CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES IN NON-GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS


CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES IN NON-GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN BENUE STATE                                                                                                           ABSTRACT:          Conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state has become a thing of concern for scholars, administrators, parents, and researchers. This study was designed to investigate conflict resolution strategies in non-government secondary schools, in Benue state of Nigeria. The study was prompted by the series of conflicts among principals, teachers, proprietors, and students in non-government secondary schools in Benue State, which have dampened the morale of teachers and other workers and has affected their productivity. This study investigated perceived conflict resolution strategies for the resolution of conflicts in non-government secondary schools in Benue state. Six research questions and six hypotheses were formulated. The instrument used was conflict resolution strategies (CRS) questionnaire. This was used to collect data from 500 respondents comprising of principals, teachers, proprietors, and students and sampled from thirty (30) out of 200 non-government secondary schools in Benue State. A four-point scale of Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D), and Strongly Disagree (SD) were used for the ratings of the respondents, mean and standard deviation were used to answer the research questions while T-test analysis and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. Scheffe multiple comparison test was conducted to determine the direction of the difference. The major findings of the study are that unnecessary interference with the administration of the school by proprietors, arbitrary increase of school fees by the school management among others constitutes major sources of conflict. The findings also include among others, negative feelings created among staff and hostility towards rival group. There was no significant difference in the mean ratings on the sources of conflict, impact of conflict and conflict resolution strategies in non-government secondary schools, Benue state. Major implications of the findings, recommendations based on the implications and suggestions for further research were highlighted.Table of ContentsTitle Page            -                -            iApproval Page        -                -            iiCertification page        -                -            iiiDedication            -                -            ivAcknowledgements    -                -            vTable of Contents        -                -            viList of tables        -                -            ixAbstract            -                -            xi    CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION            -            1Background of the study        -            -            1Statement of the problem    -            -            9Purpose of the study        -            -            11Significance of the study        -            -            12Scope of the study            -            -            13Research Questions        -            -            14Hypotheses                -            -            15CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE        -            16Conceptual Framework        -            -            16Concept of conflict and conflict resolution         -            16Sources and type of conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state     -        -            18Interdepartmental conflict in non-government  secondary schools in Benue State    -            -        24Line-staff conflict in non-government    secondary schools in Benue State        -        -        -        26Role Conflict     in non-government secondary schools        in Benue State        -        -            -        28 Success ideology and equality ideology in non-government secondary schools in Benue State    -            -        30Vertical conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue State            -                -        29Impact of conflict in school administration in non-government secondary schools in Benue State    -            -        30Conflict resolution strategies     -                -        33Theoretical Framework        -                -        44Organizational theories         -                -        44Theories of conflict development    -            -        51Review of empirical studies         -            -        58Summary of literature review        -            -        63CHAPTER THREE:  RESEARCH METHODS             -        65Design of the study        -                -        65Area of the study            -                -        66Population of the study        -                -        66Sample and sampling technique    -            -        67Instrument for data collection        -            -        68Validation of the instrument         -            -        68Reliability of the instrument        -            -        69Administration of the instrument     -            -        70Method of data analysis            -            -        70CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS OF THE STUDY        -        72Research question one            -            -        72Research question two            -            -        74Research question three            -            -        77Research question four            -            -        79Research question five            -            -    81Research question six            -            -    84Hypotheses One                -            -    87Hypotheses Two                -            -    89Hypotheses Three                -            -    90Hypotheses four                -            -    92Hypotheses five                -            -    93Hypotheses six                -            -    96Summary