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ASSESSMENT OF HEADS OF SCHOOLS’ STRATEGIES IN MANAGING CONFLICTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS ADMINISTRATION IN ENUGU METROPOLIS


Project topic for Peace Studies department

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study 

Today, the demand for effective management of schools is rapidly taking central stage more than ever, in Nigeria (Okumbe, 2009). Secondary school education in Nigeria and in other sub-Saharan African countries is considered as an important sub-sector in the education system as well as for the development of the country’s economy. For example, inputs into higher learning educational institutions and in the labour force in Nigeria depend on qualified outputs from secondary schools (Haki elimu, 2007). Therefore for a school to be effective, individual members need to be able to work in a conflict free environment.

Educational management in secondary schools involves the application of management values and skills in designing, developing and effecting resources towards achievement of educational goals. The effective coordination in management is of great potentialities for provision of quality secondary education (Duncan, 1975). Khan et al, (2009) asserted that the overall responsibility for a school’s head is conflicts management in school. Babyegeya (2002) defines conflict as a breakdown of communication among members of the organization. He adds that the more closely people are expected to work together, the more the possibility of conflict to rise. In that case conflict management is perceived as part of school administration problem and has become part and parcel of Nigeria secondary schools and educational institutions. The nature and types of conflicts that occur in secondary school administration vary from one school to another. In that way conflict may have either a positive or a negative effect on school performance, depending on the nature of the conflict and how it is managed (Armstrong, 2009). 

Conflict also consists actions that we take to express our feelings articulate our perception and get our need met in a way that has potential for interfering with someone else ability to get his or her needs met. This conflict behavior may involve a direct attempt to make something happen at someone else expense. It may be an exercise of power, violet or destructive. Based on literature reviews several types of conflicts are experienced in educational institutions. These include intra personal, intra group, inter personal and inter group.

Robbins (2003), intra personal conflicts involve conflicts within an institution set up. This includes conflict between heads of school and the specific member of or any specific individual. Intra group conflicts involve differences within a certain group. This may include conflicts within the staff, the students, parents, the sponsor or any other stakeholders in school. Interpersonal conflicts are the conflicts between persons. This may include conflict between specific staff members and students, specific teacher and parents. Within a group similarlyinter group conflicts may include conflict between various groups in educational institution. The group could be between staff and student, and other groups or stakeholders, in general conflicts at any given secondary school may be beneficial or none, towards institutions’  achievement, it is the result of being the type and the way of handling process.  

To devise appropriate strategies for effective management of school conflict to enhance school effectiveness. But the developing an effective strategy for conflict management in secondary schools require the involvement of corporate level of management,  which stipulates strategies to cope with any hazardous situation when happens in the education enterprise working in harmony and unity and with some measurable similarities in patterns of conflict management strategy that means all stakeholders in the education industry should have common purpose and focus on strategies for conflict management in the school (Leithwood & Hallinger2002). Depicted that there is an increase of productivity and school effectiveness in institutions whereby there is countable organizational conflict among board members, heads, teachers and students. According to Browarys and Price (2008) the management strategies that could be used to resolve conflicts include: compromise, collaboration, accommodation, coercion, confrontation, reconciliation, control of rewards, and climate of trust, formal authority, effective communication and avoidance. Also they base their approaches on the principles of authority and unity of command to eliminate conflicts. They believe that conflicts could be eliminated or avoided by recruiting the right people, carefully specifying job descriptions, structuring the organization in such a way as to establish a clear chain of command, and establishing clear rules and procedures to meet various contingencies. Ibukun (1997) highlighted some conflict resolution measures such as the use of authority and command, problem solving, appeal to superior organization goals, changing the structure of the organization, prevention and avoidance, expansion of opportunities and resources, and compromise.

