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1.1 Background of the Study
Over the years, a considerable number people have contributed immensely to the development of economics. The subjects have expanded considerably covering all issues and problems relating to how the society uses its resources toward achieving a desirable standard. The importance of economics in nation building cannot be over-emphasized. The function of economics and its importance is on an increase, since without it, multiple transaction of a modern business would be impossible. The Federal, State and Local government apply the use of Commerce accounting and economics by mean of tax application to generate revenue for daily operational running.
The general notion about economics is that it is a very difficult and rigid subject to understand particularly when students are taking economics as subsidiary subject they are somehow a burden on them.
Economics have been defined by different people in different ways. Economics is the study of ways of making choices and allocating scarce resources to satisfy human wants. It is the study of how people and societies make decisions; allocate and manage scarce resources to achieve their needs. In this view, Hall, (2013) defined Economics as the study of how individuals, firms and whole societies identify their most important needs, allocate and manage scarce resources in such a way that satisfies as many needs as possible. Since resources are scarce while human wants are insatiable, Economics deal with the study of how people utilize scarce resources in face of unlimited wants.
Economic as a subject is the study of human attitudes towards satisfying their needs. Economics is concerned with human behaviour such as how people earn their living and make choices between alternatives to satisfy their wants; it focuses on the study of firms, accounting and trade. The government whose activities are geared towards the production of goods and services for the satisfaction of human want (Yusuf, 2012). Economics could then be seen as the study of human activities dealing with allocation of resources and production of goods and services for the satisfaction of human wants. It is a field of social science that studies how individuals, firms and governments make decisions and choices in face of unlimited wants and allocate scarce resources to their most important, pressing and preferred needs.
In Nigeria, Economy is taught in senior secondary school using Economics senior secondary school curriculum. Subjects related to it are accounting, economics and commerce. Economics curriculum has to do with all the experiences and activities provided by the teacher/school to the students in course of handling Economics in order to achieve the objectives of the subject (Economics). As documented by the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), (2008). The guiding principle of the Economics curriculum is the need to equip graduates of senior secondary school with the basic knowledge and skills that will enable them to better appreciate the nature of economic problems in any society and adequately prepare them for the challenges in the Nigerian economy.
The objectives of Economics curriculum according to FME, (2008) include enabling students:
_ Understand basic economic principles and concepts as well as the tools for sound economic analysis.
_ Contribute intelligently to discourse on economic reforms and development as they affect or would affect the generality of Nigerians.
_ Understand the structure and functioning of economic institutions.
_ Appreciate the role of public policies on national economy.
_ Develop the skills and also appreciate the basis for rational economic decisions.
_ Become sensitized to participate actively in national economic advancement through entrepreneurship, capital market and so on.
_ Understand the role and status of Nigeria and other African countries in international economic relationships.
_ Appreciate the problems encountered by developing countries in their effort towards economic advancement.
Economics is of great importance because it is a subject that has direct utility which prepares a student for a wide range of career options, ranging from business to government such as industries and other professional areas like Banking, Accountancy, and Planning (Hall, 2013). Therefore, the need for economic literacy is obvious because it is a subject that has relevance in individuals’ daily business transactions in life and could prepare secondary school students for an entrepreneurial career. It helps in equipping secondary school students with entrepreneurial skills to becoming useful citizens even if they do not further their education. According to Finkelstein (2011), high school graduates will be making economic choices all their lives, as breadwinners and consumers, and as citizens and voters and they will need some capacity for critical judgment, whether or not they go to college. Thus, it is of great importance that secondary school Economics curriculum is very interesting, enlightening, revealing and addresses important economic issues in the country for students to gain meaningfully from the experiences, knowledge and skills for real life activities. Whether students have gained meaningfully or not from the experiences, knowledge and skills provided through Economics curriculum can only be determined through the academic achievement of students in the subject matter. Students’ academic achievement shows the success or otherwise of an academic/educational endeavour.
Students’ academic achievement tends to show the efficacy or otherwise of schools and tends to determine the future of students. Aremu (2001), is of the view that academic achievement is a fundamental criterion by which all teaching-learning activities are measured, using some standards of excellence and the acquisition of particular grades in examinations to measure student’s ability, mastery of the content, and skills in applying the knowledge acquired to a particular situation. According to Ernest-Ehibudu & Opurum (2013), the measure for assessing students’ level of academic achievement is through achievement tests/examinations and observations.
