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Assessment of the Effects of Affective Student Characteristics and Educational Background on Mathematics Achievement at the Level of Higher Education in Cameroon

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation 2010 210 Pages

Sociology - Knowledge and Information

Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENT

DECLARATION

APPROVAL

DEDICATION

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

LIST OF CHARTS

ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background to the study
1.1.1 Cameroon as a multilingual/multicultural society
1.2 Historical perspective of the language problem
1.2.1 Geographical Features
1.2.2 Ethnolinguistic Diversity
1.2.3 Contact and influence of the west
1.2.3.1 The Portuguese Influence
1.2.3.2 Missionary Influence
1.2.3.3 German Influence
1.2.3.4 French and English Influence after World War I and the establishment of English and French
1.2.4 The Birth of the Federal Republic of Cameroon
1.3 The Education Policy in Cameroon
1.3.1 Primary and secondary school
1.3.2 Higher education
1.4 Bilingual Education Policy and Practice
1.4.1 Functioning of Bilingualism in the School System
1.4.2 Bilingualism at the Primary Level
1.4.3 Bilingualism and the Secondary Schools
1.4.4 Bilingualism at the University Level
1.5 Statement of the Problem
1.6 Purpose of the study
1.7 Objectives of the study
1.8 Research Questions
1.9 Research Hypotheses
1.10 Significance of the study
1.11 Scope and delimitation of the Study
1.12 Definition of terms
1.13 Plan of work

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.0 Introduction
2.1 The Importance of Mathematics
2.2 Theoretical Framework
2.3 The Conceptual Framework
2.4 Factors contributing to Academic Achievement
2.4.1 Cognitive skills and Intelligence
2.4.2 Affective Factors
2.4.2.1 Locus of Control
2.4.2.2 Self-Efficacy
2.4.2.3 Mathematics Anxiety
2.4.3 Instructional Practices

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.0 Introduction
3.1 The Research Design
3.2 Research Area
3.3 Population of the Study
3.4 The Study Sample
3.5 Sampling Procedure
3.6 The research instrument
3.7 Validation of the instruments
3.8 Administration of the instrument
3.9 Scoring of the instrument
3.10 Method of data analysis
3.11 Operational definition of variables

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Survey findings, descriptive statistics and frequencies
4.1.1 Survey findings for students
4.1.2 Survey findings for teachers
4.2 Research findings and verification of hypotheses
4.2.1 Student Participants
4.2.2 Teacher Participants

CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENTATIONS
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Summary of the Findings
5.1.1 Research Question 1
5.1.2 Research Question 2
5.1.3 Research Question 3
5.1.4 Research Question 4
5.1.5 Research Question 5
5.1.6 Research Question 6
5.1.7 Research Question 7
5.1.8 Research Question 8
5.2 Discussion of Main Findings of the Study
5.2.1 Student Individual Affective Factors: Locus of control, Mathematics self-Efficacy and Mathematics Anxiety
5.2.2 Student Educational Background and Performance in Mathematics
5.2.3 Teacher Individual Characteristics and Instructional Practices
5.3 Conclusion
5.4 Implications and Recommendations
5.5 Recommendations for Further Research
5.6 The Limitations of the Study

REFERENCES

APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Questionnaire for Students (English Language Version)
Appendix 2: QuestionnaireforStudents(French Language Version)
Appendix 3: Questionnaire for Teachers (English Language Version)
Appendix 4: Questionnaire for Teachers (French Language Version)

DECLARATION

I, the undersigned, declare that thls Doctoral Dissertation 1s my own original work solely imputed to me as its author and has not been presented to any university for any scholastic accolade.

Signature

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Mathew Akoko

Date: September 14, 2010

APPROVAL

This Final Thesis was submitted with my approval as Academic Advisor.

Signed:

Dr Franklin Valcin

Date:

DEDICATION

This work is dedicated to Jesus the Divine Master for giving me strength and wisdom to complete this doctoral program,

My children And

The two great women of my life- my mother and my wife.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my sincere and deeply felt gratitude to my academic advisor, Dr. Franklin Valcin, who guided my efforts and stimulated my inspiration throughout the doctoral program. His mentorship truly expanded my capabilities.

Prof Martin Amin is highly remembered for the valuable advice and inspiration I received from him from the onset of the research study. The role played by Dr. Peter Agborbechem and his intellectual stimulation invariably gave me support and encouragement during the research study.

The research study would not have been possible without the collaboration and assistance I received from authorities and staff of the Mathematics departments of University of Buea (UB) and the National Advanced School of Engineering (NASE) Yaounde. I register special gratitude to the Vice Chancellor of UB and the Director of NASE Yaounde for the support they gave for this research. I sincerely thank Mr. Dieudonne Agbor of UB and Dr. Takou of NASE Yaounde for time and efforts made in collecting data for the study. This was however possible, through the very useful contacts that were initiated by Mrs Ndi Bernadette and Dr. Gideon Ngwa.

A good number of staff of the Cameroon GCE Board offered valuable assistance whenever it was needed. I sincerely thank them and the authorities of the Board for the support and the many times I was allowed to be away from work for the purpose of accomplishing this work.

Completing this research study and the degree for which it is one of the final requirements would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family and friends. I sincerely thank them, particularly my wife, Helen for understanding all of the time I spent on my computer and away from her and the family to accomplish this academic goal. Special appreciation goes to Mbekwa, Vivian and Emmanuel Abianji who, despite their busy schedules, were able to proofread the work.

