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ASSESSMENT OF THE MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION POST-BASIC (STEP-B) PROJECT IN FEDERAL UNITY COLLEGES

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Topic Description

CHAPTER ONE

                                                  INTRODUCTION

     Background of the Study

Experiences over the years have shown that every development requires prudent management of resources. Many writers agree that management is the most important factor of production (Nwankwo, 2014; Chiaha, 2013; & Nwachukwu, 2009). Management is the systematic way of getting work done, within a given budget, with the help of the necessary human and material resources, within a given time, to achieve specific objectives. Therefore, the application of management principles is inevitable in the successful execution of any project. This is because managers determine where and how a project goes, especially as regards the nature of technology required and the best way to effectively and efficiently utilise available resources, be it material or human. It is therefore the effective and efficient utilisation of resources that determine the success or failure of the management of projects in any sector and in any nation.

1

The education sector in Nigeria has suffered a lot of setbacks as a result of ineffective and inefficient management. Consequently, the key problems of the education sector in Nigeria include: inequitable access to quality education (children in rural areas and girls have less access to  basic and secondary education); poor quality and relevance of science and technical education teaching and learning; poor management, planning, and monitoring capacity for quality and effectiveness and inadequate funding  [International Development Association (IDA), 2007a].  These problems of education made the post-basic level in Nigeria to be in serious lack of facilities (including equipment) and adequate resources for information and communications technology (ICT). The secondary school science and technical graduands that are ready to enter into tertiary institutions are very few; even the few graduands have little or no training in relevant knowledge and skills required for economic development (Eboka, 2014). The tertiary institutions were also in grave need of more and better quality education, especially in science and technology related areas. The need to achieve the national economic goals of building a strong self-reliant nation and great dynamic economy requires that students, at the post-basic level, should acquire scientific and technological knowledge and skills that will enable them develop the ability to purposefully access information from variety of sources, analyze and evaluate the information, and be self-reliant (Otuka, 2012).

Science and technology (S&T) education is an instrument for human capacity development that produces manpower (engineers, scientists, technicians and so on) for the economic and technological growth and development of the country. The importance of science and technology (S&T) education as a facilitator of growth, wealth, and health, has been recognised by individuals, institutions and countries that are interested in promoting environmental and social sustainable development (IDA, 2007a). Specifically, science and technology (S&T) serve as tools for: the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the enhancement of economic growth and competitiveness, and the creation of knowledge to research and solve developmental problems (Mbajiorgu, 2014). Apparently, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) cannot achieve its goals of having catalytic, competitive, community-owned, result-oriented, decentralised, market-oriented, mission-driven and enterprising government, without science and technology (S&T) education [Centre for Management Development (CMD), 2010]. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) understood the need for S&T education in the development of the country and the use of post-basic education as machinery for this development. This was why she decided to sign a pact with the World Bank to implement the science and technology education post-basic (STEP-B) project, with the World Bank to finance the STEP-B project. The project is in line with the transformation agenda of the government, under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, because it is aimed at transforming the education system.

The STEP-B project is a World Bank assisted project for Nigerians. It was designed to finance S&T in the federal post-basic educational institutions (FPBEIs) and the research sub-sectors. STEP-B project addresses human capacity development issues that are central to the long-term success of Nigeria’s development strategy (IDA, 2007a). The main focus of the STEP-B project was to assist the FGN in strengthening its S&T knowledge base and in this way provide necessary impulses for the nation’s economic growth. The STEP-B project design was chosen by the Nigeria government to provide ‘merit-based catalytic fund’ for the improvement of quality and innovations in S&T education, which is believed will render economic and social benefits in line with the federal government’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) (Chime, 2013). The national economic empowerment and development strategy conceive science and technology (S&T) as one of the priority areas for non-oil economic growth because of its manpower production. For this reason, there was strong ownership and motivation in all strata of the government and among the institutions to support the STEP-B project and build upon it (IDA, 2007b). The project started on the 22nd of May 2007 and ended on the 30th of June 2013 (Adikwu, 2013).