of findings            -            -    112CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION, IMPLICATION AND RECOMMENDATION        -        117Discussion of result            -        -        117Conclusion        -            -        -        125The implication of the research findings     -        -        128Recommendations                -        -        131Limitation of the study            -        -        134Summary of the study            -        -        135Suggestion for further studies        -        -        136References            -        -        -        138    Appendix A: Letter of introduction to the respondents    -    146Appendix B: Conflict resolution strategies (CRS) Questionnaire    147Appendix C: Population of non-government secondaryschool principals, teachers, and students        -        154Appendix D: Benue State Educational Zones    -        155Appendix E: Non-government secondary schools in Benue Stateaccording to ownership        -        -            156Appendix F: Distribution of the sampled non-government secondary schools in Benue State according to Proprietorship    164Appendix G: Sample statistics    -        -            166Appendix H: Focus group discussion guide for teachers    -    167Appendix I: Focus group discussion guide for students    -    174Appendix J: Regulation on the functions of the boards of governors, PTA, and Principals        -        -    -    180Appendix K: Functions of the school teachers    -    -    194List of tablesTable 1:  Mean ratings on the perceived sources of conflict between principals and staff    -                -        72Table 2: Mean ratings on the perceived sources of conflict between principals and proprietors      -            -        75Table 3: Mean ratings on the perceived sources of conflict between staff and students     -                -        77Table 4: Mean ratings on the perceived sources of conflict between students and prefects     -            -        79Table 5: Mean ratings on the effect of conflict on school administration         -                    -        81Table 6: Mean ratings on the perceived conflict resolution strategies by principals, teachers, students, proprietors, and community members     -                     -        84Table 7: T-test analysis of responses of principals and staff    -    88Table 8: T-test analysis of responses of principals and proprietors     89Table 9: T-test analysis of responses of staff and students    -    91Table 10: T-test analysis of responses of students and prefects      92Table 11: Summary of analysis of variance (ANOVA) on mean ratings on the effect of conflict on school administration by principals, teachers, proprietors, and students        -        94Table 12: Summary of analysis of variance (ANOVA) on mean ratings on the resolution of conflict by principals, teachers, proprietors, students, and prefects     -            -        96Table 13: Scheffe multiple comparison test    on ANOVA    -    100Table 14:  Scheffe multiple comparison test    on ANOVA    -    102Table 15:  Scheffe multiple comparison test     on ANOVA    -    104    Table     16:  Scheffe multiple comparison test     on ANOVA    -    106Table 17:  Scheffe multiple comparison test     on ANOVA    -    108Table 18:  Scheffe multiple comparison test    on ANOVA    -    110Chart            -            -            -    197CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONBackground of the StudyEffective administration of the Nigerian secondary school system, to a large extent depends on a cordial and cooperate working relationship among principals, teachers, proprietors, prefects, students and community members. The harmonious working relationship, mutual implementation of decisions and peaceful academic environment will be jeopardized if the school and members of the school community are often in conflict (Abanyam, 2001).Carter (1992) conceptualized conflict as a painful or unhappy state of consciousness resulting from a clash or contest of incompatible desires, aims and drives which stems from the expression of fear and irritations resulting from the real or imagined threat to one group of people and its values by another groups. Best (2006 p.19) defined conflict as the pursuit of incompatible interests and goals by different groups. The researcher viewed conflict as a struggle over values or claims to status, power, and scarce resources in which the aims of the conflicting parties are not only to gain the desired value, but also to neutralize, injure or eliminate the rivals. Resolution is an act of finding a solution to a problem or a conflict. Conflict resolution strategy therefore is a method devised to develop peaceful means of amicably ending a state of conflict (Burton, 1990). Miller (2003) described conflict resolution strategy as a “variety of approaches arrived at terminating conflicts through the use of constructive ideas for solving of problems”. In this study, the concept of conflict resolution strategy is a situation where the parties to a conflict are mutually satisfied with the outcome of a settlement and the conflict is resolved in a true sense of it.  