Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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Curriculum Studies and Teaching
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The study investigated “The Influence of School Environment on Pupils’ Academic Performance in Fako Division South West Region of Cameroon. Specifically, the work examined the extent to which learning facilities, pupil/pupil relationship, teacher/pupil relationship and parent/school relationship affect pupils’ academic performance. A cross-sectional survey research design was used and a sample of 200 pupils and 12 teachers emerged through purposive and convenient sampling techniques. A questionnaire was administered on primary six pupils and an interview guide on their teachers for data collection. The questionnaires were analyzed based on various research hypotheses. The findings indicated that the school environment has a significant influence on the academic performance of the pupils. looking at the influence through the relationship of the school environment and academic performance, the findings revealed that, teacher pupil relationship had the strongest influence on their academic performance(r=0.606) followed by the learning facilities(r=0.592) pupil relationship (0.299) and lastly parent school relationship (0.26) had the least influence on pupils’ academic performance. This study concludes that, school environment significantly influence pupils’ academic performance and it was evidently proven that, these variables affect pupils’ academic performance. The findings of this study revealed significant revelations about school environment and pupils’ academic performance. It was recommended that, corporate organizations and individuals should be encouraged by the government to donate generously in cash and kind for the provision of school resources. Apart from school and public libraries, education resource centres should be established by government such as teacher centres and audio-visual centres. Teachers’ centres could serve as place where teachers could work together in groups to generate ideas that would make them more competent in the profession. Also, teachers should be made to use instructional facilities while teaching and where they are not available, improvisation should be adopted through locally made materials to teach. Suggestions were also made for further research.




Academic performance is the knowledge gained that is characterized by marks from a teacher and/or educational goals set by learners and are measured using continuous assessment or examinations results. Academic performance of children is a key feature in education and it is considered to be the centre around which the whole educational system revolves. It is believed that, the academic performance of learners determines the success or failure of any academic institution and it has a direct impact on the socio-economic development of a country in the sense that, learners are bound to make informed decisions about their career when they performed well in school. Similarly, pupils’ academic performance serves as bedrock for knowledge acquisition and the development of skills and the most priority of all educators is academic performance of pupils (Ankam, 2009).

High academic performance experiences are satisfying in themselves and can be expected to contribute to school satisfaction. Children who do well in school tend to be more satisfied with school. Good school results can be expected to lead to school satisfaction because they lead to gratifying feeling of being academically competent. Pupils who are accepted by their peers have been found to be more likely to enjoy school and their classes. Pupils may be satisfied with schooling when the learning environment is conducive, if they have the opportunity to play around freely in a sport arena where running, jumping, climbing, throwing and other activities are done. In other words, pupils may prefer to go to school with well-constructed classrooms and facilities that they can be proud of. Consequently, factors contributing to improvement in learners’ academic performance have received much attention from educators and researchers (Shafiq & Behanu, 2011). These two researchers found that several factors contribute to improvement in the academic performance of pupils such as daily study hours, social economic status of parents/guardians and age as factors that significantly affect academic performance. Furthermore, a proper relationship from parents and teachers, communication skills, and school environment as a whole which is the focus of this study has also been found as a significant determinant to academic performance. Hence, this study therefore is to examine school environment and its effects on pupils’ academic performance. The chapter focuses on the background to the study, statement of the problem, objective of the study, research questions, research hypotheses and justification of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study and operational definition of terms.

Background to the Study

The background to the study lays the foundation on how the major concepts of the study (school environment and academic performance) have evolved over time, how other researchers have described the concepts and how these concepts can be defined and described in our local context. The background to the study is discussed under the historical and contextual concepts to the study.

Historically, the concept of school environment can be traced back to the early philosophers’ view on how education should be and they are among the major figures who laid the foundations of educational processes. They debated on different subjects on school learning activities in the past that are important for philosophy of education even now. For Aristotle{322BC}, he believed that everyone has talents and virtues, but these features differ based on training arena and children should be trained and in that same line, Rousseau{1778} believed strongly that, education is concerned with developing the pupil’s character and moral sense, so that he may learn to practice self-mastery and remain virtuous even in the unnatural and imperfect society in which he will have to live morally. Therefore, the school setting should be organized to instill these skills in the learner (Watson & Dashon, 2003).

According to Eke (2009) Pestalozzi{1827} would bring in a revolutionary idea in the school environment from a teacher-centered, syllabus-oriented system of education, in which a child was considered often the unwilling receptacle of knowledge, there is a shift to a paidocentric system, in which the needs and the psychological development of the child are stressed in the school environment. According to him, the school environment should be literally a drawing-out of this self-power, a development of abilities through activity in the physical field by encouraging manual work and exercises, in the moral field by stimulating the habit of moral actions and in the intellectual field by eliciting the correct use of the senses in observing concrete things accurately and making judgments upon them (Shawn & Eke, 2009).