The project development objective (PDO) of the STEP-B project for Nigerian federal post-basic education and research sub-sector was to produce more and better qualified science and technology graduates, and higher quality and more relevant S&T research (IDA, 2007a). This is a long term objective of the STEP-B project for the next ten years. The STEP-B project had three components. The first component is the competitive funding for Quality Enhancement and Innovation Fund (QEIF) that supports a facility to provide peer-reviewed and competitively-awarded quality grants to federal post-basic education S&T institutions and other federal S&T agencies. It is fund for supporting and financing S&T teaching and learning at the post-basic institutions (IDA, 2007b). The other components are: Component 2 [for the support of the emergence of centres of excellence in post-basic S&T] and Component 3 [for the support of sector-wide initiatives that will have impact on quality, relevance and access to S&T education, strengthen strategic planning, management, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in post-basic education and sub-sector initiatives]. This study will concentrate on the first component of the project: Quality Enhancement and Innovation Fund (QEIF), which the Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs) benefited from to realise the objective of enhancing the quality of S&T education.

The specific objective of STEP-B project was to improve the quality of S&T education in all federal institutions at the post-basic level, including research institutions, and also to promote innovative activities, higher quality, and more relevant research in the institutions. Consequently, the fund was used for financing S&T education at the post-basic level in selected federal institutions in Nigeria, to support capacity enhancement and teaching of S&T education. Post-basic education is the level of education students receive after the primary and junior secondary education. It starts from the senior secondary level and ends in the tertiary level. The broad aim of this education at the secondary level is to prepare the individuals for useful living within the society, while the tertiary level is to make the individuals contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training [Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004].

The Federal Ministry of Education (FME) had the function of managing the STEP-B project fund [the Quality Enhancement and Innovation Fund (QEIF)]. She was the implementing agency of STEP-B project in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), while the National Project Secretariat (NPS) was responsible for co-ordinating the entire STEP-B project on behalf of the FGN. The Quality Enhancement and Innovation Fund (QEIF) was accessed by the selected institutions, through developing standard proposals using the World Bank format and procurement guideline. The federal unity colleges (FUCs) wrote their proposals based on sub-components 1 (A & B) of the project, which addressed priority issues that focused on local and international science and technology related needs of the colleges and sent to the STEP-B project manager at the FME. The manager of STEP-B project had the responsibility of conducting the implementation of the STEP-B project in the FUCs, for approvals. The proposals were approved and each of the FUCs was given US $250,000 dollars or its naira equivalent (NG N36.6 million) to implement the first component of the project. The fund was to be used to: renovate existing structures; support capacity building for teachers; develop technology ideas, processes and services; provide S&T needs (including other proposals that extended and added value to development); improve S&T teaching and learning, as well as raise quality and relevance, efficiency and equity within the participating Post-Basic Educational Institutions (PBEIs). Other activities that were supported were: learning and training opportunities related to identified regional skill needs, teacher and lecturer development and support programs, and strategies for using ICT to improve S&T teaching and learning (IDA, 2007b).

The STEP-B Project fund was borrowed from the World Bank (International Development Association) lending window called Special Investment Loan (SIL). The SIL is appropriate because the project is the first of its kind in Nigeria and the implementing PBEIs and FME did not have previous experience of implementing competitive funds for the development of S&T capacity. The World Bank supervised the SIL and provided guidelines on what to procure as well as the trainings and technical assistance for the implementing institutions. This was a collaborative participatory approach to project implementation because the borrowers (World Bank representatives) and the beneficiaries (PBEIs) implemented the project. It was also consistent with the FGN’s stated desire and World Bank practices of having budget support in areas of productivity, enhancement for economic growth, and competitiveness (IDA, 2007b).

All the successful grantees among the FUCs had STEP-B project offices within their institutions. Each of the principals involved had to appoint six key project staff comprising: a project manager, procurement officer, monitoring and evaluation officer, finance officer, communication officer and technical officer. These six project officers formed the project implementation team in each of the FUCs. The project implementation team was responsible for implementing all the approved proposals in collaboration with the teachers in the relevant S&T departments or units within the colleges.