Defining a proprietor, Akosu (2006) maintained that a proprietor is known to be the owner of the school who is responsible for providing funds for the running of the school. A school proprietor is a person who has legal rights of possession of a school or an educational institution. In Benue Sate, school proprietorship is categorized into the mission, private, community, and government. The mission schools are those schools that are owned by the missionary bodies. These include the Roman Catholic Mission, the Methodist, the Anglican, the Nongo Kristu Sudan Kartric (NKST), the ECWA, and the Arabic schools. The private schools are schools owned by private individuals or groups, while community schools are those schools established by various communities in order to enhance educational developments in those areas. In this study, the researcher will focus on the mission, private, and community, which are referred to as non-government secondary schools in Benue state.On the 1st September 1984, the then military governor of Benue state (Rtd.) Brigadier John Atom Kpera announced the returning of non-government secondary schools to their original owners (Nigerian Voice, June 22, 1984). According to the Governor, the government had inadequate resources to finance education single handedly. “It became imperative for government to invite genuine individuals and organization to rescue education from total collapse in the public interest” (Onoja, 1984). The handover was marked with confusion, suspicion and suspense by principals, teachers, and even parents (Nwachukwu, 1983).The handover created a glaring case of dichotomy in the state educational system between non-government and government secondary schools in all ramifications up till today. There are differences in the appointment of principals, funding, academic standard, structural developments, and admission policy. This is the genesis of discontentment and dissatisfaction in non-government secondary schools especially as it concerns the working condition of service. The consequences of the state’s dual policy in education in Benue state is the arbitrary increase of school fees in non-government secondary schools, constant victimization and intimidation from the proprietors in collaboration with the PTA executives and lack of uniform education standard, (Onoja, 1984). By dual education system, Onoja pointed out that salaries of staff in non-government secondary schools will be paid by their proprietors except those approved by the state government. School fees and other levies will be collected by the principals and used as directed by the proprietors. This arrangement applies to all non-government secondary schools in the state. The government is the proprietor of only government schools. This is a unique arrangement different from what prevails in many states of the federation. It was the East Central State (ECS) government then that took the lead in taking over all private schools (Okolo, 2000). This takeover of schools by the ECS government in 1970 became a blue print for other states in the federation. A visit to non-government secondary schools in Benue state reveals the existence of conflict in the school system. Ugwu (1994) said that schools are centres of indiscipline, homes of secret cults, and avenue for the evolution and perpetuation of all types of crimes. Dare (1987) pointed out that the teacher is a facilitator and the key factor in ensuring effective teaching and learning in our schools but lamented that today many teachers are losing their conscience in the profession because of the incessant quarrels between principals, teachers, and students that are seen from time to time. Abenga (1995) observed that conflict in schools has become a phenomenon that needs some careful handling.Abanyam (2001) pointed out that the Boards of Governors as the governing or managing agents for the states school board in all non-government secondary schools are responsible for the overall welfare of the school. Capital projects initiated by the parents/Teachers Association shall be referred to the Board of Governors for its views before implementation. Similarly, any levy imposed on the platform of the parent/teachers’ association shall be referred to the board of governors for its views and approval, but some principals and proprietors prefer to work with the PTA rather than the board of governors because of fund generation. The PTA and the community are groups in school organization that generate fund required for solving the urgent needs of the school. As such, principals seek closer cooperation with the group capable of generating fund rather than the group they consider as a rubber-stamp (Hammond, 1986). Because the board of governors are constituted as monitoring agent, some principals prefer to keep them out of the school system (by not inviting the board members to meetings even after the instruction by the chairman of the boards of governors) so that they may not question financial transactions. Conflicts arise when the board of governors insists on performing their statutory functions. Currently in most of the community and private schools in Benue state, the PTA without clearance from the boards of governors execute capital projects, such as building school halls, new classroom block. Yet, many of these projects executed by the PTA are hardly completed by the PTA because of confusion (Nwachukwu, 1987). This leads to conflict, as the board of governors tends to question the authorization of such uncompleted projects going on in the school. This especially, the case where there is need for more classrooms, library, laboratory, etc required for west; African School Certificate Examination approval for Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). Furthermore, conflict arises when the community questions the PTA’s encroachment on the project embarked by them (Okolo, 2000). Lack of cooperation among the organs responsible for school administration may therefore result into conflict thereby destabilizing the school organization. Several conflicts in non-government secondary schools in the state have been reported to TSB for intervention and necessary action. Some of the examples of such conflicts included: -1)    The Itabono Community clash over the appointment of principal in 2005, which paralyzed both the staff and students of Itabono community secondary school, Itabono, Owukpa in Ogbadibo local government. The staffs of the school were divided into two, one group supporting a candidate from Ai-Ede clan, another supporting the chairman boards of governors’ candidate. During the crisis, internal and external examinations were disturbed. The West African Examination Council (WACE) and National Examination Council (NECO) were held on neutral ground at Egbi Memorial Secondary School, Ukwo-Owukpa. Circulars, directives were duplicated. The case was resolved through the intervention of the executive secretary from the Teaching Service Board (TSB). 