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Teacher Perceptions on the Influence of Deviance on Academic Results Among BAMENDA High School Pupils in Cameroon

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The qualitative study was carried out to investigate the effect of deviance on academic results among BAMENDA high school pupils in Cameroon. The study aimed at finding out from teachers how deviance influences academic results among learners at BAMENDA High School in Cameroon. An exploratory case study was used. The thematic data interpretation strategy was adopted. A sample of ten form four teachers, the school head, the deputy head and four heads of departments from mathematics, science, languages and humanities subject areas participated. The respondents in the survey were able to define deviance from the sociological and functionalist approaches and their various conceptualisations tended to view deviance at BAMENDA as involving abnormal behaviour that differed markedly from the school’s ideas about proper functioning. The study established that the prevalence of deviance within the school environment disrupted school activities in general and academic results in particular and that children who engaged in criminal activities had little or no time for school work. On controlling deviance the respondents highlighted that they employed authoritarian and permissive methods. The study recommended that teachers needed to carefully monitor pupils’ behaviour so that deviant acts were kept in check. Public labelling of deviant pupils by teachers was also discouraged. However, the present study does not elaborate on the factors that influenced deviance in the school setting. Future researchers would need to examine these factors, interrogate them in a school setting and investigate their impact on learners’ academic achievements.      

Key Words: deviance, academic results


Discipline management is an essential element in people of all societies. It insists on upholding moral values of people. It is wondered how a society can function without upholding discipline. It cannot be an understatement that society at large is aware of the dangers of indiscipline or deviant behaviour. In a school setting, deviant behaviour makes pupils fail to harmonise their abilities, interests and values and to develop their full potential. In the long run, the deviant pupils would then make inappropriate subject and career choices, get into social and psychological problems which may result in a general maladjustment to school life (Cohen, 2015).

Schools continue to grapple with student indiscipline. The Global School Based Health Survey (2003) notes an upsurge in deviant behaviour in schools. The Global School Based Health Survey (GSBHS) developed by the World Health Organisation in collaboration with the United Nations’ UNICEF, UNESCO and UNAIDS with technical assistance from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, aims to provide data on health and social behaviours among school going adolescent children. The survey puts drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, physical fighting and having sex among adolescent school children as rife.

In view of the unruly behaviour by the youths, Yaroson (2004) laments the economic challenges that parents grapple with these days which leaves them with no time to positively parent their children. More often than not, these parents would resort to permissive parenting styles which have no rules, boundaries or limits. In keeping with Yaroson (2004; Grayson (2006) observes that modernisation in African settings has caused the disintegration of the traditional family and social structure. With globalisation also came the adoption of children’s rights and fundamental freedoms of the youths. The old adage that, “spare the rod and spoil your son” no longer holds as what we consider as some forms of indiscipline may end up being contested in courts of law. Thus, clear and supportive policies to deal with deviant behaviour may be needed especially among school going children in respect of the high prevalence of deviance in this special population.

Deviance in a school setting takes many forms. In a study conducted in Namibia, UNICEF (2011) gives some of the problems of pupils like skipping classes, truancy, poor grades, abusing substances and disorganisation. School indiscipline has been over time an issue of concern for educators, policy makers and public opinion in general, owing to the outbreak of aggressiveness among peers, violence within teacher – student relationships and vandalism as well, leading to perpetual existence of the problem of drop outs, deviant behaviours, examination malpractices, lateness and poor academic performance among students (Pela, Adelekan & Ndom, 2014). 

Deviance, indiscipline, juvenile delinquency and unruly student behaviour also know no boundaries. In Cameroon, the delinquency being displayed by some of our crime prone youths of today points to a generation divorced from humility and respect. Our courts are always answering to cases of alleged assault, rape and other misdemeanours by youths. Many parents have thrown in the towel, leaving everything to fate. It seems our wayward youths are growing up in areas where windows are used more than doors. These acts of indiscipline in our national life could have likely begun as a mustard seed of disobedience at home or in the school. Scholars posit that insignificant acts of indiscipline if allowed to incubate could hatch a monster that will be difficult to exterminate (Chikwature & Oyedele, 2016).


