Female students’ performance in science subjects with focus on biology form iv national examinations in community secondary schools: the case of Mbeya district

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University of Dar es Slaam
The study investigated female students’ performance in Science with focus on Biology Form IV National Examinations in Community Secondary Schools. The purpose was to determine factors contributing to female students’ performance in Biology. It was conducted in Mbeya District. The main factors considered were: the role of environment at home and school, role of teachers’ qualification, treatment of students in classroom, effects of day and boarding schools, and nature of classroom interaction. Four secondary schools Imezu, Ilembo, Usongwe and Iwalanje were selected randomly for the study. The sample had 174 respondents comprising 160 students, 4 Heads of Schools, 8 teachers teaching Biology, and 2 Secondary school Biology subject Inspectors. The study used both qualitative and quantitative approaches, employing a case study design. Data collected was subjected to content analysis manually through tabulation, codification, calculation of frequencies and percentages. The findings revealed that female students’ performance in Biology National Form IV Examinations was poor. The findings showed that there was shortage of qualified Biology teachers in CSSs and scarcity of Science teaching and learning materials. The available teachers did not teach effectively to cover the syllabus. School fees and other contributions did not suffice buying physical facilities and hiring qualified teachers from other institutions. Arguably, however, the revelation of these factors should not be taken at face value. There are other interrelated factors. For example lack of qualified teachers in science subjects is a national issue. But CSSs are particularly affected because of their set up, such as their remoteness, their newness, and non conducive working environment that may not attract highly qualified teachers. The fact that these schools are relatively new many of the functional systems are yet to be established. For instance, the systems of remittance of funds from government such as capitation, supply of teachers, and acquisition of laboratory equipment are not developed as yet. These CSSs started by late 1990s and those visited started by 2002. To date they are many. Equally important is the question of available funds vis a vis the needs of the schools. CSSs are relatively a new set of schools and because of this; their needs are many and are spread over all departments. Thus, the funds that are allocated every year cannot cover the needs of all departments at a go. Time is needed to allow for the gradual establishment of the infrastructure of CSSs. It is recommended, therefore, that it could be helpful if a comprehensive evaluation of the system of Community Secondary Schools was carried out to determine areas of intervention, improvement and priority. What is certain, however, is the fact that CSSs are very helpful especially for rural areas as they provide secondary education to many remote areas at low cost.
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Women in science, Biology, Community schools, Secondary schools, Mbeya district, Tanzania
Ngohelo, R. H. (2011) Female students’ performance in science subjects with focus on biology form iv national examinations in community secondary schools: the case of Mbeya district. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Avaialble at