2)    Another type of conflict reported to the Board involved the principal and some teachers who were accused of making life difficult for the principal of NKST Secondary School Jato-Aka in Kwande local government in 2003. The teachers became uncontrollable and they further instigated the students against the school rules and constituted authority. The TSB set up a committee to investigate the case as the matter was above the disciplinary committee of the school and the board of governors of that school was not functional. The committee came out with a recommendation that the teachers involved be transferred to far places as a deterrent to others.3)    Another type of conflict reported to the board involved the principal and some students of Padopads Harmony Secondary School, Makurdi, which led to the burning of one of the teacher’s house to ashes in 1996. The teacher was said to have mercilessly beaten one of the final year students in the school. In a counter reaction, almost all the final year students marched to his house; on discovering that he was not at home they set his house on fire. At the end, the Board intervened, the students who were the ring leaders, were expelled, others were suspended and the teacher was transferred from the school. In addition, the entire students were surcharged and paid some levies to rebuild the house. 4)    Another type of conflict reported to the Board involved the principal of Ogiri Oko Memorial Secondary School, Makurdi in 2005. The principal collected the games fees amounting to thousands of money, which was meant to be sent to the Teaching Service Board, but she diverted the money to her private use but claimed before the proprietor that she has been remitting the money to the Board. The proprietor eventually discovered the truth and with the recommendation of the proprietor, the principal was dismissed from office by the Board.Source: Benue State Teaching Service Board (BSTSB), Planning, Research and Statistics Section, Makurdi, 2007.  The public are therefore worried about the sources of conflict, which have resulted in inefficient functioning of the educational organs charged with secondary school administration in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.There is general feeling of dissatisfaction and disgust over what goes on in the school organizations (Uzoamaka, 2000). Reasons have been speculated as to the sources of the conflict. Some feel it may be due to role ambiguity emanating from lack of proper description of the duties of the principals and principal officers in the school organization, (Anijah, 1988). Others see it as a personality clash and power tussle between principals and teachers on one hand,, and the prefects and students, while some others view it as an over centralization of power among some organs of education (Egonu, 1983). Some others see it as a clash of interests among powers that be in the system (Onubogu, 1985). Following these reasons, Fafunwa (1982) and Ashu-Egbe (1993) asserted that when conflicts arise among groups participating in the schools system, the school becomes a battle field for all involved to exert their rights, finding strategies to resolve such conflicts  becomes imperative.Statement of the ProblemThe returning of non-government secondary schools in Benue state to their original owners in 1984 was because government had inadequate resources to finance education single handedly. With the increasing enrolment in schools, it was difficult for the government alone to provide classrooms, residential accommodation for teachers, and other amenities needed in the school (Ukeje, 1986). The government, therefore, invited genuine individuals and organizations in the management of education. However, the interaction among the school owners and various organs of education in the interpretation, implementation/execution of educational polices seems to create doubts in people’s minds as to whether they are living up to expectations. Indeed, the relationships between these agencies have led to confusion and conflicts in those schools (Emeano, 1990).The school owners seem to be working at cross purposes, which tend to negate positive expectation behind their creation. For instance, constant victimization and intimidation from the proprietors in collaboration with the PTA executives, arbitrary increase of school fees and lack of uniform education standard; there are also several other allegations and counter-allegations of functional interference by one organ of education in the functions of the other. However, there has been tremendous amount of research directed towards the causes of conflict in secondary school system (Okolo, 2000, Abanyam, 2001, Uzoamaka, 2000, Denga, 1982, Onubogu, 1985). Never the less, most existing literature and research tend to focus on the effects of these causes on principal’s effectiveness and students’ performance but little is known on the sources of conflict and its effects on the administration and management of non-government secondary schools in Benue state. The consequences of conflicts in school organization are obvious. The existing strategies such as the school disciplinary committees and the board of governors are no longer sufficient to resolve these conflicts, therefore there is need to find ways of resolving conflicts among principals, teachers, proprietors and students in these non-government secondary schools in the state. The question then arises: what conflict resolution strategies should be employed to resolve these conflicts for efficient and better goal achievement?Purpose of the Study The main purpose of this study was to investigate conflict resolution strategies to be used in resolving conflicts in non-government secondary schools in Benue state, Nigeria.Specifically the study attempts to: 1)    Investigate the sources of conflict between principals and teachers in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.2)    Investigate the sources of conflict between principals and proprietors in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.3)    Investigate the sources of conflict between teachers and students in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.4)    Investigate the sources of conflict between students and prefects in non-government secondary schools in Benue state. 