The above views point to the youthful school going children as believed to indulge in pleasure and luxury all the time. This again is attributable to permissible behaviour and lax discipline by parents. Chikwature and Oyedele (2016) highlight that in the Presidential Inquiry into Education and Training, (CIET), Nziramasanga (1999) notes that because of many social and economic pressures imposed on the family; parents tending to have little time with their children. This translates into parents failing in giving them the necessary guidance. Thus parents would expect schools to provide solutions to deviant behaviour by their children. But, a study by Allis and Kame (1999) among Egyptian school children found out a few indiscipline cases among school children as being related to family background. The majority of the deviant cases in the study were related to the children themselves.

Previous research on student academic performances had focused on individual factors like race and gender (Downey and Vogt, 2005); environmental factors such as school problems (UNICEF, 2011), family factors (Hallinan, 2001). Deviant behaviour and /or unruly, delinquent behaviour of pupils in secondary schools were also studied (Yaroson, 1994; Pela, 2010 and Chikwature & Oyedele, 2016). There is little information known to the researcher on teachers’ views on the influence of deviance over academic performance of pupils. Thus, in this present study, deviant behaviour and its effects on pass rate as viewed or perceived by teachers will be investigated.

Chikwature and Oyedele (2016) also note that following the adoption of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training (CIET), the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has resolved to strengthen and institutionalise Guidance and Counselling as a subject from Early Childhood (ECD) to high school (Director’s Circular No 23 of 2005). Among other objectives, this subject is also intended to harmonise pupils’ abilities, interests and values with the express intent of making them develop their full potential. These guidance and counselling programmes in schools are intended to improve the pupils’ self-image, counter deviance and facilitate better academic achievements. Again it will be the subject of this study to find out from teachers if the guidance and counselling and any other school based programmes like Life Skills Education are meeting their objectives in controlling deviance in all its forms. This is because indiscipline cases have been increasing at Bamenda high school coupled with fluctuating results at ordinary level from 2004 to 2016. There is currently no information known to the researcher on teacher perceptions on the influence of deviance on pass rate in rural schools. In the light of this statement, the study will also seek to determine the relationship between deviant behaviour and academic performance, highlighting the innovations or strategies that teachers employ to overcome deviant behaviour.


1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Pupils, teachers, parents or guardians have a high regard for good behaviour and school results. Parents and teachers place heavy emphasis on the academic success of a child. Abnormal behaviour is militating against the realisation of educational goals in the study area. Academic performance at Bamenda high school has been fluctuating over a period of ten years, with the lowest recorded in 2004 and 2008. Another disturbing concern from the school authorities is a marked increase in deviant behaviour among the school children. There is a dearth of literature known to the researcher on the role of deviant behaviour on academic performance of pupils in settings such as the study area. Very little studies have been carried out in rural schools which are remote, resource poor and shunned by most qualified teachers. In most cases, past studies did little to solicit for teachers perceptions on how deviance impacts on pass rate. Thus, this study sought to provide some insights on teachers’ views on the influence of deviance over the academic performance of pupils.


1.3 Aim Of The Study

The study aimed at finding out from teachers how deviance influences academic results among learners at BAMENDA High School in Cameroon.


The following objectives were formulated to guide the study:

    • To determine how deviant behaviour is conceptualised by teachers at BAMENDA High School
    • To determine the extent to which deviant behaviour is influencing academic performance at BAMENDA High School
    • To establish the strategies that teachers employ in dealing with deviant behaviour


To achieve the above objectives, the study sought to answer the following research questions:

    • How do you define deviant behaviour at BAMENDA High School?
    • What is the influence of deviant behaviour over academic results at BAMENDA High School?
    • Which strategies are being employed in dealing with deviant behaviour at BAMENDA High School?
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