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Background to the Study

Education is the transmission of ideas and values through formal, informal and non-formal teaching and learning for the development of the ‘whole’ man in relation to the dynamic needs of the society. It is an important sector in every country hence the immense relevance of education in national development cannot be over-emphasized. In realization of this, the Federal government of Nigeria adopted education as an instrument  par excellence for effecting national development based on the five main national objectives as listed in the National Policy on Education which are the building of: (a) a free and democratic society; (b) a just and egalitarian society; (c) a united, strong and self-reliant nation; (d) a great and dynamic economy and (e) a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens (Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004).

Nigeria’s philosophy of education believes that education is an instrument par excellence for national development and the fostering of the worth and development of the individual. To this end, Nigeria’s philosophy of education is based on the development of the individual into a sound and effective citizen; the full integration of the individual into the community; and the provision of equal access to educational opportunities for all citizens of the country at primary, secondary and tertiary levels both inside and outside the formal school system. The transmission of these national goals from which the philosophy of education are drawn is carried out by teachers who are the  key actors in the education sector. Teachers in the school organization perform the function of teaching, record keeping, supervision, counselling and maintaining discipline among pupils. The teacher is of paramount importance in the education system. The teacher is the custodian of knowledge and instructor of instruction. This is why it is often said that no nation can grow above the quality of its teaching force (FRN, 2004).

In Nigeria, the administration of the education sector is at national, state and local government levels by statutory authorities. In the administration of education, the system operates at four levels: the pre-primary, primary, post primary and tertiary levels. In all these levels, the child is seen to be at the centre hence education is said to be child centred. Primary education plays an important role in the life of an individual as well as the nation as a whole. The National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) refers to the education at this level as the education given in institutions for children aged 6 to 11 plus. The document added that since the rest of education system is built upon it, the primary level is the key to the success or failure of the whole system. To achieve these, all teachers to whom the responsibilities and care of their pupils are entrusted, are expected to be knowledgeable in the laws of education so as to impart to the pupils all that education entails for the optimal educational advancement of the pupils, the school and society at large.

Today we are living in a highly litigious society and more so than ever before, our citizenry is quite keen on their individual rights and very prepared to advocate for those rights. Technological advances especially with respect to the use of the internet and the media in general have facilitated individuals becoming informed as to what those rights are and what they should do if they perceive those rights to have been violated. School is a collection of individual persons who bring with them daily into their classrooms an array of highly complicated issues, ranging from low self esteem to peer pressures regarding drugs and sex, just to mention a few. It is little wonder that many of those happenings evoke and often necessitate legal or quasi-legal responses from teachers and school administrators. Thus teachers need to be acquainted with the knowledge of education law to manage pupils‘ misconduct.

Education law is the name given to the branch of civil law that covers the laws and regulations that govern federal and state education, including the administration and operation of educational institutions, school athletics, instruction methods, programmes and materials. According to Omoregie (2009), education law is an aspect of the system of social control. It centres on those areas of control which look at or focus on educational activities such as the operation of public and private schools (primary, secondary and post secondary). Education law covers a wide range of subject matter including the basic fields of contract, properties, torts, constitutional law and other areas of law, which concern education. Therefore, education law  can be seen as a set of rules or guides formulated to ensure peace, stability and order in schools. It regulates the general discharge of teachers’ responsibilities in school, especially the aspect that deals with pupils’ behaviour.

While education law is evolving to meet the demands of society and the needs of schools, how well educators, in general, are keeping themselves informed about relevant legal issues is questionable. However, school-based administrators cannot claim ignorance of the law since statutes and legislation provide the framework for most of the administrative decisions they make; their decisions must also be based on legal principles, (Brien 2004). Teachers should know the law as it applies to education in order to be aware of their own rights and responsibilities, and to be able to act confidently when making decisions which relate to legal issues in their practice. Furthermore, a solid foundation of relevant legal knowledge relating to education is an essential aspect of their accountability to pupils, staff, and community.

