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This study measured the ambient noise levels in twenty schools (both primary and secondary) in Zaria to document the level of noise in the schools, variation that occur during the day and its effects on teaching and learning process. Noise levels (A-weighted decibels) were measured using Extech 407732 sound level meter. A total of 574 questionnaires were administered, which involved 419 students and 155 teachers, to assess occupational and teaching related outcome. These schools were chosen to cover heavy and light traffic roads, as well as those submerged into residential buildings. The questionnaires were validated by experts in the Faculty of Education and tested for its internal consistency using Cronbach alpha (0.848 for teachers and 0.700 for students). Manual traffic count was carried out around schools that identified traffic noise as their main source of noise exposure. The data obtained was used to compute Equivalent Continuous Level (Leq.), Noise Pollution Level (LNP), Noise Climate (NC), and Percentile Noise Levels (L10, L50, L90). The result shows that the indoor and outdoor noise levels in primary and secondary schools is high ranging between 71.5 - 95.9 dBA, 59.1 - 98.7 dBA (Indoor) and 75.5 - 93.1 dBA, 70.4 - 98.5 dBA (Outdoor) respectively. The traffic noise index (TNI) ranged between 64.3 - 122.7 dBA and 54.5 - 123.1 dBA for primary and secondary schools respectively. These values exceeded the World Health Organization (1980) and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (2007) noise level limit of 35 dBA and 55 dBA for indoor and outdoor noise levels in academic environment. At 95% confidence level, the mean of the paired samples are the same. There was no statistically significant change in the Leq. from morning to afternoon in the schools (P = 0.299 and 0.980). Similarly, there was no significant difference in the level of noise pollution in Primary and Secondary Schools (P = 0.895). There was no significant difference in the traffic, indoor, and outdoor noise levels. Over 94.2% of the teachers complained that noise affected their teaching and 92.6% of the students reported that noise affected their learning ability. They reported tiredness, lack of concentration, communication interference, voice masking, low speech intelligence among the major problems. About 55.5% reportedly said they are not aware of noise pollution. It was concluded that students and teachers in public schools in Zaria are exposed to high decibel of noise. This affects the process of teaching and learning. It was recommended that noise barriers should be installed into the buildings and overcrowding in classrooms should be avoided.


Noise - Noise is an unwanted sound.

Sound - Sound is a form of energy emitted by vibrating body and on reaching the ear it causes the sensation of hearing through nerves.

Decibel - It is measurement unit of sound, represented by dB. It is a unit to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of a sound signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale. This is a logarithmic unit used to express the ratio of two values of a physical quantity.

Traffic Noise Index – This is the measure of annoyance responses to traffic noise which takes into account the traffic flow.

Noise Percentiles (L10, 50, & 90) -The sound levels exceeding 10%, 50%, and 90% of the total time intervals during a particular period and are designated as L10, L50 and L90 respectively.

A-weighted Scale - It resembles the audible response of human ear. It is represented as dB (A).

Noise Pollution Level – This is the measure of noise level that gives the vibration in sound signal with a fluctuating noise.

Equivalent Sound Level (Leq.) – It is the constant noise level that expends the same amount of energy as the fluctuating level over the same period of time. It is the total energy response by the human ear and indicator of physiological disturbance to the human mechanism.

Noise Climate – This is the range over which the sound levels are fluctuating in an interval of time.

Reliability – Reliability is an index that estimates consistency of scores measured by the questionnaire.

Validity - This is the degree to which the questionnaire measures what it is supposed to measure.



Noise is any undesired sound, either one that is intrinsically objectionable or one that interferes with other sounds that are being listened to (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012). The extent to which noise is annoying depends on many factors such as the pitch irregularities, duration, rhythm and unexpectedness or whether the noise has any meaning for the particular observer (Ebeniro and Abumere, 1999). Noise become an unjustifiable interferences and imposition upon human health, comfort and quality of human life (Gorai and Pal, 2006).

Society has attempted to regulate noise since the early days of the Romans, who by decree prohibited the movement of chariots in the streets at night (Goines and Hagler, 2007). But it was not until the late 1960s that people started to protest against a specific highway or airport and claimed that citizens must be protected from the adverse impact of noise pollution followed by passage of nuisance lawsuits in different parts of the world (Yuhazri et al., 2010). Things changed rapidly in the United States as the Federal Government officially recognized noise as a pollutant and began to support noise research and regulation. Consequently, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 and the Noise Pollution and Abatement Act (more commonly called the Noise Control Act (NCA)) of 1972 came into existence (Firdaus and Ahmad, 2010). Afterward, various European countries such as The Netherlands (1979), France (1985), Spain (1993) and Denmark (1994), etc. formulated national laws governing noise.

