The effect of indiscipline in public schools on academic performance of secondary school students


The effect of indiscipline in public schools on academic performance of secondary school students



Background to the Study

The critical tools used in the transformation of the individual in particular and the society in general is education. Secondary school education in Nigeria is meant to prepare the learners for valuable living conditions within the society and training for further education in order to live a valuable living conditions within any community and contribute towards the social, economic, and political development of the nation. Hence, the National Policy on Education (2004) clearly stated that education in Nigeria is an instrument “Par excellence” for effecting national development. It has witnessed active participation by non-governmental and government intervention. It is therefore desirable for the nation to spell out in clear and unequivocal terms the philosophy and objectives that underlie its investment in education.

Secondary schools are expected to be developed with the required facilities and staff in order to cater for the high demands for quality education. Also there are policies that have been proposed by the government to improve educational standards in the country. In spite of the policies and the various bodies created to oversee the issues of secondary schools in Nigeria to ensure quality education, learning institutions in the study area have been plagued with cases of students’ unrest and indiscipline which in many ways undermine quality education. Indiscipline in secondary schools has become an alarming issue in the Nigerian society.

Indiscipline cuts across all aspects of human environment and has caused a lot of setbacks in schools and the society at large. Indiscipline is like a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society. It breeds lawlessness and lawlessness breeds crime, and consequently self-destruction. Indiscipline in schools contributes to lack of success in one’s life, if allowed to linger on for a long time. Indiscipline is a behavioural disorder that is classified as an act of delinquency. Just like lying, stealing and playing truancy. It is often the cause of a lot of mental, emotional and also physical damage, such as damage to property in homes as well as in schools. By extension, the term connotes the violation of school rules and regulations capable of obstructing the smooth and orderly, functioning of the school system (Adeyemo, 1995). School rules and regulations in most cases affect students more than any other thing because they are made by the school authorities in order to guard and protect the students while in school. In the same vein, Akpan (2003) sees indiscipline as those forms of disobedience within the school system. It connotes willful disobedience of constituted authority. According to Akpan it could be done by one person or a group of people. The author called individual or collective misbehaviour. On the other hand, Olagboye (1999) sees indiscipline as an act which is deemed educationally and socially harmful, and specifically defined and forbidden by school rules and regulations. Indiscipline refers to deviant behaviours. It is a situation whereby students set aside the school rules and regulations and do what they like and leave undone what they are expected to do. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000), defines indiscipline as lack of control in the behaviour of a group of people. In other words, it is the inability of a person to live in accordance with rules. Indiscipline is regarded as an act that does not conform to the societal values or norms

However, it has been observed that cases of indiscipline abound in the study area. This ranges from truancy, fighting, shouting, snatching other learner’s property, bullying, cheating, viewing pornographic materials, and threatening teachers among others. Research consistently documents that school indiscipline reduces teaching hours as more time is devoted to managing students’ misbehaviours rather than on teaching. School Indiscipline owing to outbreak of aggressiveness among peers, violence within teachers to students’ relationship and vandalism, truancy, bullying, alcohol and substance abuse, inability and unwillingness to do assigned class work or homework, refusal to obey given orders, teasing of other learners, disrespecting educators, swearing at educators or other learners, carrying dangerous weapons to school, threatening other learners with dangerous weapons, assaulting other learners, thus leading to perpetual existence of problem of drop outs, deviant behaviours, examination malpractices, thuggery, lateness and above all poor academic performance among students (Idu & Ojedapo, 2011 & Tunor, 2011).