5)    Determine the effect of conflicts on school administration in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.6)    Find out conflict resolution strategies that can be adopted in resolving conflicts in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.Significance of the StudyThe study is significant in several ways. With the knowledge of the findings, the principals will be able to identify sources of conflicts in Non-government secondary schools in Benue state and ensure that such conflicts are effectively resolved through intensive motivational techniques, open door administration, and participatory governance. The finding of this study also will enable both the principals and teachers to be cautious of the causes of conflict. This will promote proper understanding, thus enhancing cooperation among them. The findings will help school management to employ conflict resolution strategies in resolving conflicts. This is because principals and teachers are employed to promote academic excellence and this can only be achieved in the atmosphere of peace and orderliness. The study will enable the proprietors of schools to ensure they have effective disciplinary committees and functional board of governors in all their schools. This will enhance effective dispensation of justice, which will be to the interest of both the school and the community. The knowledge of the findings will enable the proprietors of schools to avoid arbitrary increase of school fees and other levies, which will lead to conflict that will jeopardize social and academic excellence of the children in particular and the community in general.The findings will enable the board of governors to follow the regulations on their functions and meetings very strictly. This will help them serve as a proper link between the school and the community for visible development.  Furthermore, it will help the board of governors to give accurate feedback to the government on their observation and hence protect the image of the school and the community for social and academic growth. The findings will be of great benefit to the students, teachers, principals, and proprietors. For instance, situation of labour unrest will be avoided or minimized in the state. Under such situation, teachers will be adequately motivated due to the recommendation of the appropriate reward as to elicit their social commitment in their job while the students who are the recipients will also benefit academically. Finally, conflict resolution strategies mapped out of the study will serve as a working guide for resolving conflict within and outside the school organization. This will help to inculcate values and norms necessary for socialization. For example, resolved conflicts are monitored to ensure that conflict does not reoccur. In addition, the data for the study will add to other available data in this area of the study for further study, in other states of Nigeria.Scope of the StudyThis study is focused on investigating conflict resolution strategies in non-government secondary schools in Benue state, Nigeria. It is limited to three proprietary schools in the state, which includes, the mission, the community, and private schools.The content area covered sources of conflict among staff, principals, proprietors, and students in non-government secondary schools, effect of conflict on school administration, and how these conflicts could be effectively resolved.Research QuestionsThe following research questions were formulated to guide this study:1)    What are the sources of conflict between principals and teachers in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?2)    What are the sources of conflict between principals and proprietors in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?3)    What are the sources of conflict between teachers and students in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?4)    What are the sources of conflict between prefects and students in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?5)    What is the effect of conflict on school administration in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?6)    What conflict resolution strategies can be adopted in non-government secondary schools in Benue state?HypothesesThe following hypotheses, which guided the study were formulated and tested at the 0.05 level of significance.1)    There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals and teachers on sources of conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.2)    There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals and proprietors on sources of conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.3)    There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of teachers and students on sources of conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.4)    There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of prefects and students on sources of conflict in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.5)    There is no significant difference among the mean ratings of principals, teachers, proprietors, and students on the effect of conflicts on school administration in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.6)    There is no significant difference among the mean ratings of principals, teachers, proprietors, and students on their conflict resolution strategies in non-government secondary schools in Benue state.

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CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES IN NON-GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS



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