Finally, my sincere thanks go to Dr. Clarence Johnson for permission to adapt and use the Mathematics Teachers Questionnaire, to Dr. Julian Rotter for use of the Rotter I-E Locus of Control Scale and to Dr. Carl Martry and Dr. Livingston Alexander for use of the Abbreviated Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale.

LIST OF TABLES

Table 3.1 Distribution of Sample According to Institution and Educational Subsystem

Table 4.1 Summary if Items and Variable Characteristics Used in the Study for the Student Questionnaire

Table 4.2 Total Questionnaires Distributed and Usable Questionnaires for the University of Buea

Table 4.3 Total Questionnaire Distributed and Usable Questionnaire for National Advanced School ofEngineering (NASE) Yaounde

Table 4.4 Summary of Items and Variable Characteristics Used in the Study: Teacher Questionnaire

Table 4.5 Total Questionnaires Distributed and Usable Questionnaires for High School Teachers

Table 4.6 Statistics of Teacher Participants by Selected Teacher Practices and Characteristics: Gender, age, school time, years of teaching, qualification

Table 4.7 Statistics of Teacher Participant by Selected Teacher Practices and Characteristics: Homework

Table 4.8 Statistics of Teacher Participant by Selected Teacher Practices and Characteristics: Problems faced by Teachers

Table 4.9 Descriptive Statistics of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.10 Two tailed correlation matrix of predictor variables and the criterion variables

Table 4.11 Regression analysis results of predictor variables on the criterion variable

Table 4.12 Descriptive statistics of predictor variable and the criterion variable

Table 4.13 Two tailed correlation matrix of predictor variable and criterion variable

Table 4.14 Regression analysis results of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.15 Descriptive statistics of predictor variables and the criterion Variable

Table 4.16 Two tailed correlation matrix of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.17 Regression analysis results of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.18 Independent t-test analysis of the influence of students’ educational background and their locus of control, mathematics self- efficacy and mathematics anxiety of Level 200 students of the University of Buea

Table 4.19 Independent t-test analysis of the influence of students’ educational background on their locus of control, mathematics and self-efficacy and mathematic anxiety for level I students of NASE Yaounde

Table 4.20 Independent t-test analysis of the differences between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational backgrounds for level 200 or first year students of the University of Buea

Table 4.21 Independent t-test analysis of the differences between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational backgrounds for level I or first year students of NASE Yaounde

Table 4.22 Descriptive statistics of predictor variables and the criterion Variable

Table 4.23 Two tailed correlation matrix of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.24 Regression analysis result of predictor variables on the criterion variable

Table 4.25 Descriptive statistics of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.26 Two tailed correlation matrix of predictor variables and the criterion variable

Table 4.27 Regression analysis results of the predictor variables on the criterion variable

Table 4.28 Independent t-test analysis of the differences between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students with passed grade in GCE Advanced Level Further Mathematics for level 200 or first year students of the University of Buea

Table 4.29 Independent t-test analysis of the differences between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students with passed grade in GCE Advanced level Further Mathematics for Level I or first year students of NASE Yaounde

Table 4.30 Group means and standard deviations for the three groups on the dependent variables for each variable for level 200 or first year participant ofUniversity of Buea

Table 4.31 One-way Analysis of variance (ANOVA) of the effect of students’ age on their academic performance in mathematics at the higher education level for Level 200 or first year participant of the University of Buea

Table 4.32 Group means and standard deviation for the three groups on the dependent variables for each variable for level I or first year participant in NASE

Table 4.33 One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) of the effect of students’ age on their academic performance in mathematics at the higher educational level for level I or first year participants of NASE Yaounde

Table 4.34 Independent t-test analysis of the difference between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students with passed grade in GCE Advanced Level Further Mathematics and students without passed grade in Further Mathematics for Level 200 or first year students of the University of Buea

Table 4.35 Independent t-test analysis of the difference between the performance in Mathematics at the higher education level for students with passed grade in GCE Advanced Level Further Mathematics and students without passed grade in Further Mathematics for Level 1 or first year students of NASE Yaounde

Table 4.36 Independent t-test analysis of the difference between the teacher mathematics self-efficacy construct s for teachers of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational school systems

Table 4.37 Classification of teaching experience and qualifications

Table 4.38 Independent t-test difference of teacher’s years of teaching experience and qualifications and teachers of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational School Subsystem

Table 4.39 Independent t-test analysis of the difference between the teacher instructional practices for teachers on homework of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational school systems

Table 4.40 Independent t-test analysis of the difference between the type of problems faced by teachers of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational school subsystems

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.1 Factors contributing to student academic achievement

Figure 2.2 Locus of control believes

LIST OF CHARTS

Chart 4.1 Means of Teacher’s Mathematic Efficacy Construct in the French and English-Speaking Educational Subsystems

Chart 4.2 Proportions and Maths Teacher in French-Speaking and English-Speaking Subsystem of Education by Qualification in Maths or Maths education

Chart 4.3 Proportion of Homework frequency by Teachers in French and English Subsystem of Education

Chart 4.4 Proportion of the Quality of Homework Received in French-Speaking and English-Speaking Subsystem of Education

ABSTRACT

The primary purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of individual student affective factors and educational background on mathematics achievement among higher education students as measured by semester grades in the core mathematics courses. Student Locus of Control, Self-Efficacy, and Mathematics Anxiety were the specific individual student affective factors that were examined in the study. Educational backgrounds of the students were examined as an attempt to explain the differences in mathematics performance at the higher education level. To achieve this, high school teacher characteristics and instructional practices in influencing students’ affective factors were examined. The relationship between mathematics achievement and other student characteristics, such as, gender, age, and previous performance in mathematics (in high school certificate exams) were examined as secondary purpose. A number of research questions and hypotheses were used for the purpose of establishing relationships between the student individual characteristics, teacher characteristics and practices and the student mathematics achievement.

