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The problem of mass failure in Physics and Mathematics has been with us for a long time in this country, and many students have been ruined by it, and their life dreams shattered due to failure to secure admission into higher institutions. I have taken pains to study this problem and the solution to it has been found.

 Causes of Failure

I started by identifying the various causes of this mass failure and they are listed below:

 1.        Wrong Teachers:-

In many schools, teachers who are very poor in Mathematics and Physics have been assigned to teach the subjects. This is often brought about by complete absence of mathematics and physics graduate teachers in these schools. Consequently, the principals of such schools resort to begging teachers who studied other subjects to try manage teaching physics or mathematics.

Sometimes, these teachers suffer humiliation and embarrassment in the hands of their students, some of whom are discovered to know and understand the subjects better than their teachers. In a number of cases, when students ask such teachers to explain some problems, they cleverly avoid such situations by abusing the students and blaming them for not knowing such “simple” things, and directing them to go to junior school students to ask them, claiming that the problem can be solved by even primary school pupils. Some others refuse to come to the aid of the inquisitive students by accusing them of not studying their books when they go home, but play away their time, and end up telling them to take home their problem as home work and get someone to help them solve it.

 2.          Insufficient Enrollment of Mathematics and Physics Students in Higher Institutions:

The reasons for this are not far-fetched. Any student who is good in physics or mathematics immediately begins to dream of becoming a doctor, an engineer, or an Architect. None of them hardly dream or long to become a teacher. Physics and Mathematics Departments in our higher institutions are usually filled up with students, who are not able to gain admission into any of the Medical or Engineering Departments, and who have merely accepted the study of physics or mathematics very reluctantly and as last resort. While in their higher institutions, they continue to struggle to transfer to Engineering or any other course which they consider better than studying mathematics or physics. It is generally believed that the place of a physics or mathematics graduate is in the classroom, and many of our children today do not want to end up being school teachers.

 Result of These:

The result of this dearth of mathematics and physics teachers and wrong and incompetent teachers being assigned to teach these students is that interest in the subjects is lost, and the students soon begin to avoid attending physics and mathematics lectures. They prefer to play away their time or do other things than to attend an uninspiring lecture where they know they will go as empty-handed in the subjects as they came, or even get further confused and disenchanted.

 3.         Attitude of the Students

It is common knowledge that one needs to have interest in a subject before one employs oneself to study and understand it. Apart from the loss of interest brought about by the factors emanating from the teachers as mentioned above, there is also this aspect of FEAR which pulls many students down right from the onset.

Many students fear mathematics as the Almighty subject that wields the power of determining their future. They believe it is very difficult to understand and develop fear and despondency as soon as the teacher enters to teach the subject.

 Consequently, they believe the only way to pass is to cheat and indulge in various forms of examination malpractice. Following the improved vigilance and tightening, which now dims the hope and reliance on exam malpractice to scale through, mass failure now becomes the order of the day.

 4.         Home Influence

Students are now subjected to a lot of distractions from the homes. These come in form of attractions to the watching of video films and excessive playing of music and other forms of entertainment in the homes, and parents not bothering to caution their children against the harmful effects of such over-indulgence in these distractions. In addition, many parents do not pray and do not teach their children to pray and attract God’s help in their studies by keeping His laws and obeying His commandments.


The solution to this ugly problem which will no doubt turn things around and put smile back on the faces of students after their examinations is as stated below:

Government should advertise for part-time employment or casual labour enrollment of persons known to be very good in physics and mathematics but who did not end up studying only these subjects in their Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

Such persons who are to be known as” Rescue” teachers can be found among the following:

 Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Architects, Economists, Pharmacists, Geologists, Surveyors and Youth Corpers.

 Undergraduates in these areas should also be encouraged to apply since they can always arrange to fix time for their teaching classes to correspond with their lecture-free periods in their tertiary institutions. Their payments or emoluments should be based on number of hours of teaching put in. Two or more Rescue teachers can be assigned to teach one subject to a particular class of students to ensure that the syllabuses are still covered, since some may just be able to offer one hour of teaching in a week.

Government will therefore determine how much to pay a Rescue teacher per hour of teaching, while the head teachers and principals monitor to ensure that adequate or quality teaching is put in within the hour. As this is not a permanent job, but a casual one, anyone found performing below expected quantum of teaching should be sacked and replaced by others begging to be engaged. With the involvement of undergraduates in the scheme, and with a little transportation allowance built into the emoluments, government will have by far more mathematics and physics teachers at its disposal and the problem of poor performance in mathematics and physics in examinations will become a thing of the past.

 Dr. Dennis Mary Chikata

Concerned Citizen.


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