Acts of indiscipline in schools are many and consequences devastating. In fact, scholars have carried out extensive studies on the subject and have been able to identify several factors that have led to its occurrence in our institutions of learning being it locally, nationally and internationally. For instance, Ozigi and Canlanas cited by Oyetubo and Olaiya (2009) presented seven likely causes of the phenomenon in school which include: (a) the idea of democracy with its emphasis on the rights and freedom of the individual; (b) the “generation gap” in ideas, beliefs and values about the nature of man, life and society. There is a wide difference of opinion in these matters between the two generations, the young and the old; (c) the high level of sophistication of young men and women compared with that of the old generation; (d) the influence of the media (i.e. the newspaper, the radio and television) which carry regular reports about students power against authority; (e) the failure of the adults, both in society and at school to set standards of good behaviour for young men and women to follow; (f) the failure of many homes to provide basic and essential moral training in the upbringing of the children and the failure of parents to set good examples and (g) the failure in communication between young men and women insisting on their right and the authorities who tend to see the issues involved simply from the “official” point of view.

Elsewhere in a study carried out by Ahmed, Ajayi, Ajayi, and Ajibili, (2018)on effect of indiscipline on academic performance of secondary school students, the study identified five causes of indiscipline to include School administration, insufficient school facilities/funding, poor school structure, effect of climate change and teachers’ attitude towards students. Olagboye (1999) carried out a research on the main causes of students’ misbehaviour and measures taken by teachers in Oyo State. The study revealed that apart from the individuals themselves, the school is the next cause of most of the acts of indiscipline. The community closely follows with parents and the media being almost at par.

These causes have some major effects as identified by some researchers; notably the high rate of disobedience among secondary school students in Nigeria irrespective of their socio-economic background. Fafunwa (1999) at the national conference on discipline in schools opined that our society is passing through a very difficult time and the incidence of indiscipline permeates our entire social economic and political nation. The problem of indiscipline is more apparent among secondary school students. Indiscipline among them has attracted serious attention of scholars and administrators. Stressing this, Akubue (1991) states that the situation of indiscipline in schools has generated a lot of concern with no positive action to arrest the situation. Hence, the appropriateness of this topic comes to light when we recall the outburst of mass failure in the Senior school Certificate Examination (SSCE) and the National Examinations Council (NECO). The direction of and intensity of this mass failure points to the ineffective way of learning in secondary schools due to the school environment that in turn leads to students’ unrest and indiscipline. In recent past, attentions have been paid to the problem of indiscipline in the country in general and in the school system in particular Generally, there is the tendency to link the problem of student unrest in schools with the problem of discipline.

It is in this light that, Okoroma (2004) reveals that low academic performance in our schools is caused by acts of indiscipline. Okoroma specifically identified them as laziness, truancy, delinquency, cheating, disobedience, drunkenness, and sexual problem. His research shows that all these parameters of indiscipline in schools are contributory factors to academic performance of senior secondary school students. Tec (1972) affirmed this by stressing that, low academic achievers are undisciplined and uncommitted members of the school organization. Tec stated that, if members of a given system are dissatisfied, uninvolved and uncommitted to its basic aims and expectations, they will find it easier to engage in behaviour disapproved by the system than those who are satisfied, involved and committed to its basic aims. Similarly, Shekarau (1988) identified indiscipline as a major cause that brings about low academic attainment in schools. Shekarau stressed that, in time past students exhibited the best behaviour wherever they were. They respected their teachers and obeyed them, they feared failing examinations and so, worked very hard. But today the reverse is the case. All these according to Shekarau boil down to low academic performance. Indiscipline is a destructive and undeserving element to progress, training or mode of life in accordance with rules. Edem (1982) stated that indiscipline as a violation of school rules and regulations is capable of obstructing the smooth and orderly functioning of the school system and should be consequently avoided through perfect orientation of students and imposition of positive sanction in cases of obvious violation of order


In the same vein, Mustapha (2003) in his study reveals that students who are notorious for unwholesome behaviour are found to be heavily incapacitated in the deferment of immediate pleasure. Rather than focusing their attention on their studies, they always devote their attention on things that would bring immediate personal and selfish satisfaction such as sexual perversion, drug abuse, prostitution, alcoholism, and smoking among others. Stressing this, Abenga and Asor quoted by Mustapha affirmed that indiscipline and rampant occurrence of delinquent acts create an atmosphere of insecurity and inability in the schools and classrooms, which are not conducive for effective teaching/ learning. Concentration by students during classroom activity is very important. A student that does not concentrate can be a failure in academic work. Any absence of student’s concentration can create fragment involvement of learners in deviant behaviour. The school at any level is established for purpose of producing personal development through teaching and learning and the transmission of skills, attitudes, knowledge and acceptance of culture from one generation to the next as well as producing what can be called national character, any disturbances affect its developments.