All of the analyses presented were performed on data collected for the study from two institutions of higher education in Cameroon for the student participants and from high school mathematics teachers of the English-Speaking and French-Speaking subsystems of education who were marking the 2010 GCE Advanced Level and Baccalaureat certificate examinations for the teacher participants.

Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS version 17.0 which included factor analysis and multiple regression analysis. The results of the study show that student internal locus of control, high mathematics self-efficacy, and Mathematics Anxiety were associated with performance in mathematics at the higher education level.

The results also revealed a high significant difference in the performance of the students in mathematics from the two educational backgrounds, the English-Speaking and French- Speaking. In both institutions, University of Buea and the National Advanced School for Engineering Yaounde, the students of the French-Speaking background significantly performed better than those of the English-Speaking background.

The GCE Advanced Level Further Mathematics syllabus, which was designed to prepare students of the English-Speaking subsystem of education for further studies in mathematics, particularly at the higher education level, was found to have no significant impact on the performance of the students in mathematics at the higher education level. From the findings, performance at the higher education level did not matter if a student had a grade in Further Mathematics or not.

The results of the study revealed that the English-Speaking subsystem of education is suffering from an acute shortage of qualified high school mathematics teachers. The results show that only 10.5% of the high school mathematics teachers who participated in the study had postgraduate qualifications as against 56.9% for mathematics teachers of the French- Speaking subsystem.

The study recommends the urgent need to replace the present GCE Advanced Level Further Mathematics syllabus with one that reflects the view that Further Mathematics is a subject studied mainly by potential mathematics graduates. The syllabus should have, as one of its objectives, the provision of a link between High School Mathematics and University Mathematics. While improving on the syllabus and the examination system, due consideration should also be given to the problem of acute shortage of qualified high school mathematics teachers for the English-Speaking subsystem of education in Cameroon.

The present study did not investigate the performance in mathematics of students of other courses at the higher education level that require knowledge of the GCE Advanced Level Mathematics syllabuses. An evaluation of the suitability of these Mathematics curricula for both the English-Speaking and French-Speaking educational sub-systems for higher education mathematics will be useful in making proposals for reforms.

The increasing rate of use of mathematics and change of knowledge at the university level in recent times is a challenge for our secondary school curriculum. Information and communication technologies which contribute greatly in these new developments are deeply rooted in mathematics. These new developments raise questions about the role of secondary school mathematics curriculum and instructional practices in preparing students for university studies. The request for reforms in the secondary school mathematics curriculum should not be delayed.

1.0 Introduction

The last decades have witnessed growing demands for mathematical competence in an increasing technologically oriented world. These demands have brought many factors about a change in the overall situation of mathematics education. There has been a move to universal elementary and secondary mathematics education in developing and industrialized countries in providing adequate educational preparation for students who are destined for university and vocational education or who move directly to the workplace. Numerous reports about mathematics being a gatekeeper for many careers, especially in mathematics and sciences, have been published (e.g., Bleyer, Pedersen, & Elmore, 1981). Okereke (2006) stated that mathematics is the foundation of science and technology and the functional role of mathematics to science and technology is multifarious, that no area of science, technology and business enterprise escapes its application. He observed that despite the importance given to mathematics it is one of the most poorly taught, widely hated and abysmally understood subject in elementary school.

Disparity in academic achievement in mathematics has been a matter of great concern in developing and industrialized countries. In the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) examination, in which mathematics is a compulsory subject for all secondary school students, achievement has hardly gone above 30% within the last 15 years. In the US, recent test results provide continuing documentation of the need to increase the focus on improving student achievement in mathematics. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the USA released the 2005 mathematics scores which reflected student achievement in the areas of measurement, geometry, data analysis, probability and algebra, only 30% of eighth graders nationally were deemed proficient (Olson, 2005). In Cameroon, performance in the GCE Ordinary Level Mathematics certificate examination has hardly gone above 30%. Past researches have indicated that student background, learning strategies, self- related cognitions in mathematics and school climate variables were important for achievement (Demir, Kilic. & Depren, 2009). The present study was to identify the factors responsible for the disparity in achievement in mathematics among the students from the two subsystems of education in Cameroon pursuing studies in mathematics at the higher education level.

At the level of higher education, there is need to focus on the individual learner. Johnstone (1993) stated that the most significant advances in higher education will come through greater attention to the individual learner. For Johnstone, rather than focusing on enrolments, courses taught, credit or classroom hours assigned, the input of the faculty and staff should be related to learning. When the object of critical inquiry is learning and learners, rather than merely teaching and teachers, an enormous potential opens for increased learning through reducing the student’s time spent on activities other than learning, lessening the aimless drift of students through prolonged undergraduate years, and challenging each student up to his or her learning potential (Johnstone, 1993). This view is supported by Baker (1996) when he stated that, at the level of higher education, there is need to move away from industrial-age, standardized mass-production approaches to teaching and learning toward a more learner- centered approach, offering convenient and customized learning experiences sensitive to the needs of diverse students. Baker stressed the need to move beyond traditional instruction, which is tied to specific times, places, texts and lectures.