Olaleye and Arogundade (2013) argued that different management strategies may lead to either desirable or undesirable outcomes depending on their effectiveness or ineffectiveness, respectively. Effective management strategy may result in desirable outcome such as smooth management, enhanced discipline, and effective management of time, team spirit, and effective use of resources, achievement of goals, good relationships and great value by stakeholders. However, when ineffective management strategy is used, undesirable outcomes such as strikes, demonstrations, destruction of property, poor performance, emotional stress, and misallocation of resources, absence and frustration may occur (Athiambo& Simatwa, 2011). Certainly, secondary school specifically Nigeria the heads of schools seems to be most significant medium toward delivering educational services. Mosha (1994) suggests that conflicts are integral part of any social system and that they need to be properly managed in order to create a health organizational climate that is so important for effective performance of responsibilities. Okotoni (2002) in Nigeria found out that the issue of conflict management becomes paramount for goal accomplishment in Osun state whereby teachers had to embark on a prolonged strike over the non-implementation of the harmonized salary structure announced by the federal government. All these become potential sources of industrial conflicts not only in the educational sector, but also in the entire civil service in the state (Okotono, 2002). Athiambo and Simwata (2011) argue that educational institutions in Kenya occasionally experienced conflict of varied nature, due to different reasons which most of the conflict ends up being destructive to life and property. Somech (2008) on managing conflict in school teams, the impact of task and goal interdependence on conflict management and team effectiveness findings indicate that the configuration of task and goal interdependence affects a team’s conflict management style, which in turn affects team performance. While this has been general, this study sought to assess the effectiveness of strategies used by heads of school in managing conflicts in secondary schools in Enugu Metropolis.

Personnel in education institutions have different ideologies, culture, value and role preferences and this makes conflict inevitable and ubiquitous in schools. Conflict is a disagreement or opposition between two or more parties. This often results to clash, argument and collision among others. This argument is in consonance with the contention made by Adeyemi and Ademilua (2012) that conflict is all forms of opposition, disagreement, friction between two or more parties and it manifests in the forms of arguments, protests, demonstration, aggression and other destructive behaviours. It arises from incompatibility of interest, needs, values and ideas among others. In the same vein, Premchandani (2014) pointed out that conflict may arise between two individuals when there is high level of interdependence, having different goals, ideas, needs, value systems, perceptions, expectations, interests or incompatible personalities. Conflict occurs when personnel in school disagree or take opposing stands concerning issues and this can be expressed through argument, protest or any form of action. Atieno, Kiplagatand Yego (2016) stressed that conflicts are inevitable, it is believed that there will always be disagreements among school administration, teachers and students. Furthermore, Atieno et al stressed that conflicts  may present through; students not obeying school rules,  students  not doing manual work,  students  not respecting teachers,  students  engaging in vices  like theft, fights, bullying or not attending lessons; teachers not respecting the principal or not completing curriculum, the principal’s style of leadership demeaning teachers and disregarding students, among others. Adeyemi (2010) reported that in the Nigerian school system, conflict occurs from time to time.

 The strategies for managing it have remained topical issues in every organization. At secondary school level, it is one of duties of the principal to manage conflict in order reduce the negative outcomes of disputes and promote calm atmosphere for effective teaching and learning. To buttress this, Atieno et al stressed that since conflicts have the potential of advancing to more confiscation by day, the principals have to put in place management mechanisms for putting them in check so that they do not unnecessarily cause physical, psychological or emotional problems. Conflict management strategies are the practices, mechanisms or techniques applied in minimizing, recognizing, handling and setting disputes in a balance or rational way. Many scholars have identified different conflict management strategies being used in organizations. Kalagbor and Nnokam (2015) outlined conflict management strategies to include: integrating, compromising, avoiding, and dominating. In a related study, Sasa, Mateja and Joze (2011) identified conflict management strategies as: integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding and compromising. The conflict management strategies of the above authors which were adopted in this study included: integrating strategies, compromising strategies and dominating strategies. There is no best conflict management strategy; it is essential for principals apply the strategy that fits best in the situation at hand. Application is the art of putting strategies, policies, techniques or any thing into use in order to achieve pre-determined objectives.

