The study focused on the influence of teacher competence on students’ academic performance in public senior secondary school. Three research questions guided the study. Questionnaire was used to collect data and was analyzed using mean and standard deviation. This study utilized a survey research design. A survey research design is one in which a group of people or items are studied by collecting and analyzing the data from a selected people or items considered to be representative of the entire group. According to the teachers list of the schools selected for the study, 370 secondary school teachers made it into the sampling frame. From the responses to the various questionnaire items, findings revealed that teachers in the zone are competent in the use of teaching skills and are knowledgeable in their subject matter but are incompetent in the use of instructional materials. Based on the findings, implications were drawn and the researcher recommend among other things that Teacher Education Institutions and the Facilities of Education in our various universities should spearhead English Language and ICT initiatives through training teachers to equip them with the required skills and knowledge to prepare them for classroom instruction. Suggestions for further research on similar topics were made for the purpose of comparing the findings with the findings of this study. Finally, conclusions were drawn.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The teacher occupies a very important position in any school system. According to Akande (2005), teachers’ work is very crucial because without the teacher, there will be no president, no governors, no senators and illiteracy would have covered the whole earth. With the teacher, there is enlightenment, knowledge and civilization in the world. No nation can rise above its teachers. Therefore, the teaching profession is important because it is the job that produces educated and learned people for the development of the society (Wuji, 2005).
Before one becomes a professional English Language teacher, a studious stage is passed through. For instance Uzor (2006) agrees that a teacher passes through the teacher-training college or the University education to become a trained teacher. According to Uzor, the essence of an English language teacher going through rigorous teacher-education or training, is to arm oneself with the appropriate skill, ability and expertise that are inherent in the teaching and learning processes in the subject-matter. As Onyeji (2007) puts it, English language teachers are trained in order to acquire the needed skills of teaching i.e. knowing what to teach (mastery of content) and knowing how to teach (mastery of methodology). The English language teacher, who is trained and experienced, equally knows how to manage the classroom and how to deliver the objectives of what is taught in the classroom. At any stage or school level, a teacher requires to acquire cognate experience and training to effectively deliver the good in the classroom, appropriately as a professional. Abagunde (2004), opined that, students’ performance in English language is largely dependent on the extent of how teaching is carried out in the classroom.
For an English teacher to effectively handle any subject, preparation is needed. This could be in terms of reading through what is to be taught, writing note of lessons, doting appropriately all ‘Ts’ and all ‘I’s’, in order to deliver the lesson effectively and for the students to maximize the objectives of what has been taught. According to Arinze (2004), effective teacher preparation in English language comes as a result of previous professional development the teacher had undergone. This culminates from the strict education the teacher has received which had helped him to master the nitty-gritty of the arts of teaching and classroom management (Greenfield, 2006).