In view of the above, this study focused on investigating the factors that affect the individual learner. The study focused on the theoretical foundations of the prediction of academic achievement, and in particular, the affective student individual characteristics; locus of control, mathematics self-efficacy, mathematics anxiety, and educational background as they affect achievement and retention in mathematics.

1.1 Background to the Study

Cameroon is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. There are over two hundred and forty other native languages. The country is divided to ten regions, two English-speaking regions and eight French-speaking regions. There are two distinct educational subsystems, the English-speaking and French-speaking school subsystems. Instruction in schools is in English for the English-speaking school subsystem and in French for the French-speaking school subsystem. There exist Bilingual Secondary Schools (in the Cameroon context) in both the English-speaking and French-speaking regions. In the Bilingual schools the English-speaking children follow the Anglo-Saxon educational system and write the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level after five years and GCE Advanced Level after another two years. The French- speaking children follow the francophone educational system and write the “Brevet d’Etudes de Premier Cycle” (BEPC) examination after four years, then Probatoire Examination after another two years and finally Baccalaureat at the end of the seventh year.

The definition of bilingualism in the context of education in Cameroon and this study derives from the constitutional provision that made French and English the official languages of Cameroon.

The official languages of the Federal Republic of Cameroon shall be French and English.

(Article 1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, 1961)

1.1.1 Cameroon as a multilingual/multicultural society

Cameroon is a multicultural country made up of over two hundred and forty different tribal or cultural groups. Each of these groups has its own native language which according to Holmes (1992) would be referred to as vernacular languages since they have not been standardised and do not have official status. The Holy Bible has been translated into a few of these languages, namely; Duala spoken by the Bassa people in the Littoral Region, Munganka spoken by the Bali, Lamso spoken by the Banso and Bafut spoken by the Bafut people, all in the North West Region of Cameroon. Pidgin English is widely spoken in the national territory and especially in market places.

As indicated earlier, Cameroon has two distinct educational systems. The English-speaking part of Cameroon was a colony of Great Britain that obtained independence by joining East Cameroon through a referendum in 1961. The English-speaking part has an educational system derived from Great Britain, while the French-speaking part has a system derived from France. In the present Cameroon context, bilingual secondary schools are institutions in which the two types of educational systems operate on same campus and under same administration, but separately. The Anglophone section follows the Anglo-Saxon system while the Francophone section follows the French system of education.

The students in the universities and other higher institutions in Cameroon are of two main educational backgrounds, the English-speaking and French-speaking educational sub-systems. Most of the lecturers in these higher institutions are also of these two backgrounds.

1.2 Historical perspective of the language problem

A number of factors need to be examined in order to explain why Cameroon established a bilingual state. These factors are ethno-Linguistic diversity, geographical features, the Portuguese influence, the traditional Cameroon educational legacy, missionary influence, German influence, and, finally, the French and English influence. A consideration of each of the above factors will follow.

In order to fully understand the Cameroon govemment’s language policy, it is sine qua non to return to the principles formulated in the wake of the nation’s independence in 1961. Ekane (1988) observed that this policy, for all intents and purposes, was designed to appease the seemingly hostile rivalry among tribes, unify the diverse subgroups, and establish harmony between the Anglophone west and the Francophone east- the two predominant linguistic communities. Although it has been agreed by some Cameroonian elites that harmonization is a useful tool to reconcile both sectors of the population, the full impact of the constitutional provisions on language were not immediately apparent in 1961.

1.2.1 Geographical Features

Cameroon is a very picturesque country with distinct geographical features. According to Yembe (1979), the rugged nature of the Cameroon relief combines with weather, climate, and vegetation to produce a diversity of natural regions impeding human communication.

The major rivers that flow into west and central Africa have their sources in the Cameroon highland. Over the years, these rivers have created numerous rugged mountainous regions as they have excavated the earth’s surface.

Some sections in the north and central regions are carpeted with savanna grassland which provides the indispensable nourishing pastures for the cattle herders. To the south, there is plenty of rainfall, and in some areas there is rain throughout the year, Debunsha being the third rainiest place in the world. As one moves further south, a thick belt of tropical and equatorial rain forest covers this region.

1.2.2 Ethnolinguistic Diversity

Yembe (1979) observed that the most direct impact on the geographical conditions on human life is that they are a great impediment to the development of easy communication and large population settlement. Natural communication links, such as navigable rivers and wide plains that facilitate road building, are virtually absent in Cameroon. Dense forests in the southern region of the country impede ease of communication between north and south. Rivers regimes oriented north-south inhibit east-west communication. These impediments force human settlement in scattered isolated groups in which ethnolinguistic identity assumes great significance as the basis of social organisation. The multiplicity of these scattered isolated groups is the legacy of the numerous indigenous languages spoken in Cameroon. Earlier assessments of the number of indigenous languages reveal that they range from 100 to 200 (Levine, 1964; Vernon -Jackson, 1967). The more recent estimates suggest that there are about 250 languages. Meanwhile a Cameroon based research institute, the Centra de Recherche sur les Langues et Traditions Oracles Africaines (CERELTRA) is in the process of creating a linguistic atlas in Cameroon. One factor that has contributed to the ethnolinguistic diversity is the marked difference in the size of the tribes. The largest tribe, the Bamelikes, constitute more than a million. The Voleo and Kolbida, the smallest tribes, each number about a thousand people (Podlewski, 1971). In between are some prominent ethnic groups: Hausa and Fulani in the north, Bamileke in the west, Ewondo and Bulu in the east, and Douala in the south.