Specifically, the targets of component one (Quality Enhancement and innovation fund (QEIF) of the STEP-B project, in the FUCs, as stated in the procurement guidelines (IDA, 2007b: 99-101) and the approved proposals of all the FUCs were to: renovate/rehabilitate infrastructures (science laboratories, technical workshops and ICT laboratories) and upgrade their standard; procure textbooks, school furniture, teaching materials, ICT facilities, computers, laboratory and workshop equipment, power supply, refrigerators, project vehicles and so on; and also to build teachers’ capacity. These outcomes are needed for quality enhancement of S&T teaching and learning in the FUCs (Adekola, 2013). It is important to note that it is this operational guideline provided by the World Bank for the project procurements that is the benchmark set for the projects in the FUCs. It should also be noted that STEP-B project in the PBEIs was completed, closed and handed over to the benefiting institutions in 2013 (Adikwu, 2013). However, any good project needs to be sustained. In this case, the post-project sustainability depends on sufficient allocation of funds from the FGN and the post-basic institutions. Since the post-basic institutions have taken ownership of the project, they are expected to demonstrate their willingness to sustain the project by investing their own resources on the activities that are financed under the project. Therefore, there is the need for an assessment of the management and sustainability of the STEP-B project in the post-basic institutions, as the project is an intervention project to transform S&T education delivery system in the country. This is why the current study assessed the management and sustainability of science and technical education post-basic (STEP-B) projects in the federal unity colleges in South-South Nigeria.

Assessment is the process of determining the extent to which a particular objective was either met or not. In the field of education, assessment is the process of determining the extent to which educational organisations have effectively and efficiently achieved articulated goals and objectives (Aggarwal, 2004). In the specific case of this study, assessment is the examination or analysis of the various aspects of the STEP-B project in order to ascertain the extent it achieved its objectives as well as the extent the necessary management factors were put in place to ensure the sustainability of the project. Reeser in Nwankwo (2014) stated that management is the planned and judicious utilisation of physical and human resources through co-operative efforts. It is accomplished by performing the functions of planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling. Management of STEP-B project, therefore, is the process of organising the human resources (trained teachers) and material resources (facilities) provided for science and technology education. It involves securing and using available resources for the achievement of the project objective. Sustainability in this context involves supporting and taking ownership of STEP-B activities through provision of funds for continuous supply of resources, training and motivation of teachers and continuous utilisation and maintenance of existing facilities.

This study was carried out after the completion of the STEP-B project. Therefore, the study is a summative assessment because a summative assessment according to Jerrit (2013) is the type of evaluation which is carried out after the completion of a project/programme. Hence, this study assessed the management of the outcomes of STEP-B project, to ascertain the extent to which the project is achieving its objectives and the necessary management factors put in place to ensure the sustainability of the STEP-B activities in the Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs) in South-South of Nigeria, especially in the areas of: science and technical teachers’ capacity building (trainings) which aimed at increasing S&T teachers’ knowledge, skills, efficiency, and effectiveness in S&T teaching and learning (Adekola, 2013); utilisation and maintenance of facilities (including laboratory equipment, ICT facilities, technical tools, textbooks and so on). which included identifying the availability of the facilities (including equipment) and their usage, as well as security, repairing, and timely servicing of the machines; sustainability of the STEP-B activities which should involve continuous training and motivation of S&T teachers, replacement of worn-out facilities, supporting S&T education, and budgeting for continuous supply of resources; increment in students’ enrolment in S&T subjects in terms of stimulated interest of students in S&T subjects, improved relevance of S&T teaching and learning in the colleges. It also assessed the effect of the STEP-B project on the S&T education. Specifically on the S&T students’ academic performance and enrolment in S&T subjects in terms of; increase in the number of credit passes in internal and external examinations and the number of students registered (e.g. WASSCE). In this study, any student that scored between 50% and 100% (credit and above) will be considered to have good academic performance because credit passes and above in particular subjects make up some of the basic requirements for entry into tertiary institutions from secondary schools, such as the federal unity colleges.

Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs) were set-up to promote cultural and national cohesion and to serve as best practice examples for the state owned institutions. There are 104 federal unity colleges in the country, and all of them benefited from the STEP-B project intervention. The FUCs are of three categories. Category-1 are the colleges made up of only female students, that is, the Federal Government Girls’ Colleges (FGGCs).  Category-2 and Category-3 colleges are made up of male and female students. The colleges under Category-2 are the Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) while those under Category-3 are the Federal Science and Technology Colleges (FSTCs) and Federal Science Colleges (FSCs). However, while Category 1 and 2 colleges offer both arts and S&T subjects, Category-3 colleges offer mostly S&T subjects.

