EFFECTIVE PRACTICES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOL PLANT IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA
Background of the Study
The role of principals in the management of secondary schools is vital for the realization of educational goals since principal are involved in the implementation of educational policies and programmes. One of the primary functions of secondary school principals, according to Idoko (2005), is management and maintenance of school plant.
School plant, according to Agbonye (2006), is the same thing as physical facilities. Emenalo (2007) explains that school plant is the entire scope of physical infrastructural facilities which are provided in the school for the school for the purpose of educating the child. Asiabaka (2008) postulates that school plant consist of all types of buildings, areas for sports and games, landscape, farms and gardens including trees and paths. Others include furniture and toilet facilities, storage facilities, transportation, Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T.), food services among others.
The above facilities play vital role in the actualization of educational goals and objectives by satisfying the physical and emotional needs of students and teachers of the school. Their availability, adequacy and relevance influence efficiency and high productivity. It has always been realized that school plant is very important in the development of education in Nigeria.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in her National Policy on Education too pays considerable attention to the importance of the provision of school plant. She states in the document that provision and subsequent expansion will be made for vocational equipment and other facilities. Senior secondary schools are to have properly equipped workshops. In addition, provision for health centres in all educational institutions to cater for the children would be made.
School plant is very vital for the success of educational endeavour. When available and skillfully used, they make learning more meaningful. School plant provides experiences which stimulate self-activities on the part of the learner and these help to concretize the ideas and save the teacher from talk and chalk method. School plant is also essential for effective teaching and learning of every subject. It should be noted that, for school plant to be functional, they require proper planning, usage and maintenance for greater efficiency by the school administrators and the Secondary Education Management Board. For this reason, there has been a global concern for management of school plant in secondary schools by school administrators, parents and teachers.
Achinine (1998) points out that one of the most important functions of secondary school administration in Nigeria is efficient management of school plant. In other words, the achievement of set goals and objectives depends on the ability of the school manager to make use of and maintain the physical facilities in the school. Management, according to Peretomode (2001), is the social or interactional process involving planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling or leading in order to use available resources to achieve a desired outcome in the fastest and most efficient way. Management of school plant, according to Onwurah (2004) includes procurement and maintenance of school facilities for effective teaching and learning.
For the effective management of school plant in secondary schools, the school administrator needs to ensure that the school plant is properly maintained and utilized for the actualization of the educational goals. According to Idoko (2005), the principal is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the necessary facilities or materials needed for effective and efficient teaching and learning are provided and maintained as this will prevent a repeat occurrence of infrastructural decay. The school administrator also makes sure that, the general appearance of the surrounding and condition of facilities in the school are well kept for this serves as an indicator for judgment about the quality of academic activities that go on in the school. Emenalor (2007) argues that, the construction of new buildings, and additions to existing ones are not the management of school plant, rather it involves the continuing operation and maintenance of the school plant. Therefore, it is the duty of the school administrator to harness all it takes to maintain the school plant as this will contribute a lot to its lasting effect. School plant maintenance means safeguarding and regular repair and supervision of school facilities. It implies maintaining the environment to make sure that it is clean, beautiful and safe for the activities that go on in the school. It is therefore a major and sensitive aspect of school administration.
However, most secondary schools in Nigeria and South – East in particular are in a state of disrepair. The state of physical facilities in secondary schools is in a deplorable condition. Bamide (2002) asserts that, there are broken, decayed and battered facilities in our schools which may not be as a result of old age but simply out of neglect. This statement is in agreement with Emenalo (2007), who maintains that, the poor condition of some school plant especially school buildings in secondary schools today is not as a result of old age per say but out of neglect. Today, it is a common phenomenon in secondary schools to see dilapidated buildings, broken chairs etc.
Most public secondary schools in the South-East look like abandoned construction site. There is hardly a public secondary school in the area that does not have blown-off building, just as most of them cannot boast of well-equipped laboratories. The classrooms are full of pot-holes due to licking roofs, just as most of the classrooms do not have doors and windows. In some of the schools the teachers stay under the tree in place of staff room because what is called staff room does not differ from a waste store. In most of the schools the sports fields are thorough fare because the official thorough fares are impassable due to damage by erosion. The situation neither motivates the teacher nor the students and this affects the teaching and learning process adversely.
