The rapid increase in all facet of Nigerian economic, social, political and educational system is so alarming. There should also be a corresponding increase in the turn out of manpower. The Nigerian educational system should be alert in the training of qualified manpower to meet with the increase. The setback in our educational system has an adverse effect on Nigeria national growth and development, since the growth and development of any nation is dependent upon by the level of their educational system.
Hoxby (2000), cited factors contributing to pupils poor academic performance especially in primary schools to include; lack of teachers, inadequate guidance and counselling services, location of the school and the size of the class. The situation in our primary schools in so frustrating in terms of lack of teachers to meet up with the recommended pupils’/teacher ratio for effective teaching and learning. Classrooms and offices are in dilapidating condition and all these have adverse effect on pupils’ performance in primary schools. He further stressed that class size refers to the total number of pupils assigned to and enrolled in a specific class under the direction of a specific teacher. Hanson (2001) found out that pupils academic ability of intelligence begins in the first year of life and that poor academic performance depends on the pre-school experience and size of the class. Maclean (2000), stated emphatically that environmental influence on intelligence is an important factor which promotes the learning ability of pupils. It is widely accepted that pupils in school setting function under a very wide area of individual differences. The fact is that some of the pupils are fast learners while some are slow learners, the teachers could make a great mistake if he/she takes the whole class as one homogenous group. The fast learners must be allowed to progress at their own rate while slow learners should be allowed to go at their pace. This is only possible when individual attention is given, this calls for individual approach to teaching, taking into consideration the size of the class.
Consequently, in Nigerian primary schools, the ratio of class size is about 1.50, this poses a different task to the teacher to give equal attention to all the pupils (Hoxby, 2000). In situation like this, the academic performance is bound to be low, but when the ratio of class size is 1:25:30 as stated in the national policy on education, the teacher will confidently give proper attention to all the pupils, hence the academic performance will be improved. Glass (2007). Opined that in a small class setting, the teacher can study the behaviour and performance of individual pupils in the class.
However, if pupils must be made to develop their academic potentialities properly, class size have to be well taken care of in Nigerian primary schools. In the present study, the researcher is addressing the influence of class size on pupils academic performance in primary schools.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
With the introduction of free and compulsory universal basic education in Akwa Ibom State, the size of the class in our primary schools have seriously increased without a corresponding increase in the number of teachers. Hoxby (2000), attributed the poor academic performance of pupils in primary schools to inadequate guidance and counseling services, lack of teaching / learning facilities and lack of teachers to reduce large number of pupils under one teacher. This poses a very serious problem in the school system and as such academic performance of pupils and standard of education generally have fallen. This is why the researcher is intrigue to find out if class size influences academic performance of pupils in primary schools in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area.