1.1 Background to the Study
Education system in Nigeria runs a continuum from primary to tertiary and in between can be found the secondary level of education. It can therefore be seen as the bridge interconnecting primary education and tertiary education. It also has the function of producing artisans who desire to improve their lot through technical knowledge and vocational skills that could be acquired from comprehensive high schools and technical colleges. The public secondary schools under study like other schools in the same category in Nigeria are established to carry out these specialized tasks and in order to achieve these objectives of establishment there are offices for different positions, such as principals, bursars, subject teachers, typists, librarians etc and these offices are filled by qualified and competent personnel. Each occupant of these positions is expected to perform a set of specialized functions and such stable patterns of individual behaviors are called roles, which is a part that one plays within a system.
Staff conflict as expressed by various organizations is not an empirical phenomenon; rather it can be seen as an engine of change and a product of change. The occurrence of conflict in educational institutions especially in public secondary schools is largely attributable to the way such schools are structured and the behavior of the individuals within these structures as they relate with one another and the community around them. Conflict management as a phenomenon is an integral part of the administration of any given organization. The school as an organization consists of people with different background with regard to their competences, needs, values, skills, aspirations and psychological make-ups. Thus no organization can successfully accomplish its set objectives without having to deal with organizational conflicts as Ejiogu (1990) posited that conflicts are bound to occur from time to time in all human interactions and organizational behaviors. Conflict therefore is an inevitable part of school life; since we agree to the fact that where there are people, there is bound to be conflict. Though some of these conflicts are healthy and if viewed positively can be change drivers, some can be detrimental to the achievement of school goals. Corwin (1996) stated that unhealthy conflict if it raises its head repeatedly, pose the potential risk of causing negative business consequences. Since conflict is an organizational behavior we therefore cannot dispute the fact that there is a positive relationship between Organizational behavior and organizational output. Since conflict is a change driver, individuals that generate conflict can as well generate change thus Dip Paola and Hoy (2001, pp. 238-244) in their study found that militant personnel were not only conflict-oriented but also engines of change.
In line with the above, Secondary school heads need to take conflict management as a very important aspect of school administration because conflicts and attempts at conflict management is very vital in shaping organizational behavior towards achievement of set objectives. Therefore since conflict is an integral aspect of all organizational behavioral system due to the diversities inherent in men and women who work in these organizations as well as the structure of these organizations and being one of the most frequently reoccurring issues in many institutions and organizations, education managers and school heads need to give more attention to the principles or strategies of managing these conflicts. Corwin (1996) argues that there is the need to analyze conflicts in public schools in order to increase our capacity to understand the teaching profession and the challenges it faces. Therefore, conflict management in the school system is an issue that every school administrator and employees within the school system have to deal with at one time or the other. The basics of conflict management include teamwork, communication and a systematic approach to solving the disagreement. Van Slyck and Stem (1991) believed that competence in conflict resolution skills can lead to increased social and academic achievement in the short run and a more harmonious world in the long run.
Interpersonal conflict is an inevitable consequence of human interaction. Schools are not immune to this and it can have deleterious impacts on the environment and on school success (Sompa, 2015; Kalagbor and Nnokam, 2015). Of all the conflicts that might exist in a school, those between principals and teachers can be the most debilitating. Interpersonal conflict between principals and teachers, can severely damage school climate, erode a good school culture, and eventually affect student achievement. Effective management of interpersonal conflict is important to ensure that the limited time and scarce resources available to schools are not absorbed in resolving destructive interpersonal conflicts. In most secondary schools, much of the principal’s time is spent addressing interpersonal conflicts among principals and staff. Most conflicts in schools are addressed by using traditional grievance procedures, which rather than removing the conditions that caused the conflict, without compromise, leaves one party feeling shafted. This procedure can severely affect the interpersonal relationships in schools.
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 & Hallinger 2002). 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.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria today, there exist basically a national system of education. Despite this, schools are diverse in their organizational structure with attendant emerging conflicts arising therefrom. To enhance goal achievement, school officials (Principal and teachers) operate on formal organizational structures which enable them in the performance of their institutional daily activities. In spite of these operational guidelines, school officials are observed to engage on diversified approaches on general school administration which invariably breeds conflicts. Nevertheless, the impact of these diversities in the management of these schools leads to certain conflicts arising within the administration as a result of nomothetic dimension which stresses institutional roles, rules, regulations and procedures for getting things done to achieve institutional goals; and the ideographic dimension, which stresses social interaction of individual’s need. Therefore, conflicts create serious administrative problems particularly in the school system, and need to be addressed, with a view to resolving them as they arises
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to assess the principal strategies in managing conflict in secondary schools, specifically the study intends to:
1. Find out the principal knowledge and skills in managing conflicts in secondary schools.
2. Examine strategies employed by principals in managing school conflicts
3. To assess the effectiveness of strategies used by principals in managing conflicts and challenges they face in applying the identified strategies for managing conflicts
4. To suggest measures that could be taken to avoid future conflicts in schools
1.4 Research Questions
1. Does the principal knowledge and skills in managing conflicts in secondary schools?
2. What are the strategies employed by principals in managing school conflicts?
3. 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?
4. What are the measures that could be taken to avoid future conflicts in schools?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: the strategies used by principals in managing conflicts are effective
Hi: the strategies used by principals in managing conflicts are not effective
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be significant in that the findings may be useful to education researchers, educational planners and other scholars of educational administration as it will hopefully increase their awareness of the values of conflict as well as conflict management methods which are constructive and benefit the school. The findings will principals and other education stakeholders to adopt measures to minimize conflicts. The results of the study will help policy makers and educational planners to make adequate adjustments that enhance performance in management and administration of secondary schools. The 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.
1.7 Scope of the Study
Four secondary schools will be selected for this research, two private and two public secondary schools in Alimosho LGA in Lagos state.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.
However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.