Pupils are priceless assets and most essential elements in education. It is absolutely necessary to direct pupils to exhibit acceptable  attitude and behaviour within and outside the school. In an attempt to achieve an organised and peaceful school environment and maintain law and order, school management specifies rules and regulations to guide the activities of members of the educational organisation.

Pupils’ discipline is a prerequisite to almost everything a school has to offer pupils. Discipline is related to the culture and climate of a school. In order for a satisfactory climate to exist within a school, a certain level of discipline must exist. In schools where discipline is a serious problem, for example, where pupils bully others, parents can transfer their children to “better” schools.  According to Nakpodia (2010), pupils’ indiscipline seems to be ubiquitous in the 21st century in Nigerian schools. Child’s discipline is a part of socialization. With the recent increase in school enrolment,  pupils’ disciplinary problems are bound to accentuate and cause “more burdens on teachers and school administrators. Pupils’ indiscipline has plaqued schools leading to series of unrest. It is observed that pupils resort to using unconstitutional measures in channelling their grievances and teachers have been blamed for the awkward and uncivilized behaviour demonstrated by the pupils. This situation has been a major concern to parents and those in the school community who suggest that disciplinary strategies be applied by teachers and that rapport be created between pupils and teachers as a systematic way to solving the problems.

In Nigerian law, the human right principles which also apply to pupils  as citizen of the country are prescribed in sections 30-40 of the 1999 constitution. Rules and regulations for legal enforcement must be tailored along these sections of the constitution. For in the infringement of the rights of the individuals, unless such practices are proved reasonable and justifiable in the eyes of the law, the individual may disagree and challenge disciplinary measures.         Due to the peculiar nature of the school, there are many areas a teacher has to conduct disciplinary matters. The rules and regulations are thus made to cover many grounds affecting the pupils’ school attendance, use of uniform, personal appearance of the pupil, use and misuse of school property, pupil-pupil relationship, pupil-teacher relationship, class regulations and test/examination. A teacher involved in handling any of the above school matters must do it within the limit of the law.

In most Nigerian schools, especially at the elementary level, administration of punishment  cannot be ruled out in the control and discipline of pupils. The right and authority of a teacher to inflict punishment on pupils for offences of breaking school rules and regulations, is enhanced by section 34, sub section (1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999) which specifies peoples’ right to personal liberty, and instances in which a person who has not attained the age of eighteen may be deprived of his rights to personal liberty,  specifically, for education and welfare purposes. However, punishment must be reasonable and properly meted out to the pupils on account of the offence committed, it should be moderate and commensurate with the offence committed.

Children’s social behaviour can be modelled positively when teachers see themselves as role models for pupils and expertly create deliberate interactions in classrooms in such a way as to foster satisfaction than frustrations. Under such an environment, cooperation, efficiency, cohesion, trust and mutual identification is most likely to result since it is believed that teachers are also aware that classroom experiences provide opportunities for children to mature socially and acquire knowledge. According to Ofoyuru and Lawrence (2011), when disciplinary measures are used excessively they frustrate pupils.


Statement of the Problem

The purpose of discipline in schools is to promote learning. Schools are established and maintained so that pupils will learn. In order to learn,  certain standard of behaviour must be in place. Pupils  show disrespect head-teachers and class teachers, spend their times doing all sorts of disrespectful  acts violating the rules and regulation guiding school system.

In the course of addressing these school problems, most teachers tried in their various capacities by adopting punitive and other related measures in managing their pupils’ disciplinary problems. Unfortunately, their efforts seem not to have yielded positive result, as the punitive measures have landed some teachers in litigations. For instance, Olupohunda (2013), reported that, in Awka, Anambra State, Chidinma Ukachukwu, a pupil of Saint John of God Secondary School was flogged to death by her teacher, Mrs. Njideka Imoko, for not doing her assignment. In Osun State, Joshua Ajayi a pupil of Geometry International Group of Schools was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher over a case of truancy. In Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, it was also reported that a 13 year old pupil of Shiloh Hill Remedial and Advanced College was allegedly flogged till he slumped and died by his principal, Mr. Chudi Nwoko. According to Olupohunda (2013), these killer teachers are facing trials in the various court of law.These evidences of litigations have not change the attitude of teachers in management of pupils’ disciplinary problems in primary schools, as most teachers still use punitive measures without considering the rights of pupils.