Ekane (1988) observed that another factor which has contributed to the ethnic diversity is the social makeup and idiosyncratic cultural patterns that characterize each tribe. Residents of the coastal region, and more especially people residing around the creeks, are fishermen by trade. Most inhabitants in the forest zone are farmers, organized in chiefdoms, and among the residents of the grassland area are chiefdoms with as many as tens of thousands of people (Ardener, 1956; Chilver and Kaberry, 1960). Still further north, more elaborate chiefdoms exist (Mveng, 1963).

A third factor which distinguishes the ethnic peculiarity of the Cameroon tribes is the uneven distribution of the population. The population of present-day Cameron is very low compared to the country’s vast size, 19.5 million people in an area of 475,442 km , the size of California in the USA.

These factors, considered in concert, demonstrate what Weinreich (1953) calls “languages in contact”. The various conclusions which could be made suggest that dialects are not only spoken by small ethnic groups, but each ethnic group is basically different in culture, history and social structure - a mosaic of mini-nations. It is true that certain languages are used more extensively than others - Hausa and Fulani in the north, Ewondo and Bulu in the east, Douala in the south and Bali in the west - but because of the absence of any extremely large ethnic group, there was a desperate need to adopt a national language or a language of wider communication. It is this quest for a lingua franca that had preoccupied the government since independence.

It is, therefore, easy to appreciate from the aforementioned description why it is difficult to promote any one language. The search for a language of wide communication and the creation of a modern state are complementary aspects of the history of the language problem in Cameroon. This development can be divided into fairly distinct historical periods.

1.2.3 Contact and influence of the west

Apart from the ethnolinguistic diversity and geographical features of this nation, other factors helped to complicate Cameroon’s language problem. These factors come from Cameroon’s contact with the western world. As each country colonized Africa, they not only left a legacy of their respective cultural heritage and values, but they also left their languages. A consideration of the impact of each of these western nations will now be examined.

1.2.3.1 The Portuguese Influence

According to historical accounts, Cameroon’ s earliest contact with people from Western nations was the Portuguese. On arrival at the shores of Cameroon coastland, the Portuguese found plenty of shrimps and called the land “Cameros”, which means “shrimps” in Portuguese. So, the name Cameroon was born, a name totally alien in origin to Cameroonians. The primary mission of the Portuguese was to set up trading and commercial activities with the Cameroonian people. Thereafter, Cameroon developed trading partnerships with the Spanish, Dutch, German, French, and English.

This period of Portuguese contact happened to coincide with the era of slave trade, and during this period, a language of commerce was born-Pidgin English (Mveng, 1963). This language, Pidgin English (PE), is rooted in a combination of languages: Standard English, Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and some indigenous Cameroon languages (Vernon -Jackson, 1967; Anderson, 1983). Pidgin or Pidgin English, as it is commonly called, is widely used in all the regions of Cameroon. It is the language used in market places and in some churches. Pidgin is also used in homes where the two parents are not of the same tribal group and do not speak the same vernacular language. In such homes, the children often acquire it as their first language.

1.2.3.2 Missionary Influence

With the arrival of the white man, Western education was introduced in Cameroon in 1844 when Joseph Merrick of the London Baptist Missionary Society opened a school in Bimbia, a region now known as Limbe in the South West Region. For the next forty years or so, the society expanded by leaps and bounds and developed educational facilities limited to the primary level.

It should be stressed that the daily interaction of Cameroonians with the English-speaking missionaries provided a stream of Cameroonians who were now able to speak and write in the English language. Being able to read and write in a foreign language boosted the self-esteem and image of young Cameroonians (Vernon-Jackson, 1967).

The main medium of instruction in the schools was English. Although the goal of the mission schools was to proselytise the “pagan” Cameroonians, the schools also tried to initiate the three fundamental skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three R’s). By training young Cameroonians in the basic skills, the way was paved for the “creation of the new African elite, and when the elites later began to assume the reins of responsibility, the education system it created bore the marks of the orientation of its founders” (Levine, 1964, p.69). But these English missionaries were also keenly interested in the vernaculars in order to be able to spread and teach gospel message in the mother tongues of the natives.

It was pointed out previously that the British missionaries made inroads in Cameroon, but it must not be forgotten that the British had also maintained at this time strong commercial ties in Cameroon as well. Why, then, did the British not annex Cameroon as a colony during this epoch? It was simply due to their apparent negligence and delay. The Germans, who were foresighted and aggressive, hoisted the German flag in Douala, Cameroon, July 12, 1884, and declared Cameroon a German protectorate. By this time, the Baptists had set up twenty-four mission stations with a vernacular school and five England-medium schools in addition.

1.2.3.3 German Influence

Soon after the hoisting of the German flag of Cameroon soil, the Berlin Conference confirmed the European acceptance of the German colonization of Cameroon. The German colonization period began in 1884 and ended in 1916.