Next to Pestalozzi, was Froebel1(852) perhaps the most gifted of the early 19th century educators the founder of the kindergarten movement and a theorist on the importance of constructive play and self-activity in early childhood. He emphasized self-activity as the central feature of childhood education. School environment for Froebel was a place to which the learner comes to know the “inner relationship of things”, “things” meaning God, man, nature, and their unity. The subjects followed from this: religion, language and art, natural history, and the knowledge of form. In all these subjects, the lessons should appeal to the pupil’s interests. The school environment is to concern itself not primarily with the transmission of knowledge but with the development of character and the provision of the right motivation to learn, hence, he put great emphasis on play in child education.

In the same line, Dewey (1938) believed that traditional education was beyond the scope of young learners. Progressive education should include socially engaging learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate for young children. Dewey thought that effective education comes primarily through social interactions and that the school environment should be considered as a social institution (Flinders & Thornton, 2013). He considered education to be a “process of living and not a preparation for future living”. This set of beliefs set Dewey apart from philosophers that supported traditional classroom settings. In contrast to traditional school settings, Dewey thought that schools and classrooms should be representative of real life situations, allowing children to participate in learning activities interchangeably and flexibly in a variety of social settings (Gutek, 2014).

Learner-centered educators believe that Dewey’s work is supportive of many of their beliefs about how children learn. He viewed the school environment as a social entity for children to learn and problem-solve together as a community. In these classrooms children are viewed as unique individuals; children can be found busy at work constructing their own knowledge through personal meaning, rather than teacher-imposed knowledge and teacher-directed activities (Schiro, 2013). Children will be seen learning-by doing in these classrooms and they will be solving problems through hands-on approaches.  When teachers plan for instruction, pupils’ interests will be taken into consideration and curricular subjects will be integrated with an emphasis on project learning. The educational experience encompasses the intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual growth of the whole child, not just academic growth; hence, he gives an overview how the teaching learning process should be designed. Furthermore, with Montessori education, children are learning important academic, social, and life skills through active and playful experiences (Lillard, 2013). These components make it clear that Maria Montessori was one of the pioneers of the emerging learner-centered movement and her ideas, as they align with John Dewey’s ideas, continue to be influential in 21st century school environment.

On the other hand, the origin of academic performance can be traced back to the 1830s where education advocates Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe used a standardized test to evaluate learners’ progress in Boston. Kansas school administrator Frederick J. Kelly advanced the idea of standardized testing with the Kansas Silent Reading Test in 1914 (Haus, 2009). These multiple-choice tests were used for grading time and standardize learners’ evaluations. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 adopted by United Nations agencies encouraged the usage of standardized testing by all countries to measure academic performance of learners. This Act required nations to measure learners proficiency and develop accountability measures for public schools. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 continued the ESEA’s focus on accountability by requiring nations to ensure minimum proficiency levels in order to receive funds (Eku, 2008). This background tries to trace the evolution of the aspect of school environment in respect to pupils’ academic performance and this has been traced through the ideology of early educators describing how the concepts of school environment and academic performance have evolved.

Contextually, in Cameroon, primary education consists of ‘the first six grades of compulsory schooling, normally provided to six to 12-year-olds (though with high repetition rates, children up to age 14 are often included) (MINEDUB, 2018). Nursery and Primary Education is the foundation of sustainable learning. Cameroon has ratified several conventions related to compulsory education. These conventions range from the Jomtien Education Framework of 1990, the Salamanca Statement of 1994, and the Dakar Framework of 2000 to the Incheon Declaration of 2015 precisely the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4). Besides these international conventions, the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon guarantees the right of the child to education and further highlights it in the1998 Law to lay down guidelines for Education. In view of becoming an emergent nation by the year 2035, the government developed the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP) in 2009 to provide major orientations to all sectors of the society. The document tasked ministries in charge of education to develop the human capital required to attain this vision (Hake, 2013).

The 2013-2020 Education and Training Sector Strategy Paper (ETSSP) clearly defines the missions of each ministry of Education. Hence, the curriculum for Basic Education is designed to guide the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes in the learners and to set the foundation for learning with emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The curriculum therefore responds to one of the key missions assigned to the Ministry of Basic Education (MINEDUB, 2018). The vision of the new curriculum falls in line with the SDG4 which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all with focus on access, equity and inclusion, quality and learning outcomes within a lifelong learning approach. This is in corroboration with the law to lay down guidelines for Education (1998) which states in Article 4 that the general aim of education is to ensure the intellectual, physical, civic and moral development of the child as well as its economic, socio-cultural, political and moral integration in the society. In this line, Ministry of Basic Education intends to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes of learners under its authority. At the end of the primary school cycle, the learner is expected to have acquired national core skills in view of stepping into secondary school or engaging in other learning contexts or activities. Hunkins (2009) is of the opinion that, teachers are one of the key players in curriculum implementation as section 37 of Law No 98/004 of 14 April 1998 states that, the teacher shall be the principal implementer of the quality of education. Given the mentioned roles of teachers (implementer of curriculum and guarantor of quality education), it would seem that teachers have the task to implement the curriculum bearing in mind the above-mentioned general objectives for teaching as well as ensuring that learners acquire quality education. Seemingly too, the quality of education acquired by learners would depend to an extent the type of quality relationships the teacher will creates with the learners (Hunkins, 2009).