In spite of the importance of Economics and the government’s provision in terms of instructional materials and qualified teachers (Federal Ministry of Education, FME, 2008), students’ achievement in Economics seems not to be encouraging. For example, the West African Examination Council Chief Examiner’s Report (2008 through 2012) revealed that the achievement of students in Economics at the end of secondary education has remained poor. Ojelabi, (2009) observed that researchers’ concern has risen due to the fact that students’ achievements in the Secondary School Certificate Economics has remained poor. Regrettably, Alaka and Obadara (2013) noted that there has been persistent poor achievement of students in West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). This poor achievement of students in Economics, a subject that aids in developing students’ critical and creative thinking is very disheartening. No wonder the seeming dysfunctional, non-creativity, non productivity and non-employability of secondary school graduates in the country. Various factors have been adduced for this poor achievement of students in Economics such as teaching methods and gender among others (Adu & Ayeni, 2004).
Teaching methods/approaches can make or mar students’ potentialities to learn and achieve. Teaching approaches and strategies have been put forward as one of the factors affecting students’ academic achievement. For example, Emaikwu, (2012) noted that the fall in standard of performance at secondary school level is attributable to pedagogical approaches adopted by teachers in schools. The selection of appropriate teaching approaches for a particular classroom situation enables the teacher and his/her students to accomplish specific goals (Kennedy, 2011). As such, Finkelstein (2011) stated that student’s achievement outcomes are of primary importance and are hypothesized to be mediated by changes in teacher’s knowledge and application of pedagogical practices in teaching-learning process. Observing the importance of teaching methods in teaching-learning process, Hussain and Ali, (2012) postulated that the content to teach is just like the body and the method is just like the soul in the body; the body without soul is of no importance, therefore teaching without the proper method of teaching has zero value. This implies that ineffective or non-students-participatory teaching methods result to little or no learning and the end product – poor or no achievement.
Therefore, in the light of the above discussions of the concepts and importance of Economics, this research work sets out to investigate the challenges confronting the teaching of Economics in Senior Secondary Schools in Pankshin Local Government of Plateau State with the aim of proffering lasting solutions.
1.2 Statement of Problem
It has been observed, that inspite of the importance of economics to nation building, the performance of students of senior secondary schools in the subject is not encouraging. To this end, the researchers noticed in the terminal examination results in different schools in Pankshin Local government in Plateau State during their teaching practice in the area.
Some of these problems as noticed by the researchers during their teaching practice include:
Lack of qualified teachers, inadequate use of instructional materials, attitudes of the student towards economics.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the challenges confronting the teaching and learning of Economics in Senior Secondary Schools in Pankshin.
Other specific purposes are:
1. To evaluate the Different Challenges Confronting the teaching and learning of Economics in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State.
2. To find out how these problems affect the academic performance of Economic students in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State,
3. To proffer possible solutions to the identified challenges.
1.4. Research Questions
In order to have a guide, the following formulated questions shall guide the research. Answers will be provided to them at the end of the research:
1. What are the Different Challenges Confronting the teaching and learning of Economics in Senior Secondary Schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State?
2. How do these problems affect the academic performance of Economic students in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State?
3. What are the possible solutions to the identified challenges?
1.5 Significance of Study
The result of this research work will be of immense value to economics teachers, curriculum planners, government, students and the society in general.
Knowing the factors militating against the teaching and learning of economics will enable teachers to look out for possible solutions. Therefore, they will structure lessons to counter or avoid these problems.
To the curriculum planners, they will become aware of the challenges faced by teachers and students in the teaching and learning of economics and therefore, they will structure learning experiences that will avert or annihilate these problems for smooth teaching and learning of Economics.
The government will come to know the problems or challenges confronting the teaching and learning of economics and therefore, as the purse of the education sector, they will provide funds for textbooks, instructional materials and advice in form of workshops and conferences which will help the teachers in their discharge of duty.
It will also help researchers to know and be aware of some of the possible problems they will face when they become qualified teachers.
1.6 Scope of Study
The research work which focuses on the challenges facing teaching and learning economics in senior secondary school. The study is limited to 10 selected senior secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State of which 5 are public and 5 are private. These schools are:
1. Community Secondary School Bwarak
2. Government Secondary School Bet
3. Gung Community Secondary School
4. Good Shepherd College, Fwor
5. Government Secondary School, Kor
6. Jowen Comprehensive Secondary School, Fier
7. Lankuk Comprehensive Memorial College
8. Government Model Secondary School, Pankshin
9. Government College Pankshin
10. Community Secondary School, Tambes
However, despite the fact that the study is restricted to the selected local government and schools, its findings can be generalized to other parts of the state and country at large.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Cognitive learning: This refers to achievement by mental process such as reasoning, remembering and recall. It helps in solving problem, developing new ideas and evaluation.
Performance: The term is used to refer to grade attainment in academics or in other area of life.
Economics: This is a subject that is taught in secondary schools which is related to trade, accounting or banking and the study of firms.
Qualified Teacher: This refers to teachers that acquired professional skill in teaching career.

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