Since Cameroon had no formal government prior to this time, but rather many local, independent kings and chiefs, as pointed out earlier, the Germans established, for the first time, a real government machinery (Vernon-Jackson, 1967). Basically, all communication between Germans and Cameroonians had to be conducted in English (which incidentally was a new language to the Germans) and Pidgin English, which by this time had been deeply entrenched as a language of wider communication.

With the institution of German control, the English Baptists relinquished control of their missions to the German-speaking Basel missionaries. The American Presbyterians were granted permission to remain in Cameroon on the grounds that German was used in place of English in all their activities. The Germans were adamant in reducing the influence of the English language and the local dialects in order to foster the German language. A conference on education held in Douala in 1907, represented by government officials and the missionary bodies, sought to develop a standard curriculum for all old and newly created schools, placing primary emphasis on the teaching of the German language followed by the teaching of arithmetic, the arts, and general sciences (Rudin, 1938).

To foster the implementation of this policy, only schools that adhered to the letter of the policy were granted financial assistance, and in some instances cash rewards and even scholarships were awarded to students who excelled in the speaking, writing, and reading of German. The Germans thought that through the language policy, their influence would be maintained in this country (Rudin, 1938).

Ekane (1988) reports that, while the German language policy was vigorously pursued, the Germans also accommodated, studied and developed local languages such as Douala and Mungaka, as the dominant languages for the purpose of proselytising in the south and west of Cameroon, while Isulu, Bulu, Benga, Bamum and Bassa were used in the other regions of the country. These languages were developed in written form and were used in Sunday schools, day schools, or both in certain cases. Even Bibles were translated into some of those local languages.

It is important to emphasize that English was still being used, and Pidgin English was still the language of widest communication among the diverse ethnic groups.

1.2.3.4 French and English Influence after World War I and the establishment of English and French

Due to the turn of world events -World War I - all instruction ceased from August 1914 to March 1916, a period of two years. During this war, the Franco-British forces invaded the German colony of Cameroon in 1914 and soon after crushed the German forces in Douala. Cameroon ceased to be a German colony, and by a mandate from the League of Nations, Cameroon was partitioned by France and Great Britain, the former receiving 4/5 of the territory while the latter received 1/5 of the colony. The French territory was ruled directly from Paris, while the British appended their sections to their Nigeria territory and governed their territories from Lagos, the then capital of Nigeria.

Under the French administration, Gardinier (1963) reports that although the Arabic-medium schools were tolerated in the Muslim north, vernacular schools ceased to operate. The only language of instruction for the entire French Territory was French as obtained in France. In fact, the policies of governing for France are known as paternalism and assimilation (Gardinier, 1963). Paternalism and assimilation are concepts that attempt to describe French integrative and administrative practices in governing its colonies. In brief, Cameroon was ruled and governed along similar principles by which France was managed.

The East Cameroon schools were run along the traditional French curriculum, employing the “bifurcated seven year” primary course followed by a seven-year secondary education leading to a baccalaureate certificate. Gardinier (1963) reported that by 1956, due to the assimilationist philosophy of education, a rapid expansion of education led to a 50-percent literacy rate of the population under forty.

On the other hand, the English maintained a language policy that was diametrically opposite to the French-controlled system. The English believed in a policy of self-reliance but charged the governance of southern Cameroon to the Nigerian Government. All educational concerns, therefore, were handled or managed by local government education officers in the neighbouring Nigerian provinces who treated and perceived Cameroon schools as those in the Nigerian districts.

Yembe (1979) reported that nationalist consciousness, which gave rise to the growth of trade unions and political parties after World War II, crystallized in both French and British Cameroons in the demand not only for independence, as the other African countries, but also for reunification. The return to the boundaries of German Kamerun became the rallying cry for Cameroonians from diverse ethnic groups on both sides of the country. So strong was the demand for unification that terrorist activities on the border with francophone Cameroon did not deter Southern Cameroons from voting in a plebiscite on 11 February 1661 to join the Republic of Cameroun instead of remaining with Nigeria. The ‘founding fathers’ who sat to draw the constitution of the reunified Cameroon did not tarry over the language issue. The new constitution adopted French and English as the ‘official’ languages of Cameroon:

Les langues officielles de la Republique Federal du Cameroun sont le Frangais et l’Anglais.

The official languages of the Federal Republic of Cameroon shall be French and English.

(Article 1(5): Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, 1961)

This constitutional provision opened another era in the language history of the country. English and French henceforth became the ‘languages’ of government and of school instruction. Cameroon thus set out in 1961 to establish a bilingual state, with a multiethnolinguistic population. This would be a political proposition as unique in character as the historical events that produced it (Yembe, 1979).

1.2.4 The Birth of the Federal Republic of Cameroon

History books hold that French-speaking Cameroon became independent in 1960, and a year later, on February 11, 1961, under the United Nations supervised plebiscite, the southern part of British Cameroon unanimously voted to reunite with the newly created independent French Cameroon and be known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Later, on May 20, 1972, Cameroonians voted in a national referendum to abolish the Federation and in its place institute a United Republic of Cameroon. Then on January 10, 1984, by Presidential decree, Cameroon was named the Republic of Cameroon.

