CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS IN EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The study was conducted to determine the conflict management strategies of secondary school principals in Ebonyi state, Nigeria. Four research questions and two hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted descriptive survey research design. The population of the study is comprises of all the public secondary school principals and teachers in Ebonyi State. The sample for the study is 350 respondents drown from 20 secondary schools in two education zones of the area of the study. The instrument for data collection was a structured question titled conflict management strategies instrument. The instrument was validated by three experts and the suggestions of the experts were duly incorporated into the final draft of the instrument for data collection. The reliability coefficient of the instrument was computed using Cronbach Alpha reliability technique and a reliability coefficient of 0.74, 0.73, 0.80 and 0.81 for the four clusters 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively was obtained. The data for the study was collected with the help of four research assistants. The data generated for the study was analyzed using mean and standard deviation for answering the research questions while t-test statistics was used for testing the research hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. It was discovered from the findings that conflicts in schools are caused by misunderstanding, not taking instructions, poor communication, and lack of commitment, poor management and differences in opinion. It was recommended that Government should look into the issue of workers’ welfare to avert the incessant industrial actions, and provide adequate facilities in schools, evaluation standards should be designed for promotions and awards to deserving personnel to promote job satisfaction for schools personnel and that principals should design proper plans and follow correct procedures in managing conflict in their schools.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Since 1842, when the early missionaries established the first school in Nigeria, education has grown into a large and complex social organization. Most school systems like other social systems, now experience conflict. Conflict refers to perceived or experienced incompatible differences within the individual or between two or more individuals, which may lead to some or other form of opposition (Kroon, 1991). Gilman (2002) on the other hand states that conflict is the natural tension that arises from differences. Furthermore a conflict exists whenever people are in disagreement and opposition (Lussier, 2000). Similarly, Griffin (1990) views conflict as a disagreement between two or more individuals or groups. Moran (2001) sees conflict as an expression of hostility, antagonism and misunderstanding between the staff members. Conflict is inevitable and often good, for example, good teams always go through a "form, storm, norm and perform" period. Getting the most out of diversity means often-contradictory values, perspectives and opinions. However, one can define conflict as 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.

Conflict is a recurring decimal in all human relationships, be it in the family, institution or organization. The school, like any other modern institution is not without negative features, incompatible behaviours and conflicts which might be counter-productive and give rise to inefficiency, ineffectiveness or dysfunctional consequences in the achievement of goals and objectives (Adeola 2003). The researcher further states that school as a bureaucratic organization with division of labour, line of authority in terms of teacher-principal, subordinate-super ordinate relationships, rules and regulations, communication flow - upward, downward, horizontal, is bound to have conflicts. In view of this, Albert (2001) states that the conflict may be between staff and staff, staff and student or staff and the school administrator resulting in teacher-teacher conflict (TTC), teacher-student conflict (TSC) and principal-teacher conflict (PTC). Albert stated further that conflict in schools takes different forms; for example teachers seem reluctant to obey the principals, they do not seem to follow rules or accept extra work, they do not easily get along with their principals; principals too adopt an authoritative approach, for example they pressurize teachers for an uninterrupted working of the school activities; while students/learners may accuse teachers of sexual abuse and harassment, corporal punishment as well as being unprepared and uncaring. It therefore, becomes common that conflict between teachers, the school principal and students occur frequently at any time in the school. Conflict in schools occurs between various individuals because of their frequent interaction with each other. Conflict in academic settings is a daily occurrence because a consensus of opinion concerning rules governing the secondary schools among the participants -- principals, teachers, students, and parents. These parties, particularly Principals and teachers, see one another as adversaries, not as those working toward a common goal, as is generally the case in other organizations (Adeola, 2003).

The word conflict brings to mind situations such as antagonism, struggles between parties, opposition processes and threats to cooperation. But not all conflicts come in these forms especially in the school system. They come in form of needs to be met or desires to be satisfied, disagreements to be settled and ideas to be shared that eventually lead to change of attitudes, feelings and perceptions (Fadipe, 2000). Determinants of school organizational conflict have been traced to leadership styles of principals, structural variation in school organization, employee unionism and a host of other factors (Yakubu, 2006).

The foregoing information indicates that managing conflict in secondary schools has been an age long challenge for educators. If there has to be a positive culture of teaching and learning in the schools, the learning environment must be safe, orderly and conducive to learning. Learning to constructively deal with conflict is a life skill that secondary school community members need. When members learn to manage their own conflicts, the atmosphere in school becomes more pleasant for everyone (Adeyemi, 2009). However, Albert (2001) stated that conflicts may be caused by competition for inadequate resources, contradicting value system, psychological needs of group and individuals, manipulation of information and perception. Conflict if not well managed, becomes counter-productive, disruptive and unnatural and produces a deviation from the free flow of events. There are other factors that can contribute to the creation of conflict in organizations like task interdependence, scarce resources, goal incompatibility, communication failures, individual differences and poorly designed reward system (Bartol & Martine in Mgbekem, 2004).

Conflict is necessary and useful part of organizational life. It is inevitable and an integral part of the process of change. Indeed, it is an aid to cooperation, not an obstacle. There are two sides to conflict, one is destructive and unhealthy and the other has a problem-solving base where those involved are willing to transform personality differences, to listen to others’ views and to be open and truthful to each other, to be supportive and helpful whereas the former defeats cooperation. Albert (2001) declared that there are productive and destructive conflicts. Albert further stated that conflict is said to be positive when it is constructively discussed by the parties and amicable terms for settlement reached”. Constructively managed conflict induces a positive performance while poorly managed conflict heats up the environment to bring about ‘dislocation and division of the entire group, reduces productivity on job performance, psychological and physical injury, emotional distress and inability to sleep, escalation of differences into antagonistic position and malice and increases hostility (Akanji, 2005). The researcher emphasized that through conflict management, a cooperative atmosphere is created for promoting opportunities and movement directed towards non-violent and reconciliation. However, no matter how one looks at conflict, it is important to realize that conflict is one of the best ways in the world to turn the tide and improve unsatisfactory conditions. As a matter of fact, sometimes there may be no real dispute to be managed, but there may be need for greater understanding, cooperation and team work to promote interpersonal harmony and good organizational climate for teaching and learning (Bondesio, 2000). Therefore, conflict should not always be seen as something undesirable but rather as a necessary instrument that can bring positive consequences if properly managed.


Conflict is inevitable in any organization and the school is not an exception, the crucial issue is, how to react to, respond to and manage conflicts so that positive changes will be realized and negative effects minimized. Poor management of conflict in school administration may result to deficiencies in the performance of the school. Conflict management refers to programs that teach individuals concepts and skills for preventing, managing and peacefully resolving conflicts (Jones, 1994). According to Johannsen and Page (1996), conflict management refers to the identifying of divergences of interest between groups or individuals and the constructive reconciling or balancing of these divergences so that they are acknowledged and expressed. Robbins (2000) stipulated that conflict management entails maintaining the optimum level of conflict in a group. Too little conflict creates stagnation; too much conflict creates disruption and indigestion. Both are dysfunctional because they undermine group performance. Moran (2001) stated that conflict management is “a philosophy and a set of skills that assist individuals and groups in better understanding and dealing with.....

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 80 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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