Factors contributing to Girls' poor performance in mathematics in light of correctional measures taken at Sesheke Secondary School, Sesheke District, Western Province, Zambia
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It has generally been accepted in Zambia that good performance in mathematics has become a pre-requisite for one‘s entry into tertiary education regardless of one‘s sex. In a bid to find themselves places in colleges and universities, many more girls than boys who were once pupils at Sesheke secondary school and live in Sesheke, re-write mathematics as GCE candidates than they do in other subjects, an indication that girls do not do well in mathematics at Sesheke Secondary School at grade 12 level. The purpose of the study was to investigate the factors contributing to poor performance in mathematics among girls in light of correctional measures at Sesheke Secondary School in Sesheke District of the Western Province of Zambia. The following questions guided the study; a) What teaching and learning practices in mathematics are in existence at Sesheke Secondary School? b) What role do parents play in girls‘ mathematics education and to what extent do parents support girls in mathematics education at Sesheke Secondary School? c) What is the attitude of girls towards mathematics at Sesheke Secondary School? The research which was conducted at Sesheke secondary school used a qualitative research approach in which questionnaires were given to selected fifty girls and twenty-five parents who were sampled purposively; while Lesson observations were conducted on four teachers. Focus group discussions were conducted one with eight teachers while the other one with twelve girls. Data was analysed qualitatively. The results of the study suggest that teachers attended to boys in mathematics classes than they did with girls and that some teachers discouraged girls in mathematics lessons by not recognizing their viii efforts in trying to answer questions. Also girls did not comprehend mathematics easily with teacher centred methods teachers used in mathematics lessons. Furthermore, more time was given to boys than to girls to answer question, a situation which discourages girls from being active participants in the learning of mathematics. With regard to parental support to girls‘ mathematics education, the study established that many parents believe that girls were poor performers in mathematics and that girls did most household chores. With regard to girls‘ attitude towards Mathematics, the study established that most girls at Sesheke secondary school had negative attitude towards mathematics. In order to improve teaching and learning practices at Sesheke secondary school, the study recommends that the school management sensitize mathematics teachers not to be gender biased in their lessons by involving both boys and girls equally in mathematics lessons. Sesheke secondary school management organize meetings where parents can be sensitized and educated on the importance of their involvement in their children‘s mathematics education. Sesheke Secondary School mathematics teachers need to present to girls scientific theories that suggest that mathematics performance is the result of experience and not genetics as well as guidance teachers‘ need to work in collaboration with teachers of mathematics and the school head teacher at Sesheke secondary school to provide girls with many efficacy-building experiences in mathematics.