Mercy mnzava mulela

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The undersigned certifies to have read and hereby recommends for acceptance by Open University of Tanzania, a dissertation entitled: “Effects of availability and use of laboratories on students performance in science subjects in community secondary schools”; for the Master Degree in Education Administration, Planning and Policy Studies in Kinondoni Municipality.


Prof I M Omari





“No part of this dissertation may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, mechanical or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the author or Open University of Tanzania in that behalf.”


I, Mercy Mnzava Mulela, do hereby declare to the senate of Open University of Tanzania that the content of this dissertation is my original work which has never been submitted and will not be submitted for a similar degree in any other University.






I owe my first thanks to Almighty God, the most Holly graceful, perfect and with limitless mercy, who helped me to attain this level of educational achievement. I greatly remain indebted to my beloved family; my husband Godwin and children, Noel, David, Michael and Esther who missed my love and care during the period of my study. My profound gratitude goes to my supervisor Professor I. M. Omari for his guidance, patience, moral support and constructive ideas that shaped this study. His assistance and encouragement from the scratch of the research proposal development to the time of production of this dissertation have been very critical to what I have achieved.

I extend my gratitude to the Open University of Tanzania, especially to all staff of Post-graduate Studies, who in one way or other contributed to success of my accomplishment of this work. Last but not least I am grateful to all respondents who cooperated with me during the data collection exercise.


This study was designed to examine effects of availability and use of laboratories on students’ performance in science subjects in community secondary schools. The study was conducted in six community secondary schools in Kinondoni municipality. The study examined the availability of laboratories, examine the use of laboratories, and assess the availability of science teachers, and science teachers ’perceptions how laboratories availability influence students’ performance in science subjects. The problem was that students’ performance in science subjects is appalling in community secondary schools. Survey research design was used and the study employed quantitative approaches where observation, checklist, school records and likert scales were used for data collection. The sample of the study included 6 heads of schools, 6 schools and 36 science teachers. The data were analyzed using frequency, percentages and ratio. Findings revealed that schools did not have laboratories; instead they had science rooms which lacked laboratory space. It was noted that apparatus and chemicals were either insufficient or absent in all sampled schools; instead schools improvised those equipment by using locally available materials in their environment. Experiments were done in large groups with little students. There was an acute shortage of science teachers. It was recommended that, policy makers need to ensure that students enrolment should match with the availability of laboratory facilities, more laboratory need to be built in schools and more science teachers be trained.


Table 3.1: Students Enrollment in Kinondoni Municipality Sampled Schools 25

Table 3.2: Sample Composition for the Study 25

Table 4.1: Availability of Laboratories in Community Secondary Schools 31

Table 4.2 Availability of Apparatus in Sampled School 37

Table 4.3: Laboratory Chemicals in six Sampled Schools 39

Table 4.4: Availability of Models in the six Sampled Schools 41

Table 4.5: Availability of Science Teachers in Sampled Schools 49

Table 4.6: Performance of Students in CSEE 2010 – 2012 for Science Subjects 50

Table 4.7: Pass Grades in Science Subjects in the Year 2011 and 2012 51

Table 4.8 Teachers’ Perceptions on the Availability of Laboratories (N=36) 53

Table 4.9: Teachers’ Perceptions on Use of Laboratories 55


Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework 9

Figure 4.1: Laboratory at Turiani Secondary School 32

Figure 4.2: Cupboard for Storing Ammeter, Voltmeter and Chemicals at Oysterbay Secondary School 33

Figure 4.3: Bench for Storing Apparatuses at Mtakuja Secondary School 34

Figure 4.4: Cupboard at Turiani Storing Volume Measuring Apparatus 34

Figure 4.5: Ammeter and Voltmeter Stored in a Cupboard at Bunju A Secondary School 35

Figure 4.6: Chemicals Stored on a Bench at Mugabe Secondary School 40

Figure 4.7: Place of Articulation Model at Bunju A Secondary school 41

Figure 4.8: Models of Ear, Heart, Kidney and Eye at Kawe Ukwamani Secondary School 4 42

Figure 4.9: Alimentary Canal at Turiani Secondary School 43

Figure 4.10: Biological Specimen Preserved at Mugabe Secondary School 43

Figure 4.11: A Practical Class in an open Air space: Preparation of Chlorine Gas at Oysterbay Secondary School 46

Figure 4.12 Group Performingan Experiment at Mtakuja Secondary School 47


1.1 Background to the Problem

This study dealt with an assessment of the effect of availability and use of laboratory on student performance in science subjects in Community Secondary school (CSS) in Tanzania. The science subjects involved in the study are Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The chapter comprises of the background, statement of the problem, purpose and objective of the study, research tasks and questions, significance of the study, delimitation of the study and conceptual framework.

