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1.1            Background of the Study

Several public secondary schools are established to provide secondary education to children before they proceed to the tertiary institutions. The two broad aims of this level of education are to prepare individuals for further studies and for useful living within the society (FRN 2004). The administration of this level of education is carried out by the principals (administrators) side by side teachers and non teachers, parents, Board of Governors, the community and all other relevant agencies responsible for the dispensation of formal education in the state.

The Principal (administrator) sees to the effective running of secondary schools in terms of staff and students’ management, development and implementation of educational programmes, management of physical facilities, school community relations, discipline, keeping of school records, management of school finance and creation of convenient environment for effective teaching and learning. It is also generally observed that a lot of public schools have ignored Christian Religious Knowledge. They believe that only science and technology students are capable of bringing about development in the country. Some students also believe that Christian Religious Knowledge is not relevant to the present need of the society. That is why moral and religious values decline so fast in public secondary schools in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. As a result of such deficiency, lack of respect for elders and cases of students’ riot at an increased level are the possible consequences. Christian Religious Knowledge is therefore seen as a veritable tool and a suitable vehicle to convey morals and qualities of good cititzenry into the student’s life. Unfavourable attitude of students in Ibesikpo Asutan constitutes a problem which has not only affected the society but also the performance of students in the subject.

The study has exposed the researcher to observe many students during his teaching practice in some public secondary schools in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. He witnessed many senior secondary two students who showed lack of interest in the study of Christian Religious Knowledge. Those who actually offered the subject refuse to attend regular classes own the recommended textbook and the Holy Bible and exhibited negative tendency in applying the moral principles to their daily living. Some of the students performed so poorly in their internal and external examinations. The basic area of the researcher’s concern which calls for investigation is how Principals’ administrative skills can improve students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge in Public Secondary Schools in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.

Ross and Gray (2006) found transformative leadership skill to be necessary for school effectiveness. According to the researcher’s, transformative skill is a global skill comprising three skills: the principals being able to identify and sustain a vision of the school which is interpreted as conceptual skills by other researchers; intellectual stimulation of other members of the school which can be done by a person who knows the educational process of a school, using a combination of the technical and interpersonal skills; and individual consideration for others, the interpersonal or human skill. The use of these skills was discovered to enhance school effectiveness by increasing teacher commitment and motivating them to achieve school goals.

Also in South Carolina, Kochamba and Murray, (2008) in their study on critical administrative skills needed by Principals for the achievement of school effectiveness found technical, human relations, conceptual and transformative leadership skill critical for the achievement of school effectiveness.

Richter, Lewis and Hagar (2012) found transformational managerial and behaviour management skills to be essential ingredients which Principals need for the achievement of school goals. In a related study on effective schools in developing countries, Hoppey and Mcleskey, (2013) discovered that the principal who had interpersonal skill; viewed his primary role as that of providing support for his teachers so they could put in their very best to teaching in order to achieve the school goals. The study was hinged on the path goal theory of leadership by House, (1971) which postulates that for leaders to be effective, they must have the ability to clarify the path to successful achievement of goals for followers; they must also be able to remove obstacles on the path in order to achieve organizational goals for the followers. The principal must have these necessary skills to know when there are obstacles, what to do and how to do it.

Mumford, Zaccarro, Harding, Jacobs and Fleishman, (2000) proposed a five component skill based model of effective leadership which had problem solving skills, social judgment skills and knowledge skills at the core of its components. Hoy and Miskel, (2000) ascertained technical, interpersonal, conceptual and administrative skills as skills that the principal as the school leader should possess for the success of the school. Peterson and Van Fleet, (2004) suggested ten categories of skills essential for effectiveness. They were technical, analytical, decision making, human, communication, and interpersonal, conceptual, diagnostic, flexible and administrative skills. Mumford, Campion and Morgeson (2007), identified four general categories: cognitive, interpersonal, business and strategic skills. Another set of researchers, Leithwood and Duke, (1999); Murphy and Louis, (1999) and Richter, (2006), were of the opinion that leadership skills are divided into three domains: transformational, managerial and instructional. The various sets of researchers found differing categories of leadership skills which were not all related to be essential for the academic performance of students in public secondary schools.