Noise caused by traffic is the nuisance that is most often cited by roadside residents. School administrations and students living in the proximity of roadways will increasingly perceive noise problems (Avsar and Gonullu, 2001). The effect of environmental noise on growing children has become one of the most important problems, because the personality, mentality and physique of children are being formed particularly at this early age. According to the some of the studies, students’ performance and behaviours can be changed both in high noisy ambience and quiet ambience (Sargent et al., 1980). The higher outdoor noise causes the higher indoor noise in classrooms. Disturbance from the outdoor noise is increased in hot seasons in the classrooms, especially when the windowpanes are open (Avasr and Gonullu, 2005).

Environmental challenges vary considerably among schools around the world, across countries and within communities (World Health Organization, 2004). Nowadays, children experience a key part of their childhood in their school and it forms one of their principal social activities and setting (Alsubaie, 2014). The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion stated that “health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play and live” (WHO, 1987). World Health Organization defines a health-promoting school as “one that constantly strengthens its capacity as healthy setting for living, learning and working” (WHO, 2014). The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a “healthful school environment” as “one that protects students and staff against immediate injury or disease and promotes activities and attitudes against known risk factors that might lead to future disease or disability” (America Academy of Pediatrics, 1993). The school environment encompasses the social, physical and biological factors. Learning in classrooms is mainly facilitated through verbal and auditory communication between teachers and students (Flexer and Long, 2003).

Zannin et al. (2012) said the long and arduous process of individual and collective education takes place primarily in classrooms. It is here that contact is established between teachers and students and between individual students and their peers. It is here that knowledge is transmitted in its most ancient form, i.e., through oral communication. The quality of this communication, and ultimately, of classroom education itself, is closely linked to the acoustic quality of the classroom. This acoustic quality can be characterized based on the reverberation time, speech transmission index, sound insulation, and the noise levels inside and outside the classroom (Zannin and Zwirtes, 2009). High noise levels in the classroom impair oral communication, causing students to become tired sooner more often, and this premature fatigue tends to have a negative effect on their cognitive skills (Hagen et al., 2002).

School is also an important microenvironment just like home and work place. The school is important for the cognitive, creative, and social development of children. Schools are therefore expected to ensure the best possible conditions for child’s physical and intellectual development, including control of excess environmental noise (Ana et al., 2009).

Environmental pollution becomes more severe and widespread due to population growth, urbanization and industrialization in the cities (Ralte and Lalramnghinglova, 2013). There are many factors which cause the environment to be polluted and one of those undesired and unpleasant factor is ‘noise’ which affects the quality of life (Haq et al., 2014). Noise pollution is one of the major problems for developing countries. There is a need to control the noise exposure levels in sensitive areas as hospitals, schools, and kindergartens (Mitra, 2008; Oyedepo and Abdullahi, 2009; Noori and Zand, 2013; Amin et al., 2014; Marriscal-Rammires et al., 2014; Mukhola, 2014).

Noise as pollution is said to occur when the noise level is above the maximum permissible level for a given environment (WHO, 1980; FEPA, 1991). The most important measurement of noise is its loudness. This loudness depends on the physical sound pressure that is measured on the sensitivity of the human ear which in turn depends on the frequency of the sound (Levitt, 2001). Noise pollution has become an important environmental problem in that this problem has negative impacts on public health both physically and psychologically (Aparicio-Ramon et al., 1993; Yoshida et al., 1997; Buchta and Vos, 1998; Kura et al., 1999; Ali and Tamura, 2003; Stansfeld and Matheson, 2003).

There have been many attempts to reduce noise pollution in many countries (Arana and Garcia, 1998; Onuu, 2000; Zannin et al., 2002; Li et al., 2002; Morillas et al., 2002; Kumbur et al., 2003; Yilmaz and Ozer, 2005; Ozyonar and Peker, 2008; Pathak et al., 2008; Allen et al., 2009). Due to urbanization and industrialization, noise pollution has gained attention and as an environmental hazard rated third to air and water pollutions (Singh and Davar, 2004). Apart from the psychosocial effects of community noise, there is a growing concern about the impact of noise on public health, particularly regarding cardiovascular outcomes (Passchier-Vermeer and Passchier, 2000).