Commenting on the state of physical facilities in secondary school in the South-East state, Achinine (1998) points out that Federal Government needs to give attention to schools in South-East because of the destructive effects of the Nigerian civil war. She observed that most of the buildings repaired after the wars are due for further renovation due to aging of the structures. However, Onyejemezie (2002) comments that, both the State and Federal Government through various schemes like Petroleum Trust Fund [PTF] and Education Trust Fund [ETF] have invested to ensure the improvement of the quantity and quality of physical plant in the schools and pleaded that more should be done to save these schools from the state of disrepair. The few existing ones appear not to be receiving due attention from school administrators hence their poor state. The school administrators appear to lack the necessary skills to pay due attention to school plant. Their attention most often appear to be on financial management from where they could put some money into their pocket through embezzlement and other illegal means like illegal levies, increasing external examination fees, awarding inflated contracts, among others.
Asiabaka (2008) maintains that, an aspect of school management that is generally over looked is facilities management. She argues that, when new buildings are constructed and taken over by the appropriate authorities, practically, no attention is paid to the management of such buildings, several school buildings that are over thirty years old have never undergone renovation or any form of modernization in spite of the changes in the educational system. It is pertinent to note that, school plant management is an issue that concerns all levels of educational system. Some of these facilities according to Etuk (2007) are architecturally obsolete and therefore cannot contribute to functional education and maintaining the new buildings, renovating and modernizing the old ones require considerable expertise and commitment of human and material resources which the secondary school administrators cannot cope due to poor funding of schools by the government.
Ukeje cited in Agbonye (2006) asserts that, the responsibilities of Secondary Education Management Boards include direct control and management of post primary schools on all matters of policy, theories and practice of education. The foregoing shows that, the administrative staffs of Secondary Education Management Boards as stakeholders in school direct the principals of secondary schools towards effective management of school plant. The question is how knowledgeable are administrative staff of Secondary Education Management Board on facilities maintenance planning so as to properly direct the principals?
This question is answered by Bamide (2002) who reported that, some managers and teachers who constantly use school facilities lack knowledge of facilities maintenance planning as this maintenance is haphazardly addressed in our secondary schools. Repairs take place in most cases only when problems arise due to total breakdown of existing facilities. The facility maintenance plan as listed by Asiabaka (2008) – preventive, routine, emergency repairs and predictive maintenance have been adopted by some school administrators for several years, yet school plant decay has been on the increase and no effective practices have been generally adopted in the management of school plant in secondary schools. This therefore underscores the need to investigate into effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools in South-East Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem
School plant constitutes important resources for the implementation of educational programme in Nigeria. Its place in the teaching process cannot be over emphasized, for instance, classroom constitute a common ground for sharing learning experiences and for trying out research findings. Play grounds are places for recreation and sports while instructional materials such as teaching aids generally, are facilitators of the teaching learning process.
Despite the above importance of these physical facilities, evidence abound which seems to suggest that there are ineffectiveness in the management of school plant in secondary schools particularly in South –Eastern states of Nigeria. The school administrators appear to pay less attention to school plant management as one of the task areas of school administration. It appears that principals do not motivate teachers and students adequately because they appear to treat the provision of infrastructural facilities like conducive classrooms, comfortable staff rooms, libraries, laboratories and workshop with levity. This affects the productivity of the teachers and the achievement of the students. These ineffectiveness according to Idoko (2005) are in the form of washed off paints, falling ceiling and roof tops that have suffered from heavy rainfall. Noticeable also are cracked dilapidated decaying walls, sagging roofs, broken doors, windows and bushy surroundings as common phenomena in secondary schools in South- Eastern states. Most schools have no doors or window shutters to protect students against hash whether conditions. The classrooms are overcrowded which do not allow for personal attention of students by the teachers. Some secondary schools have no laboratories and even the schools that have are not provided with the relevant materials and equipment for learning activities that the students can be engaged in. In the light of the above, the problem of the study stated in question form is therefore as follows: What are the effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools in south-east states Nigeria?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to investigate the effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools in South-Eastern states of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:
1. Identify the effective practices for the planning of school buildings in secondary schools in South-East states.
2. Find out effective practices in the procurement of secondary school building materials in South-Eastern states.
3. Find out the effective practices through which school buildings are utilized in secondary schools in South-Eastern states.