A good system of education in any country must be effective on two fronts: First, the quantitative level is used to ensure access to education and quality in distribution and allocation of resources to various segments of the society, and second, on the qualitative level to ensure that the country produces the skills needed for rapid social and economic development (United Republic of Tanzania, 1995).The development of Universal Primary Education(UPE) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has drawn widespread international support because of its perceived role in poverty reduction (United Nations 2008).
The expansion of secondary school education in developing countries is now seen as a major priority due to its importance in linking primary education to tertiary education and further professional development as well as its role in responding to the demands of globalization and its potential to build skills for transforming livelihoods (World Bank, 2005; Association of Development of Education in Africa, (ADEA), 2007 &African Human Development Department, (AHDD), 2007).

The challenges of education development in SSA at the beginning of the twenty first century are unprecedented. Faced with persistent gaps in coverage of primary schooling, almost all countries have launched major efforts to ensure that all children will have the opportunity to complete a primary education of acceptable quality (Mosha, 2012). At the same time, governments are committed to expand access to further learning. The Education Sector Development Programme (EDSP-2001) implementation of free primary education to achieve Education for All (EFA, 2000) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has exerted pressure on government to expand chances for secondary education. The achievement of UPE has translated into greater demands on human resources for the education sector. This has resulted in increased demand for teachers, and graduate teachers in particular.

In response, the government of Tanzania launched the Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP) in 2004 attempting to expand secondary education (URT, 2004). The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) provided guidelines for establishing new secondary schools whether privately or community owned. The educational inspectors used these criteria for assessing whether the new schools could be registered or not. One of the required facilities are two laboratories with furniture in each all school.
The government of Tanzania aimed at having at least one secondary school in each ward, and the number of community owned secondary schools increased remarkably from 1202 in 2004 to 3216 in 2010 (URT,2010). On the one hand, this increased number of secondary schools in the country is a great achievement. But on the other hand, it is a challenge for the government on how the increased number of schools and students maintains the quality of education. Despite the guidelines, most of these schools neither have proper laboratories nor laboratory equipment for conducting practical lessons for science subjects (Kibga, 2004, 2013). The main focus in this study was to examine the effects of availability and use of laboratories on student performance in science subjects at the ordinary level secondary education.
Expanding access, equity and improving quality and relevance at the same time are twin challenges faced by the secondary school education system throughout the developing countries (World Bank, 2005, Chimombo, 2005, Babaci& Geo-JaJa, 2011). After the implementation of SEDP, the increase of community secondary schools and the expansion of enrolment of students could not match with the demand for science teachers. Science teachers leading the demand in the year 2008 there were shortage of science subjects, shortage teachers in Biology subject was 3672 teachers which is equivalent to 71%, in Chemistry subject was 3705 teachers which was equivalent to 72% and in Physics was 5212 teachers which is equivalent to 75% (Omari, 2013). This situation does not give hope in the near future that secondary schools will have enough science teachers and student will be able to learn science as indicated in the syllabus. This implies that unless the government and other stakeholders find alternative ways of training more science teachers for secondary education, these few available teachers will not meet the demand of secondary education even with the current teaching and learning resources.
Various studies have been conducted on the problem relating to science education delivery in Tanzanian secondary schools, in which availability and use of laboratories is highlighted (Chonjo, Osaki, Posi & Mrutu, 1996; Mafumiko, 1998; Chonjo & Welford 2001; Richard 2005, Kibga, 2004). These studies established that among the problems associated with science education delivery are lack of resources such as laboratories, equipment, apparatus, inadequate teachers and inadequacy of technical support in laboratory based teaching. This may cause schools not to properly play the role of delivering science education. Science teaching requires special approach in laboratories instruction skills, management skills and laboratory procedures such as handling of chemicals and repair of equipment. Furthermore, Kibga (2004) found that practical classes had no preliminary preparation done, so students wasted a lot of time to collect apparatus from laboratory store before setting experiments.
Since the examination of science subjects currently consists of two papers namely Paper 1 (theory oriented) and Paper 2 (practical), how these practical examinations can be done during exams as well as the teaching and learning process if laboratories are absent remains a question with no clear answer. There is a direct relationship between the availability and use of laboratories in schools on the one hand and the performance in science subjects examinations on the other. The performance in science subjects in ward secondary schools in Tanzania is dismal compared to those schools that have been around for a long time.
In this study the main focus is to investigate whether the availability or in-availability of laboratories in CSS has any link with the academic performance. Shortage of laboratories equipment in secondary schools in Tanzania has been increasingly recognized as an important barrier in improving the quality of science education (Ndabise, 2008).
1.2 Statement of the Problem