According to Pfifner in Njoku (2006), principals as administrators have the duty to organize and direct human and material resources to achieve desired ends. To be a school administrator, one needs the requisite skills. Generally, many studies (Adelabu and Akinwumi, 2008; Arong & Ogbadu, 2010; Duze, 2011; Sofowora, 2011) have been carried out on the failing standard and quality of education in Nigeria but very little research work has been carried out on the skills possessed by the Principals of Nigerian Public Secondary Schools. This study seeks to discover how Principal’s administrative skills affect students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge. It is observed in recent times that Principal’s effectiveness in secondary school dwindles. This is deduced from several reports of absenteeism, lateness to school and nonchalant attitude (Akpan, 1995). This is further manifested in students’ poor academic performance in internal and external examinations.

The attainment of school goals could be possible through a functional communication pattern. Musaazi, (1982) sees communication as a two-way process. Communication is purposive for interpretation of school policies and institutions. Its primary administrative function are informing, instituting or directing someone, evaluating someone or something and influencing another’s thought or behaviour. When the following take place, it is believed that communication is effective. Ineffective communication leads to misinformation which results in misinterpretation and perhaps failure in principal’s effectiveness and realization of school goals. Akpan, (1995) reported that a functional communication pattern provides information in the school administration between the principal (administrator), teachers and students concerning all aspects of the school, involving problem solving, decision making and conflict management among other things in the school.

Principal’s administrative skills are crucial in ensuring academic performance of students in Christian Religious Knowledge. The poor academic performance of Akwa Ibom State Secondary School Students in external examinations casts doubts on the possession of Administrative skills by their Principals. The study formulated research questions and research hypotheses in order to understand the significant difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on communication pattern, interpersonal relationship, supervision standard of school principal.

Academic performance of a school is the extent to which set goals or objectives of a school programme are accomplished. A school would be regarded as effective if school processes result in observable positive outcomes among its students consistently over a period of time” (1yer, 2011, p.4). The parameters for measuring the effectiveness of a secondary school include the level of discipline tone of the school, school climate, teachers’ performance and the number of students who successfully pass their school leaving certificate examinations. (Purkey and Smith, 1983; Hargreaves, 1995; Uline, Miller & Tschannen – Moran, 1998; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli & Pickeral  , 2009).

It is also important to note  that good interpersonal relationship occur in the school. Marry Parker; (1868-1933) believed that the fundamental problem in all organizations was in developing and maintaining dynamic and harmonious relationship. Mayo, also contributed that “much can be gained by carrying greater personal consideration to the low level of employees (Enaohwo and Eferakeya , 1989 in EDAP 701). He stressed the need of the individual in an organization. He emphasized the importance of acquiring social skills that will enable a person to get along with one another. Administrators work with and through people in order to accomplish the purposes of the school and therefore be willing to devote their time and energy to the development of the school, by habitual giving value to the opinion of teachers and students as well as their feelings on matters which affect them.

Supervision standards of the principal matters as well. According to Penninah, (2012) in his research, sees supervision of instruction as instructional behaviour system formally provided by the organization for the purpose of interaction with the teaching behaviour system in such a way to maintain change and improve the provision and actualization of learning opportunity for students. Lack of supervision may bring down the effectiveness and academic performance of students. Ntukidem and Etudor, enjoined that the success or failure of any school depends largely on teachers who are actors playing major roles in the classroom, in the school and in the society. Evidences supporting this observation include: Johnson, who found out that ‘‘adolescents have a significantly less favorable performance level to Religious study than younger children’’. Also Rickmonds, in his article maturity of religious performance between ages 13-16 claimed that “studies of adolescents consider religion as irrelevant to the needs of modern man.’’ This is also reflected in their choice of school subjects. Ndem, Udo and Joseph, commented on the three domains of learning which is very important in all learning situation which should be consciously planned for, as measurement and evaluation depend to a great extent in the educational objectives on the three domains, categories or taxanomy of educational objectives. These learning domains are known as cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning.(Penninah, 2012).

A public school administrator has some basic skills when applied in the school system would improve the performance of students in Christian Religious Knowledge. Katz, (1955) the first researcher to propose the skill approach to leadership discovered that effective leadership depends on three basic skills namely: technical, human and conceptual skills. In his suggestion, the three basic skills are essential to the successful administration of the school.