The south-south zone of Nigeria, like other parts of the country, adopted and implemented the STEP-B project to enable her improve the S&T aspects of education which are believed will lead to economic development of the area specifically, and Nigeria at large. This area was chosen for this study because many projects that were previously carried out in the area had failed and were not sustained such as the Universal Basic Education project. At the completion of the STEP-B project, some of the teachers and other stakeholders started expressing fears that the project might not be sustained. Besides, the researcher’s observation and experience both as a science teacher and a project team member in one of the unity colleges, seems to indicate that some of the principals misunderstand the management of the project as they are not complying with the ministry directive to sustain and support the project; secondly some of the teachers are not  adequately trained; and the science and technical students who graduate from these colleges are few and some are not as knowledgeable about S&T as contained in the objective of the STEP-B project.

The FME and IDA might have inbuilt evaluators for the project, yet, it is very important that an independent researcher carry out a study to provide some information on the true situation regarding the extent to which the project is achieving its objectives and the extent the activities are being sustained in the FUCs in South-South Nigeria. Even though assessment was done on the completion of the project, there is no empirical study known to the researcher that has been carried out either to determine the outcomes of the project or to provide possible strategies that can be used for sustaining the STEP-B activities in the benefiting institutions in the area. That is why the study is carried out in the area to ascertain the extent the project is achieving its objective in the area, the extent  the project activities are being sustained and the impact of the project on students.

Statement of the Problem                                

Nigeria has been engaged in sector-wide reform efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in education, but the country is still faced with challenges of providing more and better access to education and improving the quality and relevance of what students learn in S&T education. For these challenges to be met, the STEP-B project was opted for by the federal government. Available evidence indicate that when a project such as this is not properly managed to ensure the achievement of the set objectives – as in the case of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) – the project would be unsustainable and would rather become an exercise in futility.

The south-south Nigeria, like other parts of the country, adopted and implemented the STEP-B project to produce more and better qualified graduates from the colleges. At the completion of the project, some of the teachers and other stakeholders started expressing fears that the project might not be sustained. However, the researcher’s observations and experiences both as a science teacher and STEP-B project team member in one of the unity colleges where the project was implemented, indicate that: (a) some of the principals seem not to have understood what they are supposed to do for proper management and sustenance of the project, thus, they are not complying with the directive from the Ministry of Education to sustain and support the project; (b) some of the teachers were not adequately trained for the utilisation of the facilities procured for the sustenance of the project; and (c) the science and technical students who graduate from these colleges are not as knowledgeable about S&T in line with the expectations of the objective of the STEP-B project. For these reasons, the teachers and other stakeholders are expressing fears that the project might not be sustained especially with regard to issues of training of teachers, motivation of S&T teachers, and lack of budgetary provisions for continuous supply of resources for teaching and learning of S&T subjects. That is why the FME wrote the principals of the colleges to comply with the minister’s directives on the sustenance of the project, by including STEP-B activities into their budgetary provisions (Nwaobiala, 2014). There is therefore the need to know if these objectives were even abandoned once the project was declared completed. This requires that a study be carried out to investigate the extent to which the project objectives were being achieved, as well as the extent to which the managers of the projects in the FUCs took ownership of the STEP-B activities and are sustaining them; and the impact of the project on students.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to assess the management of the outcomes of STEP-B project, to ascertain the extent it is achieving its objectives and the necessary management factors put in place to ensure the sustainability of science and technology education post-basic (STEP-B) project in the federal unity colleges (FUCs). The study also assessed the effect of the STEP-B project on the S&T education in the south-south zone of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to find out the extent to which:

  1. The STEP-B project built science and technical (S&T) teachers’ capacity for quality             enhancement and innovations (QEI) in science and technology in the FUCs;
  2. The facilities (including equipment) procured by STEP-B project are being utilised for the teaching and learning of S&T in federal unity colleges;
  3. The facilities (including equipment) procured by STEP-B project are being maintained by the federal unity college authorities in the south-south Nigeria;
  4. The activities started during STEP-B project are being sustained by the federal unity college authorities in the south-south Nigeria; and
  5. To determine whether the students’ academic performance in science and technology subjects               has improved in the FUCs in south-south Nigeria;
  6. To determine whether the students’ enrolment in science and technical subjects has increased in     the FUCs in south-south Nigeria.

Significance of the Study                                             

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study buttressed the theory and assumptions of Targeting Outcomes of Programmes (TOP) evaluation model by Bennett and Rockwell (2004) which was adopted to assess the management and sustainability of STEP-B project. This is because the findings of this study confirmed the idea that the assessment of the outcomes of any project can be based on a prior identification of the outcomes necessary for achieving the specific objectives of the project.