The government of Tanzania took the initiative to establish community secondary schools in every ward through the Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDP) since 2004. This initiative resulted in an expansion of education places that had not been observed before in secondary education. However, in spite of the massive expansion of secondary education, it is not clear whether this quantitative expansion was associated with the provision of adequate facilities, including laboratories. Although there are some criteria established for schools to be registered, such as availability of library, classrooms and two laboratories with furniture, among others, the availability and use of laboratory facilities in CSS does not seem to have been in accordance to laid down guidelines.

This follows the experienced reality where students’ performance in science subjects is appalling in CSS. The performance of students in science subjects for the year 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for CSS has tended to be lower compared to performance in the same subjects in other schools. Such a scenario causes the need for a study to establish if performance of students in science subjects has any relationship with availability and use of laboratories. The government knows the importance of science in supporting sustainable development, that is why it insists on science and technology in its Education and Training Policy (ETP) (URT, 1995). Quality science education requires students to perform experiments with their own hands. The learning and practice of science cannot be achieved in the environment which does not give emphasis on practical and hands on activities in schools. Students are supposed to do both theory and practical learning activities. Nevertheless, since science is an activity based subject, its effective teaching and learning cannot be feasible unless it is enriched with practical activities. Practical activities must occupy greater part of the time allocated to science subjects than the chalk and talk method of teaching the theoretical aspects. This study therefore intended to assess the availability and use of laboratory in Tanzania CSS.
1.3 Purpose and Objectives of the Study

General Objective is to examine the relationship between the availability and use of laboratories and students’ performance in community secondary schools in science subjects namely Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Specifically, the study was guided by the following specific objectives:

  1. To assess the availability of laboratory facilities in community secondary schools.

  2. To assess the use of laboratories in community secondary schools.

  3. To assess how the availability of human resource influence performance in science subjects.

  4. To explore science teachers’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance.

1.4.ResearchTasks and Questions

This study was guided by the following research tasks and questions

Research task 1:To determine the extent of availability of laboratories in the established Community Secondary schools in Tanzania.

Research Questions

  1. To what extent are laboratories available in the ward schools established in Tanzania?

  2. To what extent are laboratories in ward schools sufficient for conducting practical lessons?

Research task 2: To assess the extent to which laboratories are used in the teaching and learning of science subjects in ward schools.
Research Questions

  1. How often are laboratories used for conducting practical lessons?

  2. How are practical lessons linked with real life application of skills learned to determine acquisition of competences among students?

Research task 3: To assess the influence of human resources qualifications on students’ performance in science subjects.
Research Questions

  1. What is the degree of availability of qualified science teachers in the ward schools in Tanzania?

  2. To what extent do secondary school science teachers in ward schools qualify to teach form 3 and 4 classes as per the policy guidelines?

Research task 4: To explore science teachers’ perceptions on the effects of availability or non- availability of laboratories and equipment on students’ performance in examinations.

Research Questions

  1. What are the teachers’ opinions on influence of availability of laboratories on their role of teaching?

  2. What challenges do teachers face in using laboratories for practical lessons?

1.5,Significance of the Study

Finding of this study are expected to be useful since science teaching and learning is essential for success of any nation, as there is a direct relationship between achievement in science and technology on one hand and economic growth of any given country on the other. Findings of these study will also benefit the MoEVT in planning and budgeting so as to provide enough funds to support science subjects in schools, building laboratories, train more science teachers, purchase adequate teaching and learning resources including books, teaching model, laboratory equipment, apparatus and chemicals. Furthermore, findings will hopefully influence further research on how use of laboratories may promote learning of science for development of the nation.

1.6 Limitations of the study

The study was restricted to one out of eleven school inspection zone, the Dar es salaam zone in which one district, the Kinondoni municipality was sampled for the study. The study was only concerned with CSS. Period of observation was short so not sure if laboratory always used. The little time that was available to researcher was well planned and full utilized to gather as much relevant data as possible. The study involved only one district, thus the finding from such a small sample may not generalizable to all secondary schools in Tanzania.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study

The study was undertaken in community secondary schools which come out due to SEDP. Due to limit time the study take a small sample in Kinondoni municipal.