4. Identify the effective methods of maintaining secondary school buildings in South-Eastern states.
5. Find out effective inspection practices for secondary school buildings in South- Eastern states.
6. Identify effective ways through which school principals could enforce rules and regulations for securing school buildings in secondary schools in South-Eastern states.
Significance of the Study
The importance of effective management of school plant cannot be overemphasized.
Effective management of school plant has a direct bearing on the development process not only in school but on the whole economy in the state. Well-articulated goals of secondary education in Nigeria cannot be achieved without effective planning, procurement, utilization, and management of school plant. The findings of this study will be useful to educational administrators, Secondary Education Management Board, teachers, students, principals of secondary schools and the community.
When there are effective practices for the planning of secondary school buildings, it will lead to the optimum use of available resources which will reduce cost and will result in effective use of land spaces. On the other hand, such effective planning whether it is long or short term planning will enhance effective performance of principals and their teachers and community will have some of their resources plowed into other important development ventures.
In the same vein, the findings on effective practices in the procurement of building materials will be of immense benefit to the teachers, students and P.T.A as such will reduce cost and save the parents the ordeal of regular contribution. The teachers and students will benefit because, these materials will be procured based on the actual needs at reduced cost, cost effectiveness thus, leaving the school with resources for instructional materials etc.
The findings of the study based on utilization of school buildings will benefit principals as it will x-ray their skills, expose areas they are not doing well so that in-service training could be organized to help them acquire more skills in school building. This will ensure that school buildings are utilized optimally for the purpose they are meant for.
The outcome of the study based on maintenance of school buildings will benefit the principal, students, parents and the community at large. Regular maintenance will benefit principal as it will prevent decay and the dilapidation of these buildings, speak volumes about the principal’s management skills, students will be happy learning in a good environment, teachers work environment will be improved and they will be motivated to do more while the community will utilize the resources that would have been used to erect new buildings to other development needs of the community.
This work will also benefit Management Boards as it affects inspection of school buildings. The findings will serve as a yardstick with which State Education Management Board (SEMB) can categorize and know the skills of the principals that are overseeing the affairs of the secondary schools in South-East states. Principals that are not doing well in this aspect will see the need and reason from the findings of this work to regularly inspect their school buildings, and this will prolong the life of these buildings, thus, leading to effective teaching and learning in these schools.
More importantly, establishing ways through which principals could make rules and regulations for securing school buildings will benefit principals, teachers, students, communities and school boards as that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of principals as their skills will be enhanced, teachers, students and communities will be properly guided as they will know their limitations, boundaries, make effective use of these buildings and become law abiding citizens. The school boards will benefit as these rules and regulations could be adopted and disseminated to all schools to serve as a policy to secure the use of school buildings.
Scope of the Study
The study is delimited to effective practices in the management of secondary school buildings in South-Eastern states. The content area is restricted to the following: planning of secondary school buildings, procurement of building materials, utilization of secondary school buildings, maintenance of secondary school buildings, inspection of secondary school buildings and making of rules and regulations based on school buildings. The study focuses on public secondary schools in South-Eastern states.
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the effective practices in the planning of secondary school buildings in South-Eastern States?
2. What are the effective practices in the procurement of secondary school building materials in South-Eastern States?
3. What are the effective practices principals should apply in the utilization of secondary school buildings in South-Eastern States?
4. What are the effective practices principals should use in maintaining secondary school buildings in South-East states?
5. What are the effective practices principal should use in inspecting secondary school buildings in South East States?
6. What enforcement strategies should principals apply to secure secondary school buildings in South-Eastern states?
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
1. There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals of secondary schools and administrative staff of school boards in South-Eastern states on the effective practices for planning of secondary school buildings.
2. There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals of secondary schools and administrative staff of school boards in South-Eastern states on the effective practices in the procurement of building materials.
3. There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals of secondary schools and administrative staff of school boards in South-Eastern states on effective practices principals should apply in the utilization of secondary school buildings.
4. There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals of secondary schools and administrative staffs of school board in South-Eastern states on the effective practices which the principals should apply in maintaining secondary school buildings in South Eastern states.
5. There are no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals of secondary schools and administrative staff of school boards in South Eastern.