Recently, noise pollution has been of increasing concern worldwide, particularly in the urban centres (Banerjee et al., 2008; Ana et al., 2009; Goswami et al., 2011; Olayinka, 2013; Jamir et al., 2014). Many studies addressing the problem of noise pollution in educational institutes throughout the world have been conducted (Ana et al., 2009; Golmohammadi et al., 2010; Woolner and Hall, 2010; Debnath et al., 2012; Alsubaie, 2014). The auditory system of the teachers and students continuously analysing acoustic information, which is filtered and interpreted by different cortical and sub-cortical brain structures (WHO, 2009). Arousal of the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system is associated with repeated temporal changes in biological responses. In the long run, chronic noise stress may affect the homeostasis of the organism due to dysregulation, incomplete adaptation and/or the physiological costs of the adaptation (Spreng, 2000).

Ikenberry (1974) has analysed some effects of noise pollution to school students and found that the students find it difficult to hear the teacher, lectures, classroom discussions, and other activities. Klatte et al. (2013) in their research work showed that students can perform better under quiet environments than under noisy ones. Debnath et al. (2012) stated that noise pollution produces multi-problems to the teaching-learning process and negatively affects the performance of both teachers and students.

Significant increase in the population of urban centres has been witnessed in Nigeria within the last decade. This increase has influenced the lifestyle of the citizenry contributing to the increase in noise pollution (Abel, 2015). Urbanization and industrialization have contributed greatly to noise pollution in recent time without adequate consideration of its effects in the future to come.

1.1 Statement of Research Problem

The noise problems of the modern industrial societies seem incomparable to the past given the larger sources of noise now present outdoors and indoors. Traffic noise is one of the main sources of environmental noise exposure in urban communities (WHO, 2001). Noise pollution has been recognized as one of the major threats confronting the world today. The WHO in 2005 revealed that noise is a dangerous agent which affects human health and the environment (Zanin et al., 2006). Noise pollution has become problematic yet an unnoticed form of pollution in most developing countries (Essandoh et al., 2011). In the recent years, transportation has created excessive noise pollution which is displeasing the activity or balance of human and animal life. Noise can damage physiological and psychological health of Human being (Bharanthan et al., 2007). Noise exposures have been linked to a range of non-auditory effects including annoyance, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular diseases, and impairment of cognitive performances in children (Basner et al., 2014). People in Nigeria do not pay significant attention to the seriousness of noise pollution and its dangerous environmental consequences (Anomohanran, 2013). In Nigeria, there is no legal frame work upon which noise pollution can be abated. Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) in Nigeria only provided daily noise exposure limits for workers in industry (i.e. 90 dB (A) for 8h exposure). In short, the Nigerian Government and her citizenry appear not to be conscious of the present and future impacts of noise induced health hazards in their environment. Unless and until measures are taken to control the level of noise, the ongoing urbanization and industrialization may complicate the problem so much that it becomes incurable (Olayinka, 2013).

The harmful effects of noise on human health and development have been underestimated for a relatively long time. The need for studies regarding urban noise pollution and its consequences on the environment has motivated various researchers on the problem in several countries (Zheng, 1996; Zeid et al., 2000; Ugwuanyi et al., 2005; Armah et al., 2010; Thangadurai et al., 2015). But few research has been done to assess the level of noise pollution in primary and secondary schools that mostly do not have well designed architectural plans like the universities.

1.2 Justification

Although noise pollution is attracting attention of policy makers, but not much attention has been given to noise associated with educational institutions. However, several researches on noise pollution in higher institutes of learning have been conducted (Norlander et al., 2005; Kang et al., 2011; Debnath et al., 2012; Ozer et al., 2014; Turumen et al., 2014; Sowah et al., 2014; Puglisi et al., 2015). This study, therefore, would be expected to bring to the fore, the status of noise pollution and its effects on teaching and learning process in the area of study. It will also set to the backdrop for further studies in order to identify some possible environmental problems that can affect students and their process of learning.

The data that was obtained on the level and effects of noise pollution will form a baseline for further studies and will provide regulatory agencies, State and Federal governments with valuable information on the promulgation of policies that will prevent indiscriminate build-ups of business centres around schools.

1.3 Aims:

The aim of this research is to assess the level of noise pollution and its effect on teaching and learning processes in primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

1.4 Research Objectives:

The objectives of this research are to determine the:

i. Level of noise in primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

ii. Difference between the equivalent continuous sound energy level (Leq.) in the morning and afternoon in primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

iii. Difference between the indoor, outdoor and traffic noise indices.

iv. Effect of noise pollution on teaching and learning in the schools.

1.5 Hypotheses

i. There is no significant difference in the level of noise pollution in primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

ii. There is no significant difference in the indoor morning and afternoon Leq. in primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

iii. There is no significant difference between indoor noise, outdoor noise and TNI across primary and secondary schools in Zaria.

iv. Noise pollution has no significant effect on teaching and learning process in the schools to be studied.

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