He further stated that many students have their hope of academic excellence dashed due to their uncontrolled habit of perpetrating unwholesome behaviour in the school. Thus, many of those students voluntarily drop out of school when they discovered that immoral behaviour is taking much of their time and they are gradually becoming academically redundant and hopeless. Hence, Bukar and Ibi (2002) maintained that the entire students with poor academic performances are those notorious for deviant behaviour. High level of dropouts can have adverse effect on the efficiency of operation in schools. Some of these students were expelled from the school due to their unmanageable desire for evil. Most of these students are usually products of broken homes, where there is instability, insecurity and lack of affection and regularly subjected to one form of punishment or the other. A research conducted by Gribbes and Peg (1982) revealed that stealing if not treated early enough in a child’s life can grow worse. Elsewhere, Obateru in Ekpo (1966) pointed out that the infiltrations of secret cults into our secondary schools were causing school heads nightmares. Students’ indiscipline has led to the loss of many lives either through drug addictions, riots and many violent demonstrations, abortion and robbery. It is inview of this therefore that this study investigated the effects of indiscipline on academic performance of secondary school student.

Statement of the Problem

It is with dismay (a worried, sad feeling) to observe the damaged academic indiscipline has done to our schools even our secondary schools which the preparatory stage of higher education. Teachers are not coping well with the implementation of the curriculum, hence the low achievement of the product of secondary schools illiteracy.

Despite the efforts by the stakeholders to instill discipline in schools, such as strengthening of Board of Management to deal decisively with this problem and training of administers and teachers through workshops, indiscipline has persistently remained a big problem. There are many extreme cases of indiscipline that attract newspapers headlines, there are routine cases of truancy, boycotting of lessons, watching and practicing pornography, lies telling, violence, dishonesty, disobedient to teachers, prefects, and school administration, rapping school/class mates, alcohol consumption, confronting and stabbing teachers in schools, vandalism, lateness to school, cultism, drug abuse, insulting/assaulting, stealing, absenteeism, fighting and other example of indiscipline in the classroom which do not appear or are reported in the Newspapers. Parents blame teachers for the indiscipline among school children and teachers blame parents, government and school administrators for the indiscipline in the society. Student’s misconduct in the Classroom interferes with teaching and learning and is thought to be precursor to later school dropout and similar negative social out-comes.

A close investigation on why our students fail in their Senior Secondary especially on Economics will reveal the fact that most of the students, susceptible i.e influenced or harmed to failure are those who indulge in academic indiscipline such as truancy, lateness to school, fighting, vandalism (crime of destroying or damaging something) and others.

The rate at which students are engaging in different vices is breath taking. Many measures have been applied in recent past by government and school administrators in the bid to check the occurrence of indiscipline. However, the worry is that despite all stern measures the rate of indiscipline among students is on the increase. Measures have not adequately addressed the situation. However, the researcher discovered in recent times that students’ poor academic performance is attributed to school’s administrator, teacher and student indiscipline. Indiscipline in schools can manifest itself in students’ violent behaviour, poor disciplinary style, ineffectiveness and inefficiency of teacher, poor time management, and ineffective code of conduct and so on. These acts of indiscipline engage by the schools disrupt learning and have direct impact on students’ achievement. This has enabled the researcher to pose the question: have parents, school counselors and religious organizations in schools abandoned or neglected their duties in nurturing their children of becoming acceptable citizens of the community and the future? With this nonchalant attitude, teachers find it difficult to motivate their learners to learn because they equally lack peace and motivation within the school.