, experts, teachers and technicians to handle them or put them to effective use. Regrettably, some privately owned Secondary schools built on rented apartments, abandoned public schools, temporary school sites, and some structures are even batches. It is so disheartening to see students who have passed through secondary schools still cluster around cyber cafes in order to learn how to use the mouse while writing jamb exams.

3. Home/Parental background: after birth, the home is the first agent of socialization for a child. He or she learns how to walk, talk, eat, etc., from home. Hence, a child born into a family that maintains and upholds moral uprightness and good values, virtues, and norms tends to perform explicitly well in primary school compared to a child born into an immoral family with no proper guidance, support, and supervision. Also, Parental educational and occupational level of awareness plays a major role in students' academic performance resulting in academic excellence. Educated, as well as occupationally fitted parents, thrive to ensure that their wards attend the best available schools, supervise their children in schoolwork, making sure to provide the necessary learning aides like good browsing phones, IPads/tablets, textbooks, manuals, laptops, etc., but the reverse is the case with poor parents. Owing to the present economic situation in the country, many poor parents are forced by circumstances to saddle the young ones with chores like Hawking wares, clearing the house, and doing menial jobs around the house before going to school and after school hours. We see cases of parents deciding which courses or profession their children should pursue in tertiary institutions against the child's wish, not considering whether that child is good in that field. In our tertiary institutions, we see poor parents not being able to pay school fees for the students, thereby leaving the students to fend completely for themselves, all in the quest to go to school. Some of them go to school in the daytime and work throughout the night, hardly having time to study or focus in class due to stress, sleep, tiredness, etc. This affects their performance in class.

4. Student Factor: as the main stakeholders, students have a major role in their academic achievement. Some students are very unserious with their studies and lack learning skills like reading, jotting down what is being taught, memorizing, etc. Students' behavioral as well as attitudinal patterns and styles are very discouraging. Some students prefer attending parties, keeping friends, chilling, and relaxing to studying. A lot of students only study when it's time for tests and exams; most of them do not know how to manage their time effectively. Some of them lack self-motivation and thus sink under peer influence/pressure as well as low self-esteem etc. This, without doubt, affects their academic performance negatively.

5. Teacher-Student relationship: Teachers have a major role to play in the student's academic excellence. The quality of education at the primary section and secondary as well as tertiary institutions depends majorly on the quality of teachers and their competence. Teachers should be friendly with the students, possess a sense of humor, offer consistent help (with high expectations) and active listening, and give room for learner-centered practices to students. In other words, students appreciate it when their teachers actively listen and encourage them and provide a fun and supportive yet challenging environment where the entire class can learn. We see cases of students abandoning courses in secondary schools based on the fierceness and rudeness of the teachers handling such courses; we also see students taking up courses that are at times not even related to their field of the profession based on the teacher's explicit and accommodating teaching techniques. 

 Having explicitly outlined and explained some of the factors affecting academic excellence in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, let us now take a look at some of the things that can be done in order for us to move forward:

1. Everybody should see education as their responsibility. Nowadays, people are more interested in when they graduate and when their children graduate other than the benefit that education has to deliver for the development of this country. Government efforts to improve academic performance have led to a series of interventions like scholarships, training of the lecturers, providing of infrastructure, etc. These things should not only be left to the government alone; individuals, private/corporate bodies, and non-governmental organizations should also feel responsible and assist the government in its quest to better our education system.

2. Government should pay more emphasis to education by ensuring that they fund the educational sector adequately from primary to secondary and to the tertiary level by having sufficient qualified faculties, building schools with a good learning environment and sufficient classrooms, looking into the welfare of teachers/lecturers, providing facilities with the expertise, ability, and resources necessary to support instructional effectiveness.

3. Parents should ensure that they give their wards the best education they can and not only give them the best education but also monitor and supervise their academic activities and measure/assess their performances. They should not compel the student to go for courses against their (Student) desires, nor should they encourage the excessive promotion of the child from one class to a higher class as the age of a child has a role to play in his or her academic performance.

4. Secondary schools should be able to develop an effective foundation stage for the tertiary education because the success of students in tertiary institutions is largely dependent on the quality of Secondary education they acquire; hence teachers should ensure greater supervision of especially primary and secondary school students to enhance the effectiveness of their time management.

5. Students should build a community of focused-oriented friends as this will boost the competitive spirit amongst them. They should also desist from keeping bad company and being associated or found at illegal gathering arenas around and outside the school environment.

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