1.8 Conceptual Framework

A model of four categories of variables, guided the framework for this study, the researcher has adopted Stufflebeam’s model (1971) (figure 1.1). The model explains various issues of interactive system such as context, input, process and product variables. The context is system of education, directives in laboratories, poor exam results. Inputs refers to basic requirements for the proper and effective use laboratories in schools which includes availability of laboratories, financial resource, teachers, laboratory technicians, laboratory facilities and materials. Process refers to a set of activities used to improve teaching and learning processes, which include teaching and learning methods, practical lessons in laboratory, management of laboratory and technicians role.





-System of education

- directives on laboratories

- rapid expansion of secondary schools

- Financial resource

  • Teachers

  • Laboratory facilitiesand materials

  • Laboratory technicians

-practical lessons in laboratories

  • Management of laboratories

-Job performance

  • Academic performance due to use/misuse of laboratories

Figure 1.1 Conceptual Framework

Source: Stufflebeam ( 1971)
Products are results coming from processes that can be observed. Also products depend on the inputs that were put in place. In this study, products consist of improvement of academic performance due to use/misuse of laboratories and job performance. The major components of the overall conceptual framework are summarized in Figure 1.1
1.9 Organization of the Study

The study is organized into six chapters. Chapter one provides an introduction to the study, it presents introduction, background, purpose and objective of the study, research tasks and questions, significance of the study, delimitation of the study limitation of study and conceptual framework. Chapter two is the literature review. While chapter three presents the research methodology used, chapter four provides data presentation and analysis procedures. Chapter five presents discussion of the research findings and chapter six comprises summary, conclusions and recommendations.



2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the review of literature related to availability and use of laboratories in community secondary schools in relation to performance in Tanzania. It presents the concept and rationale for teaching science, concept of community secondary schools, approaches of teaching and learning science, practical work, the role of practical work in teaching and learning of science subjects, practical science in schools and knowledge gaps.

2.2 The Concept and Rationale for Teaching Science

Scientists have defined science in many ways. Science is knowledge about how nature works, revealed by careful, objective observation and measurement. Science is a system of knowledge about the universe through data collection by observation and controlled experiment. As data are collected, theories are advanced and account for what has been observed. Today, the study of science is not only concerned with what we know, or content, but also how we come to know it, or process. Also the study of science is not only to produce scientists, but also to produce scientifically literate citizens who can fit into high technological modern world.

Across the world, science is increasingly being viewed as of life-long subject to all students whether or not they enter science related careers. A more science literate populace is perceived as being better equipped to sustainable economic development and to the social welfare. Science is very important in the development of any country. Knowing that, UNESCO in 1966, urged all countries in the world including Tanzania to modernize science education so as to accelerate social and economic development in developing countries (UNESCO, 1966).Science is essential for the success of any nation since there is a direct relationship between achievement in science and economic growth of any given country.
There are many factors to consider when attempting to improve students achievement in science. These include the availability of laboratory, scientific equipment and the quality of science teacher. Science practical in schools is supposed to prepare students to be able to solve different problems in their own society including the use of science knowledge in agriculture and efficient energy use. The country development plans which are highlighted in Tanzania’s Development vision 2025 cannot be achieved if science subjects are ignored in secondary schools. For example one of the stated goals in vision 2025 aims at attaining high quality livelihood for all Tanzanian which will allow people to use science and technology in daily life (URT, 2001).
2.3 The Concept of Community Secondary Schools

Community Secondary Schools were built jointly by Local Government and the parents in the communities, where the government was responsible for provision of both physical and human resource to these schools. Literature shows that there was no community schools in Tanzania until the year 1984, when two schools were established (Chediel, Sekwao & Kirumba, 2000). In 1999 there were 350 Community Secondary Schools. These secondary schools were not enough to meet the high demand of the large output of students from primary schools resulting from PEDP from 2002 up to 2007. The Government through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) then established Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP) in 2004, with the aim of increasing the enrolment and access of primary school leavers to secondary schools. The government directed each ward to have at least one Community Secondary School. One of the aims of establishing these schools were also to improve science education and out of science graduates.

2.4 Approaches of Teaching and Learning Science

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching and learning can occur when a variety of teaching methods are used. Teaching approaches such as cooperative or group learning approach, inquiry, project lecture-demonstration approach and experiments, problem solving approach have been recommended for teaching science subjects. Using inquiry-based instruction allows children to improve their ability to reason and provides experiences that enhance the early stages of cognitive development. Students are encouraged to work in small groups for maximum participatory and cooperative learning (URT, 2010a).

