A comparison of academic performance of some selected coeducation and single sex secondary schools in Choma District
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Studies on single sex and coeducation schooling provide a variety of interesting intricacies on effectiveness of their programmes. This paper compares the academic performance of single sex education and coeducation schooling at secondary school with special bias to examination classes, thus Grades 9 and 12 from 2010 to 2015 in Choma District. Two secondary schools that participated in the study were Mukasa Minor Seminary and Choma Day Secondary School. Journal articles and Examination Council (ECZ) results for Grades 9 and 12 were used to synthesize and compare the academic performance of the selected schools. An ex-post facto causal comparative design was used. This design employed the qualitative techniques of data collection, analysis and interpretation. The target sample was composed of School Managers, teachers and Heads of Departments of the selected schools in Choma District of the Southern Province. The District Education Standards Officer (DESO) also constituted the targeted sample for the study in Choma District. Data were collected through the use of questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), interview schedules and examination documents from the Examinations Council of Zambia. Qualitative data were thematically analyzed through identified themes that were derived from the data. Descriptive statistics such as percentages, charts and tables were used to show instructional practices and trends of academic performance. The study revealed that learners from single sex education institutions mostly provided by Grant aided schools were performing better than their counterparts in Government coeducation secondary schools. While it is a fact that by merely putting girls in one room and boys in another room is not a guarantee to their success, it was evident that learners in single sex Grant aided schools perform better than learners in government coeducation secondary schools. The academic excellence of learners in single sex secondary schools mainly run by Grant aided schools is attributed to a wide range of factors including adequate instructional materials, high discipline levels among teachers and learners , classroom order and regulated school enrolments to below 45 pupils per class. Single sex learners are willing to take risks because they do not fear to make mistakes and to be embarrassed by the opposite sex in the same class. In single sex Grant aided schools; learners are not stressed by the desire and ego to impress the other gender as is the case in coeducation environments. Single sex education is strongly advocated by voluntary organizations or churches which stress on academic policies, teacher motivation, prize giving to both outstanding teachers and learners, provision of adequate teaching and learning materials, and effective supervision of teachers. Boys and girls in single sex schools have separate learning environments in cognizance of the differences in the physical development of the two sexes. These attributes and other environmental factors place the learners in single sex Grant aided schools above government coeducation schools. On the other hand, learners in government coeducation schools face a multiple of distractions such as in-campus pairing. This is where big boys and girls get attracted to each other to the extant where girls end up of being impregnated by their classmates in some cases. Coeducation is largely advocated for by government and in these schools there is over enrollment, low teacher motivation, pupil indiscipline, teacher and pupil absenteeism, dormant continuing professional development meetings, lack or ineffective school academic policies , high pupil /text book ratio and generally laissez faire work culture. However, coeducation schooling allows boys and girls to develop interpersonal skills that enable them interact with each other as they grow into women and men who understand and respect each other. Coeducation helps each gender to see how the other feels, thinks and reacts and such understanding is a major goal for gender friendly classrooms. In this way public schools supplement the opportunities for young adults to develop socially which exist already within the neighborhood, church, volunteer organizations and the family.