The Implications of the incidence of dropouts in Selected Secondary Schools in Rivers State for Curriculum Development in Adult Education
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This ex-post facto study investigated the nature of the incidence of dropouts in secondary schools in Rivers State with the view to determining the sort of curriculum that should be developed for the youngsters who later enter the province of adult education. Twenty secondary schools approved for the West African School Certificate Examinations were selected by the stratified random technique to include rural and urban schools in the state. Both the sample (400 out of 686 dropouts) and the control subjects of same number were randomly selected from the schools' 1976 intake. In addition, 20 principals and 97 teachers participated in the study. Following review of the literature, five hypotheses were generated to direct collection of data and the principal instruments used were: questionnaires, interviews and analyses of relevant school records. In addition to analysis of variance, the data thus collected were tested by means of t-test and chi-square. The study revealed among other things that: (1) More dropouts occur in rural secondary schools than in secondary schools located in urban centres. (2) The parents of dropouts are mostly illiterates and semi-literates, and are largely self-employed. (3) Dropping out is no monopoly of students of any particular ordinal position in the family, however, more students from large families drop out than students from small-sized families. (4) Contrary to popular view, single-sex secondary schools particularly all female secondary schools have higher dropout rate than co-educational and all male secondary schools. In all, more female students drop out in the higher classes ( 3 - 5) while the male students dominate the scene in the lower classes. (5) Dropouts have low perception of education, prefer Arts and Commercial subjects to mathematics and science related subjects, and perform better in activities that require physical prowess than in pure academic undertakings. (6) Dropouts particularly those in rural areas have slim idea about activities that come under the umbrella of adult education. However they are desirous to participate in non-formal opportunities to improve their qualifications or acquire new skills needed by employers of labour. An analysis of above findings reveals that a client-centred or employment-oriented curriculum where the welfare of the youngsters will be central in selection of subject-matter is imperative. Such a curriculum must: (1) be tailored towards satisfaction of needs - physiological, social, ego-integrative, emotional, economic as well as educational; (2) embody opportunities for practical, vocational and technical experiences to compensate for the dropouts' lack of academic orientation; (3) be made relevant to real life situations particularly to the realities of the society; and (4) be devoid of any semblance of rigidity, there should be opportunity for interdisciplinary 'crossing of carpet.' The following non-formal opportunities can be adapted and utilized to meet the aspirations of secondary school dropouts: Job Corps centres, rural technology workshops, Agricultural Extension services, Farm settlement schemes, and remedial evening classes. Most importantly, the curriculum of adult education programmes should be properly developed in association with the curriculum of the formal school system so that one complements the other, and when a student becomes mal-adjusted in the latter, he merely transfers to the former. Under such an arrangement, the main change in his status will be from a youth to an adult. His educational programme may be modified or entirely different, but it will be continuing. Recommendations to contend the incidence of dropouts in secondary schools include, inter-alia, government take-over of all remedial evening classes; compulsory functional literacy and encouragement of an adult education service in every state to take care of the psycho-social problems facing 'academic casualties.'