Integrating strategy is a way of managing conflict involves gathering and organizing information about a dispute before the final decision is made resolving the conflict. Sasa, Mateja and Joze (2011) pointed out that this strategy involves openness, the exchange of information and examination of difference to reach an effective solution acceptable to both parties. Kalagbor and Nnokam (2015) asserted that this strategy enable parties involve in conflict to pool all their information together, put their differences on the table and examine them along with any data that might contribute to a resolution.  Furthermore, Kalagbor and Nnokam pointed out that this leads to the development of alternative solution which addresses all parts of the conflict, other than the initial solutions of the parties.

 Comprising strategy is a technique in which, the needs of every person involved in disagreement or opposition is taken into account before the final decision is made resolving the conflicts. In this strategy, both parties have to make sacrifice so as settle the dispute. This strategy allows conflicting parties to express and understand each other’s needs and thus reach concessions in resolving the conflict. In compromise, each person has something to give and something to take (Kalagbor & Nnokam, 2015). Principals need to create open dialogue, provide answer that is fair to both parties in this dispute and assign value to all aspects of the conflict issues in order to effectively apply this strategy. Sasa et al (2011) stressed that this strategy involves give-and-take whereby both parties give up something to arrive at a mutually acceptable decision. Arguing in the same line Akuffo, (2015) pointed out that in this strategy, parties deliberately come to consensus to forgone something which is very important to both parties for agreement to be reached. 

 Dominating strategy is more of autocratic means of managing conflict. Wekhian (2015) stressed that dominating strategy involves forcing one’s views on others. In applying dominating strategies, principals employ tactics in resolving conflict without considering the view of parties involved. Principal that apply this strategy in managing conflict dictate the solution to the issues at the moment. This strategy does not allow inputs from the conflicting parties in the school system. When time is short and quick decision is needed to resolve dispute, this strategy is appropriate. However, when this strategy is often used, it could escalate the conflict, bread resentment and create poor interpersonal relationship in the school. 

 Multiple studies have investigated the influence of gender in the application of conflict management strategies. Gender is a physical, biological and behaviourable characteristics which differentiate masculinity and feminity. A study carried out by Asemamaw and Narayana (2014) in Ethiopia reported that gender had a significant impact on the compromising and integrating conflict management strategies preference of a manager, meanwhile, these difference was not found for avoiding, dominating and obliging conflict management strategies. In related study conducted by Babajide (2013) in south-western, Nigeria revealed that there was no significant difference between male and female managers conflict management strategies preference. A similar study conducted by Premchandani (2014) in Indore indicated that there was no significant difference between male and female management conflict management strategies. These research studies show that the influence of gender on conflict management strategies has yield inconsistent results and thus the need to investigate gender as a moderating variable in the study. This will give a more visible picture of gender’s influence on the application of conflict management strategies in Anambra State. When there is minimum conflict in the school, all activities or programmes are likely to be effectively administered and students learn better.

 Effective school administration is the abilities of the school manager to apply principles, policies and appropriates practices so as to help bring about optimum achievement of the school pre-determined objectives. In the same view, Alabi (2017) defined effective school administration as the ability of the school manager to help bring about optimum achievement of the school predetermined objectives. Effective school administration is evident in excellent academic performance of students, motivation and supervision of staff personnel to improve their performance, good school-community relations, proper financial, record, conflict and school plant management among others. In the view of Ereh and Okon (2015) when an administrator or principal is able to successfully manage all the school’s instruction programmes and the various academic activities in school, monitor teachers’ progress and job performance, using their record appropriately, recommending staff for development, motivating them accordingly through various welfare scheme, recommending them for promotion when due and being interested in their personal matters, then one can describe such an administrator as an effective administrator. Co-operation and support which could only exist in the absence of or management of conflict in the workplace is imperative for smooth school administration. All these point to the fact that conflict management is very important for effective school administration. However, evidence abound that conflict exists in secondary schools in Anambra State and has been observed to have most often threatened the peaceful co-existence of principals, staff and students (Ezeugbor, Onyali & Okoye, 2015). Conflict that exists in secondary schools in Anambra State appears to be evident in principals’ criticism of staff in front of students, teachers rude words in response to principal, exchange of unpleasant words among principals and staff, poor interpersonal relationship, hatred among principals and staff, teachers’ gossiping of principals among others. With all these unpleasant situations surrounding secondary schools in Enugu State, it becomes imperative ascertain principals’ application of conflict management strategies for school effective administration in the state.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Kochhar (1988), points out that school are organizations in their own right have managers who are judge with the responsibility of maintain their stability in order to achieve the organization goal. He emphasizes the importance of the principal who is the key cornerstone in the arch of school management and has the steering wheel in his hands.