The question is how knowledgeable are teachers of public primary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District, Nigeria of the content of education law? It is against this backdrop the researcher decided to investigate  teachers’ knowledge of education law  the management of pupils’ disciplinary problems in public primary schools.


Research Questions

The following questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. Are teachers in public primary schools acquainted with education law?
  2. Are there established rules and regulations guiding the conduct of public primary schools pupils?
  3. Is there any relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and their establishment of rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the pupils in public primary schools?
  4. What pupils’ disciplinary problems do teachers experience in public primary schools?
  5. What are the methods used by teachers in managing  pupils’ disciplinary problems in the public primary schools?
  6. Is there any relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and their methods of managing pupils’ disciplinary problems in public primary schools?


Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were  formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. There is no significance relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and their establishment of rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the pupils in public primary schools
  2. There is no significance relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and their methods of managing pupils’ disciplinary problems in the public primary schools.


Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to investigate teachers’ knowledge of education law and their management of primary school pupils’ disciplinary problems in Edo central Senatorial District. The specific objectives were to:

*          examine if teachers in public primary schools are acquainted with education law

*          examine if there are established rules and regulations guiding the conducts of public                                            primary school pupils

*          find out if there is any relationship between education law and the established rules           and regulations guiding the conduct of the pupils in public primary schools

*          examine pupils disciplinary problems teachers experienced in public primary schools

*         examine the methods teachers use in managing the pupils disciplinary problems in the        public primary schools and

*         find out if there is any relationship between teachers knowledge of education law and       their methods of managing pupils disciplinary problems in the public primary schools.

Significance of the Study

The findings of the study will be beneficial to the government, teachers, pupils and parents. It will be of great benefit to the government irrespective of the level, as the study will bring to the notice of the teachers the best way to manage pupils disciplinary problems in schools and facilitate pupils academic achievement, which in turn will lead to the overall development of the country. It  will be of help to the teachers, as the study will bring to their notice the necessary sections of the law that is backing their disciplinary actions in the classroom which in turn will save them from taking laws into their hands.

The findings will be of benefit to the pupils as teachers effectiveness in the management of discipline occasioned by the knowledge of education law will put an end to disruptive behaviour in the classroom, which in turn will enhance their academic performance and make them useful in the society.

Lastly, the findings of the study will be of great help to the parents, as teachers effectiveness in the management of classrooms will boost pupils’ performance, thus facilitating parents rate of returns in terms of the money invested in their children’s education.

Scope of the Study

The study was  restricted to public primary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District of Edo State. Teachers in the schools  formed  the respondents of the study. The content of the study  covered   teachers’ knowledge of education law, establishment of rules and regulations in public primary schools, the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and the establishment of the rules and regulations, pupils’ disciplinary problems  experienced by teachers  in schools, methods of managing the pupils’ disciplinary problems, and the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of education law and their methods of managing the pupils’ disciplinary problems in schools.


Operational Definition of Terms

Education Law: In this study, education law is a set of rules or guides formulated to ensure peace, stability, and order in school.

Knowledge of Education Law:  This refers to the extent teachers is acquainted with the rules and regulations that guide all schools’ activities. In other words, it refers to the level of teachers’ awareness of the rules and regulations that guide school activities.

Disciplinary Problems: This refers to the problems that result from the violation of rules and regulations.

School Discipline: This is the system of rules, punishments, and behavioural strategies appropriate to the regulation of children or adolescents and the maintenance of order in schools. Its aim is to control pupils’ actions and behaviours.

Methods of managing Disciplinary Problems: This refers to the techniques employed by school administrators to correct the violation of rules and regulations by pupils.


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