Giving students direct contact with scientific investigations helps to prepare them for life, which is proving to be an increasing complex scientific and technological world. Students are better able to understand the natural world when they work directly with natural phenomena, constructing their knowledge as they go along as opposed to experiencing it only through print materials. Students involved in inquiry-based programs increase their creativity, have better attitudes toward science subjects, and have improved logic development, communication skills and reading readiness. Students who are exposed to inquiry approach to science express a more positive attitude to learning all areas, show increased enjoyment of school, and have increased skill proficiency in many areas, including independent thinking abilities, than those students in the tradition way, based on lecture method and chalk on board.
2.5 Science Practical as a Teaching Mode

Practical work in science has evolved through a series of stages over recent years. According to Gott & Duggan (2007) there has been a tendency for most practical works to be illustrated in nature, characterized by a teacher demonstrating a concept or law, or by guiding learners to discover concepts or laws themselves. Practical work later involved more open-ended investigations which were still laboratory based tasks. Learners were encouraged to design their own investigations, collect and interpret their data, though it was in more contrived context.

Practical activities make learning more real than abstract, more enjoyable than boring and above all skills ideas, knowledge and attitudes are easily acquired and readily put into practice. In addition, according to Watson (2000), despite changes in the kind of practical work done over time, in all studies the aims remains more popular, to encourage accurate observation and careful recording, to make phenomena greatly real; to arouse as well as maintain interest; and promote a logical as well as reasoning method.
2.6 The Role of Practical Work in Teaching and Learning of Science Subjects

Science is different from other disciplines by its processes which are observations, classification, measurement, prediction, problem identification, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, drawing conclusion and experimentation. Practical work plays an important role in teaching and learning science. Apart from helping students to gain insights into scientific knowledge, it also helps them to acquire a number of scientific skills, namely cognitive and manipulative, and not to mention motivational factors it creates in the student. The attainment of these goals, however, depends on the way practical work is organized. Mafumiko (2006) argues that practical work forms essential component of science education provision in secondary schools in Tanzania. Ideally (in the official curriculum) every class at both O-level and A-level is supposed to do practical work. In terms of assessment, it constitutes 40 percent of final examination grade for both Form IV and Form VI.

Abrahams & Millar (2008) emphasize that not only does practical work with real objects and materials help us to communicate information and ideas about the natural world, but also they provide opportunities to develop students’ understanding and scientific approach to inquiry. Millar (2004) explains that the role of practical work in teaching and learning of science content is also to help students make link between two domains of knowledge, the domain of objects and observable properties and event on the hand, and the domain of ideas on the other. How successful any practical activity may be depends on the intended learning objectives. Therefore, the teacher has to make sure what he /she does in the laboratory during practical activity is to ensure that it links the students’ two domains of knowledge.
Mustapha (2002) clams that the importance of practical in science subjects is that it provides learners opportunities to use scientific equipment to develop basic manipulative skills and practice investigative or enquiry activities, and develop problem solving attitudes needed to future work in science. According to Omosewo (2006) a deeper understanding of the science and technology process can be achieved through laboratory activities, which encourages active participation and serve to develop critical thinking. It also provides concrete experiences to substantiate the theoretical aspect that has been taught.
Usmani (2011) believes that students with a lot of practical experience are much more likely to perform well than those with limited practical skills. This it implies that there is a strong relationship between theories and practical meaning that performance of students in one could be used to determine performance in the other. Students also see practical work as being both effective in terms their learning and enjoyment of science. One cannot imagine science being taught without experimental work; but however necessary, such work is not sufficient (Petty, 2009).
2.7 Practical Sciences in Schools

Studies argue that laboratory-based teaching and learning (practical work) is more learner centered instructional approach. Motswiri (2004) indicates that the aim of teaching science should reflect the goals such as: provide concrete experiences and ways to help student confront their misconceptions, provide opportunities for data manipulation through the use of misconceptions, provide opportunities for developing skills in logical thinking and organization, especially with respect to science, technology and societal issues, and provide opportunity of building values especially those related to the nature of science. These science teaching goals through activity-based are applicable to all science subjects.

Practical teaching promotes the development of cognitive abilities such as; problem solving, analysis, generalizing, evaluating, decision making and creativity (Tilya 2003 & Mafumiko, 2006). Practical teaching and learning is essential for developing skills of various kinds; manipulative, inquiry, investigative, organizational and communicative. Practical teaching and learning helps students to more easily understand the concepts underlying scientific research such as, definition of scientific problem, hypothesis, assumption, prediction and conclusion. Further research has also shown that science instruction needs to consist of direct physical manipulation of objects, equipment and materials to be successful (Haury & Rillero, 1994). According to Kitta & Mafumiko (2009) effective science teaching and learning in schools needs well trained teachers who are obtained from both pre-service and in-service programmes.

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