The Basic Education has experienced pedagogic evolutions from the Objective-based Approach (OBA) through the Inferential Thinking Approach that was referred to as “New Pedagogic Approach” to the Competence-based Approach (CBA) or the Behavioural Objective-based Approach which is in use today. The CBA facilitates the development of skills through the practice of Project Based Learning, Cooperative Learning and Integrated Theme Learning. The underlying philosophy of the CBA requires that learning should be based on the potentials of the learner. The learner should be responsible for his/her own learning. Focus is on learning and not on teaching. It is important for the classroom teachers to diligently determine the characteristics of their learners. Lesson preparation should always implicitly or overtly provide for gender equity, for inclusiveness and for multiple intelligences (MINEDUB, 2018). Also, the Ministry has reiterated three main components of the competence to be taught: subject competence (knowledge), transversal competence (know-how resulting from all the subjects in a child’s learning) and life competence (savoir-etre resulting from the development of the right attitudes, behaviour, for real life situations. Being aware of his learners needs, teacher develops behavioural activities based on tasks. He does not push the learner but moves at his pace and the learner is at the centre of his learning and the teacher, a facilitator.

In the other hand, it should be noted that, the educational quality is measured by academic performance and in the context of this study, most teachers and even pupils see academic performance only in terms of marks or grade of the pupils which means that, they evaluate taking a time only the cognitive domain of the learner while ignoring other domains. According to MINEDUB (2018) assessing the academic performance of pupils involves passing judgments on learners’ knowledge, skills and attitudes with the sole aim of making decisions about their education. It is an integral part of the teaching-learning process in the primary school and constitutes part of the curriculum. Evaluating children’s academic performance is a means of objectively informing parents, guardians and policy makers on learners’ progress in school. Diverse tools should be used to collect information about the learner in order to moderate and increase learners’ chances of learning from one another.

Nevertheless, learners must be assessed fairly and at the same time taking into consideration that each learner has their learning styles. Consequently, all the learners may not always be at the same level of attaining the expected learner outcome. The measurement of academic performance in primary schools in Cameroon can take three forms (oral, written, practical). There are many ways through which information can be gathered about learner’s progress. This can be done through: observation checklists; learner’s self-assessment; daily practical assignments; samples of learner’s work; learner’s willingness to participate and contribute in projects/conferencing; oral and written quizzes; portfolios; willingness to be involved in class and school activities (MINEDUB, 2018).

Statement of the Problem

Pupil’s academic performance occupies a very important place in education as well as in the learning process. It is considered as a key criterion to judge one’s total potentialities and capacities which are frequently measured by the examination results. It is used to pass judgment on the quality of education offered by academic institutions. However, the issue of poor academic performance of pupils in schools has been of much concern to the government, parents, teachers and even pupils themselves. This is in the sense that, poor academic performance may lead to class repetition, school dropout, juvenile delinquency and academic wastage which may come as a result of children’s inability to learn effectively in school.

In the same line, many researchers have pointed out that, determinants of pupils performance have been the subject of ongoing debate among educators, academicians  and  policy  makers and many  studies have  pointed  out  to both internal and external factors amongst which are, school environment,  hard  work  on  the  pupils,  previous  schooling,  parent’s  education,  family income  and  self-motivation  as  factors  that  have  significant  effects  on  the  pupil’s  general performance academically. However, Rutha and Gosh (2010) highlights poor learning environment as key factor that led to poor performance in primary schools. The availability and adequacy of learning aids and  resources  are  among  the  most  influential  factors which  explain  the  differing  performance  levels. Conversely, poor environmental conditions might have direct effect on pupil’s performance because of creating uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for teachers combined with frustrated behavior of pupils leading to poor concentration.  Hence, this might affect the academic performance of pupils. Hence, this study sort to examine how school environment influences pupils’ academic performance in Fako Division South West Region of Cameroon.

Research Objective

To achieve the objectives of the study, the research objectives were structured into main and specific objective

Main Research Objective

The main objective was to examine the influence of the school environment on the academic performance of pupils in Fako Division, South West Region of Cameroon.

Specific Research Objectives

Specifically, this study aimed at:

  1. To examine how learning facilities influence pupils’ academic performance

  2. To determine how pupil-pupil relationship influences pupils’ academic performance

  3. To investigate how teacher-pupil relationship influences pupils’ academic performance

  4. To investigate how parent-school relationship influences pupils’ academic performance

Research Questions

The research objectives were later structured into main and specific research questions.

Main Research Question

The main research question was; what is the role of the school environment on the academic performance of pupils in Fako Division, South West Region of Cameroon?

Specific Research Question

Specifically, this study is aimed at finding out:

What is the role of learning facilities on the academic performance of pupils?

How does teacher-pupil relationship affect the academic performance of pupils?

How does pupil-pupil relationship affect academic performance of pupils?

How parent-school relationship does affect academic performance of pupils?



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