It is also the principal’s duty to ensure that functional strategies and ways of promoting school community relations are put in place to provide an opportunity for communication between the school and the members of the community. Musaazi, (1982) asserts that the school can be viewed from two angles. It is a model of the community, and it is also the community’s school. From both angles, the school has broader functions that bring into close connections. The school definitely needs to be in close relationship with the community because of the moral, financial and material support, which the community gives to the school. Thus the community’s participation in school affairs makes the line between school and community more meaningful, therefore the school and the community regard each other as partners.

From the above deductions, therefore this study aimed at examining the principal’s Administrative skills in public secondary schools and students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge.

1.2 Statement of Problem

It has been observed that public secondary school students’ performance in Christian Religious Knowledge in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State has been below average.

West African Examination Council’s report of 2010 recorded the worst result. According to the online information retrieved “62,295 out of 310,077 managed to obtained credits in English and Mathematics. A total of 247,782 candidates representing 79.6% flanked the examination; as a result they failed to meet the minimum entry requirement into the Nigeria universities. This fluctuation has occurred for a period of three years interval.’’

Recent research (United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2000), Awwalu & Yusuf, (2012) on secondary education in Nigeria has shown that there is an enduring deterioration in the quality and efficiency of secondary school education delivery in Nigeria. May/June West African Examination Council (WAEC) results for the whole country showed that 30.99% out of 1,540,250 and 38.8% of 1,695,878 candidates that wrote the examination in 2011/2012 school year obtained five credit grades including English and Mathematics (Uwadiae 2011; Uwadiae, 2012). As a result of such poor performance of secondary school students in external examinations, principals were indicted by the Minister of Education (Oyebade, 2010). Some state governments even went as far as querying the principals in their states over the poor examination results returned by their schools (Oyebade, 2010). This allegation by public school principals might have been spurred by research evidence shown by Principal’s Administrative Skills to be the peak in its impact on Students’ Academic Performance.

It is therefore the application of these administrative skills with quality measurement, supervision and rules standard, the balance of communication pattern, interpersonal relationship and supervision standard that would help to determine the academic performance of students in Christian Religious Knowledge.

The researcher also in his visit to public schools in Ibesikpo Asutan to see how Christian Religious Knowledge is ranked discovered that the subject is ranked usually at the bottom. Those who offer the subject have been regarded as children of the clergy. As the researcher observed most of the students from S S1 to S S3, they exhibited lack of interest towards the subject. The researcher during his twelve weeks teaching practice experienced that some students who reluctantly offer the subject refused to own the basic textbook/notebook and the Holy Bible. Others do sneak out of the class in the pretext of having other engagements. These culminated to their poor performance in the promotions and certificate examinations. Hence this study calls for investigation on how principals’ administrative skills can improve students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge in Public Secondary Schools in Ibeskpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to examine the Principals’ Administrative Skills and Students’ Academic Performance in Christian Religious Knowledge in Public Secondary Schools in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Specifically, the study sought to:

1.     determine the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on communication pattern of the school principal.

2.     examine the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on interpersonal relationship of the school principal.

3.     ascertain the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on supervision standards of the school principal.

4.     assess the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on principals’ school community relations.

1.4   Significance of the Study

The Ministry of Education and Curriculum Developers would use this study to improve the quality and techniques of Christian Religious Knowledge in curriculum development.

School principals’ performance would be measured based on communication, interpersonal relationship, supervision standards and school community relations.

Students deciding on their future goals as lawyers or Christian Religious Knowledge professional teachers would modify their moral and spiritual life by the impact of this study.

Teachers who involve in career guidance and counseling would also use information in this study to determine appropriate methods and instructional materials for Christian Religious Knowledge.

The study would spur up and encourage the pursuit of further research in Christian Religious Knowledge on effective classroom management and instructional materials for the subject. 

Parents would also benefit to encourage their wards to study the subject for their moral and educational upliftment, instead of being prejudiced against the teaching of the subject.

1.5   Research Questions 

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

1.     What is the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on communication pattern of the school principal?

2.     What is the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on interpersonal relationship of the school principal?

3.      What is the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on supervision standards of the school principal?

4.     What is the difference in students’ academic performance in Christian Religious Knowledge based on principal’s school community relations?

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