Practically, the findings of this study will be beneficial to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) that opted for the STEP-B project from World Bank, the World Bank, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), the colleges, the teachers, the students, and all Nigerian citizens. The findings of this study will be of great benefit to the Federal Government of Nigeria because they will provide some information that may be used by the federal government to assess and improve S&T education in different parts of the country.

The findings of this study, when published, will be of great benefit to the World Bank (WB). This is because these findings will provide information on whether the Colleges have taken ownership of the STEP-B activities and are sustaining them. Such pieces of information will enable the World Bank to be in an advantaged position to assess whether or not it is worthwhile to continue to invest on similar projects in other regions of the world, and whether they may consider it reasonable to hand-over projects to local school administrators before the expected outcomes are realized.

The findings of this study will also provide pieces of information that can assist the FME in decision-making regarding the teaching and learning of S&T subjects in the FUCs in Nigeria. This is because the findings of the study will reveal the desires and expectations of the S&T teachers on what can be done to sustain the STEP-B activities in the FUCs, and the extent the project has improved the teaching and learning of S&T education.

The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the FUCs. This is because the findings of this study will provide information that can guide the administrators of these colleges to identify the indicators of the extent to which STEP-B project objectives were achieved in terms of: improved efficiency and effectiveness of their S&T teachers, improvement in S&T students’ performance, and the increase in S&T subjects’ enrolment in the colleges, and be able to manage and sustain STEP-B activities better.

The findings of this study will also be of great benefit to teachers and students of science and technology that are sceptical in the teaching of S&T subjects. This is because it will provide information on students’ academic performance and teacher effectiveness that can be used to improve the teaching of S&T subjects.

The findings of this study will provide information for the entire Nigerian society on the extent the STEP-B project has improved both the quality of science and technical education in the FUCs and students’ performance as a result of the STEP-B project. In this case where the result is positive, the findings will give Nigerians the hope of having better quality graduands from the federal unity colleges. Finally, this study will also provide relevant pieces of information for other researchers who may want to carry out studies on assessment of the management and sustainability of STEP-B project in other zones of the country or from different perspectives.

   

Scope of the Study

This study was delimited to south-south Nigeria, covering Delta, Edo, Rivers, and Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, and Bayelsa states of Nigeria. The study focused on the assessment of the management and sustainability of the first component of the STEP-B project in the senior secondary level of the FUCs.

The study was delimited in content to the following aspects of STEP-B project: science and technical teachers’ capacity building (trainings), which aimed at increasing S&T teachers’ knowledge, skills, efficiency, and effectiveness in S&T teaching and learning; utilisation and maintenance of facilities (including equipment); which included identifying the availability of the facilities (including equipment) and their usage, as well as security, repairing, and timely servicing of the machines; sustenance of the STEP-B activities which involve continuous training and motivation of S&T teachers, replacement of worn-out facilities, and budgeting for continuous supply of resources; increment in students’ enrolment in S&T subjects; and improvement in S&T students’ academic performance in examinations in terms of increase in the number of credits passes in internal and external examinations. The population is restricted to the principals, project team members, and S&T teachers and students.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  • To what extent did STEP-B project build the science and technical teachers’ capacity for Quality Enhancement and Innovation (QEI) in science and technology (S&T) education in the FUCs in south-south Nigeria?
  • To what extent are the facilities (including equipment) procured by STEP-B project being utilised for the teaching and learning of S&T by the federal unity colleges in south-south Nigeria?
  • To what extent are the facilities procured by STEP-B project being maintained by the federal unity college authorities in south-south Nigeria?
  • To what extent are the activities started during the STEP- B project being sustained by the FUC authorities in south-south Nigeria?
  • Have the science and technical (S&T) students’ academic performance in S&T subjects improved in the FUCs in south-south, Nigeria?
  • Have students’ enrolment in science and technical subjects increased in the federal unity colleges in south-south, Nigeria?

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were generated to guide the study and they were tested at 0.05 level of significance:

Ho1 There is no significant difference among the responses of the of the project team members and the S&T teachers in the FGGCs, FGCs and FSTCs on the extent STEP-B project built the science & technology (S&T) teachers’ capacity in S&T education in the FUCs in south-south, Nigeria.

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