As observed by Yembe (1979), the new government realised on the morrow of reunification that there could be no genuine unity of the two sectors, Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians, without a common language of communication. No Cameroonian indigenous language nor PE could be adopted as an official language. Thus, it was a case of deja vu that English and French were to become the official languages of the new nation state. In a speech at Buea in 1983, for example, Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, made an explicit Statement on bilingualism. “Bilingualism is one of our main cultural options, an option about which Cameroon is proud. In fact, bilingualism is not only a vehicle of culture, it is also a unifying force at home, the stamp of our national identity and an excellent world passport” (Presidential Speech Buea 15/4/83). The 1961 Declaration of Independence, which enacted a bilingual policy for the nation, established bilingualism for the educated class. It could be argued that the bilingual policy was instituted to ease and facilitate communication between statesmen, civil servants, and school children and then for the ordinary citizenry.

1.3 The Education Policy in Cameroon

Education in Cameroon is broken down into three ministerial departments, the Ministries of Basic Education, Secondary education, and Higher Education.

1.3.1 Primary and secondary school

Education is compulsory through the age of 14 years. Primary school education has been free since 2000; however, families must pay for uniforms and book fees. Tuition and fees at the secondary school level remain unaffordable for many families.

In 2002, the gross primary enrolment rate was 108 percent. Gross enrolment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2001, 84.6 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years were attending school. As of 2001, 64 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.

Fewer girls enrol in primary school in Cameroon than boys. In 2001, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child identified a number of problems with the educational system in Cameroon, including rural/urban and regional disparities in school attendance; limited access to formal and vocational education for children with disabilities; children falling behind in their primary education; a high dropout rate; lack of primary school teachers; and violence and sexual abuse against children in schools. Early marriage, unwanted pregnancy, domestic chores and certain socio-cultural biases also contribute to low education rates. Domestic workers are generally not permitted by their employers to attend school.

The adult literacy rate is about 67.9%. In the southern areas of the country almost all children of primary-school age are enrolled in classes. However, in the north, which has always been the most isolated part of Cameroon, registration is low. Most students in Cameroon do not go beyond the primary grades. There has been an increasing trend of the smartest students leaving the country in recent years to study abroad and end up settling there, the so-called "brain drain".

The academic year in Cameroon runs from September to June, at which time, end of year examinations are always written. The General Certificate of Education (GCE) both Ordinary and Advanced levels are the two most qualifying exams in the Anglophone part of Cameroon.^3 Students who graduate from a five year secondary school program have to sit for the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level, and those who graduate from a two year high school program have to sit for the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level. So far, the GCE advanced level and the Baccalaureate (the French Equivalent of academic attainment) are the two main entrance qualifications into Cameroon's institutions of higher learning.

1.3.2 Higher education

Although Cameroon boasts of a sprawling cache of junior academic institutions of excellence, higher institutions however are rather insufficient. There are seven state run universities. These are located in (Buea, Douala,Yaounde I & II,Dschang, Maroua and Ngaoundere). There are thriving private universities such as the Catholic University in Yaounde, The Bamenda University of Science and Technology (BUST), and the Fotso Victor University in the West Region.

The University of Buea is the only Anglo-Saxon style university in Cameroon, and the rest of Cameroon's six state managed universities are run on the francophonie model, although in principle, they are considered to be bilingual institutions. Cameroon's universities are strictly managed by the central government, with the Pro-chancellors and Rectors of these universities adamantly appointed by presidential decree. The minister of higher Education is the Chancellor of all Cameroon's state universities. Compared with neighbouring countries however, Cameroon generally enjoys stable academic calendars. In all, Cameroon's higher education has been a success since independence, with thousands of its graduates mostly consumed by the public service in Cameroon. Since the 1990s, with economic crises, a new trend has been for hundreds of university graduates leaving the country for greener pastures in Western countries. The government is doing little or nothing to curb this brain draining.

Nonetheless, a merging number of private higher technical institutions of learning like the Nacho university, Fonab Polytechnic, and many others are beginning to reshape the predominantly general education style of education that for over three decades has been the turf of most anglophone students in Cameroon.

1.4 Bilingual Education Policy and Practice

Yembe (1979) observed that the main problem in the practice of bilingualism in Cameroon is the fact that francophones outnumber Anglophones about five to one - both in territory and in the population. The impact of French is, as can be expected, more strongly felt than that of the English. The major towns of Cameroon, such as Douala - the economic capital, Yaounde - the country administrative capital, together with other major towns such as Bafoussam, Garoua and Nkongsamba, are found in the francophone region. Until 1993 when five more state universities were created, the lone university, University of Yaounde, is located in the francophone region.

1.4.1 Functioning of Bilingualism in the School System.

By the terms of the constitutional provisions established in 1961, education at the primary, secondary and university levels was the direct responsibility of the then Ministry of National Education. The Ministry of Education, therefore, mandated that all institutions beyond the primary level teach English as a subject in the Francophone schools and that French be taught as a subject in the Anglophone schools. Depending on the availability of language teachers, students in teacher training colleges were to be taught in both languages. As was anticipated, the availability of language teachers was a major problem. But aid came through the UNESCO and bilateral agreements with France, the United States, and Canada. Together with the trained Cameroonians and foreign teachers, the vision for educating young Cameroonians bilingually was made possible. Later a bilingual experimental secondary school was established in 1963.