The author asserts that the principals should be group leader who knows how to involve people, arrange conditions, and initiate process that bring out the best in each participant. In that aspect, he emphasized that the heads of secondary schools at any given work place (school) stimulate and encourage team work among other working staffs, the secondary school heads are supposed to lead their subordinates in the way that conflict remains theory, in the existence of the organization, thus the heads of secondary schools are responsibly involved in conflict management directly at their schools.  Although by virtue of power heads of schools in Nigeria have been giver power to manage conflicts in school. It has been observed that, most of the schools conflicts between teachers and heads of schools, teachers and students, teacher to teachers or teachers and parents occurred often (Haki elimu, 2007, Mosha, (2006). Hence, this study aimed to assess effectiveness of strategies used by school heads in managing conflicts in secondary schools in Enugu Metropolis.

1.3       General Objective

The main objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of strategies used by school heads in managing conflicts in secondary schools in Enugu Metropole.

1.3.1    Specific objectives

To examine the heads of school knowledge and skills in managing conflicts in secondary schools.

To examine strategies employed by heads of school in managing school conflicts 

To assess the effectiveness of strategies used by the heads of schools in managing conflicts and challenges they face in applying the identified strategies for managing conflicts?

To suggest measures that could be taken to avoid future conflicts in schools.

1.4       Research Questions

Do heads of school of possess knowledge and skills in managing conflicts in schools?

What strategies are used by heads of schools in managing conflicts in schools?

How effective are the strategies used by the heads of schools in managing conflicts and challenges they face in applying the identified strategies for managing conflicts?

What measures should be taken to avoid conflicts?

1.5       Significance of the Study

This study has the following significant: first, the study findings may be of great potentialities to heads of schools in understanding challenges they face in managing school conflicts and how they can manage conflicts in school. Findings may also help teachers to understand challenges face school heads in managing conflicts. The study findings also may be useful to district education officers in understanding challenges school heads face in managing conflicts in school. Second, the study also may be useful to policy makers in understanding heads of schools capability in managing conflicts in schools. Third, study also contributes knowledge on existing literature related to conflicts in school contexts. Lastly, the study will lay foundations for further studies in the field of education management.

1.6       Delimitation of the Study

This study was focused on the conflict management strategies used by heads of schools in Enugu Metropolis. The study involved on five secondary schools out of forty five secondary schools in Enugu Metropolis.

1.7       Definitions of Some Terminologies

Conflict: in this study conflict refers to the tension between two or more social entities (individual, groups, or organizations) that arise from incapability of actual or desired responses.

 Management: in this study management refers to the process of coordinating all resources through the process of planning, organizing, leading and controlling in order to attain stand objectives. Since the study dealt with conflict management, thus management is part and parcel of the study.

Conflict management: in this study conflict management refers to the process of becoming aware of actual or potential conflict, diagnosing its nature and scope and employing appropriate methodology to diffuse the emotion energy, involved and enable disputing parties to understand and resolve their differences in the schools setting.  

Conflict resolution: in this study refers tothe process of attempting to resolve conflict.

Conflict resolution strategy: in this study implies a method desired to develop peaceful means finally ending a state of conflict, in that sense the study used the term strategies as means or methods to be applied in conflict resolution process.


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