An Investigation into the causes of high failure rate in Mathematics among girls at one selected Secondary School in Bindura District in Zimbabwe
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Mathematics pass rates at `O` Level in Zimbabwean schools fall far short of national expectations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the causes of high failure rate among girls in mathematics in the national examination of Zimbabwe Certificate of Secondary Education (ZCSE) at Chipadze Secondary school in Bindura District, Zimbabwe County. The study was guided by objectives such as to determine the level to which teachers contribute to poor performance by girls, to find out whether or not resources contribute to poor performance by girls, find out whether or not lack of parental involvement contributes to poor performance by girls and to find out whether or not school conditions affect girls’ performance at Ordinary Level mathematics. Ordinary level students’ performance in mathematics had decreased gradually in most schools in the Mashonaland Central Province. Some of the causes of low performance by girls in mathematics at `O` level were found to be home background, socio-economic factors, poor teaching methods, shortage of resources at schools and the level of education of parents. The researcher went on to discuss the literature review, on causes of poor performance in mathematics by girls. This literature review assisted the researcher to identify some loopholes that need to be corrected. The method used in the study is the qualitative research design. This method can be described as an inquiry process of understanding based on some district methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. In qualitative research, the research is the instrument or the tool for designing, collecting and analysing the research. The sample is a part or subset of a population. The study employed a descriptive survey research design based on a cross sectional descriptive research and data was collected using interviews and questionnaires administered to 20 students, 5 teachers and 5 members from the SDC? The data was analysed in the form of tables, histogram and a pie chart. The findings indicated that the boys performed better in mathematics than girls at this secondary school. 30% of the girls said that lack of interest in mathematics contributed to their poor performances and 44.6% said that the learning environment affected their performances. 31.7% of the girls said that they lack qualified teachers while 51.5% criticized on the biased instruction methods. 75.7% of the girls admitted that lack of proper preparation for examinations lead to their poor performance while incompletion of the syllabus affected the performance of 63.4% of the girls. 53.5% of the girls said that their parents were not fully concerned about their academics. Lack of vocational guidance and career counselling contributed to poor performance according to 68.6% of the female students. Parental involvement, workshops for teachers, provision of adequate teaching resources, career counselling are effective strategies, which can be used to improve the girls’ performance in mathematics. The study was then winded up by a summary of the whole dissertation, conclusion, strategies for improvement and some possible recommendations that is suggested solutions to the research problem. Findings of the study will be useful to the Ministry of Education (MoE), school managers and other stakeholders.