The education policy adopted by this new government, one of the most stable of African countries, was to provide education to all Cameroonians. Before the country’s declaration of independence, only 420.000 children were attending primary school (Deble, 1977, p.66). It should be emphasized that education in all government-owned institutions was free.

In 1953, the UNESCO Commission issued a report on the “Use of the Vemacular languages in Education” from which it could be inferred that every child should, if possible, be given early instruction using the medium of his vernacular in the primary curriculum. This report argues for three outstanding advantages of supporting a child’s mother tongue:

1. Psychologically, it is the system of meaningful signs which in the child’s mind, works automatically for expression and understanding.
2. Sociologically, it is the means of identification among the members of the community to which the child belongs.
3. Educationally, the child learns more easily through the mother tongue than through an unfamiliar linguistic medium.

It is without a doubt that children generally acquire ability to express themselves in their mother tongue as easily as they learn to breathe. But the mother tongue was not considered as one of the official languages for reasons cited earlier in this study.

In 1963, the UNESCO Commission made a statement in another report on the language situation in Cameroon. It reads It will be idle to imagine that all Cameroonians will someday be able to express themselves in three languages — their mother tongue, French and English—and it would be unreasonable to insist that all children learn two foreign languages.

(UNESCO ed. Plan/CMN/2 1963).

This report further suggested that the language situation remain as it is, meaning that all Francophone institutions utilize French as the medium of instruction while English be maintained as the sole medium of instruction for all Anglophone schools.

This idea was quickly and warmly accepted by the Anglophone policy makers in the West Cameroon White Paper on Education in 1963. They took the stance that it would be educationally imprudent to introduce a new language to children at the primary grades, their principal argument being that children at these early stages of education would not achieve mastery in either of the foreign languages. This paper consequently suggested that the second official language (French) be reserved and later introduced at the secondary level. The real question now confronting the policy-makers was how to resolve the language problem in school. To this end, Fonlon (1963), one of the earliest advocated for early bilingualism, proposed in “A Case for Early Bilingualism,” a pithy, persuasive and widely quoted article on bilingualism and bilingual education in Cameroon.

He asserts:

Both English and French should be taught together from the very start of the primary school. But the situation in fact is that in each federated state, one of these languages is already a dominant language, English in the West, French in the East. Therefore while both languages shall be taught, the dominant languages in each state shall be the languages of the instruction for the rest of the school subjects. (p.87)

Indeed, Fonlon was advocating a trilingual educational process since every child in Cameroon spoke a mother tongue before receiving instruction in the foreign languages. One institution was the informal, which was the home, and the other was the formal institution - the school. He was also advocating basic skills in bilingualism at the end of primary school which should be necessary for mutual understanding in carrying out conversation between Anglophones and Francophones and in reading the papers from earlier side of the republic. Ekane (1988) maintains that today, most of the suggestions contained in Fonlon’s proposal have been implemented in the school system.

In addition to providing bilingual education in schools in the foreign languages the government has also set up linguistic centres principally in the regional headquarters to help civil servants become bilingual in French and English. An examination of the main educational establishments will provide the rationale for evaluation the extent of bilingualism in the schools.

1.4.2 Bilingualism at the Primary Level

Yembe (1979) and Ekane (1988) reported that initially, the teaching of the second official language was limited to the urban centres in the Francophones zones of the country. Under the auspices of the English language inspectors of the provincial regions, about 7000 teachers were posted to teach English in the Francophone primary schools. The first group of students received a thirty-minute session or instruction in English twice a week.

At the moment, government has put in place a policy to have English and French taught in all primary schools throughout the republic. This policy has a major setback as there is an acute shortage of teachers to teach French in the English-Speaking schools. A good number of primary schools have never had a French teacher. The First School Leaving Certificate examination includes a test on these languages.

1.4.3 Bilingualism and the Secondary Schools

It was only in the Bilingual Grammar School Buea (BGS) and the other bilingual secondary schools opened in the early sixties that French was employed as one of the languages of instruction. The situation in the Bilingual Grammar Buea and other bilingual secondary schools has since changed. The BGS and the Bilingual Secondary schools now operate two parallel educational systems, English-speaking and French-speaking, on same campus and under the same administration. That indeed, is the bilingual secondary school in the Cameroon context. English and French are taught as compulsory subjects in all secondary schools. All students going in for the Cameroon General Certificate of Education examinations must write English, French and mathematics.

1.4.4 Bilingualism at the University Level

Until 1993, when five other universities were created, University of Yaounde was the only institution that provided higher education. Ekane (1988) reported that the UNESCO Report of 1962 recommended that University of Yaounde be established along the lines of a bilingual university so that the new republic could achieve its goals. In this way courses would be offered in both official languages so that students from the Anglophone and Francophone provinces would have the unique option of following instruction in the languages of their choice. Also, programs that demanded that students pursue bilingual careers would be created. But most importantly the recruitment of bilingual and monolingual faculty, translators, and other service personnel was supposed to be of primary importance on the agenda.

[...]

Details

Pages
210
Year
2010
ISBN (eBook)
9783640931194
ISBN (Book)
9783640931040
File size
1.2 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v172999
Institution / College
Atlantic International University – School of Social and Human Studies
Grade
A
Tags
assessment effects affective student characteristics educational background mathematics achievement level higher education cameroon

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Title: Assessment of the Effects of Affective Student Characteristics and Educational Background on Mathematics Achievement at the Level of Higher Education in Cameroon