Manging conflicts has become a serious issue gloablly and promting school leaders to be proactive in this domain of their adminstrative tasks is deemd a step in the right direction. The study sought to find out how Head teachers are dealing with conflict issues as they emerge in their day to day administrative duties. In all ten (10) Head teachers, one hundred (100) Teachers and nine (9) Circuit Supervisors took part in the study. Questionnaires, interviews, and observations were instruments used for data collection. The studies showed that majority of primary school Head teachers have not received orientation on conflict management since their appointment into office. In addition, most Head teachers saw conflict situations as opportunities for growth and self-development, however, they held to the view that it should not be entertained in schools.
Further findings pointed to the fact that Head teachers seems to lacked knowledge on conflict management issues in the academic and professional context, yet the perceived shortcomings have not adversely affected their practical conflict management activities in school. Based on the results of the study, it is proposed that; prior to their appointment Head teachers should be given orientation and training in conflict management; that issues of conflict management should be highlighted in the mainstream educational administration and leadership in schools. Finally, it is recommended that the Education Offices should conduct periodic survey on the state of interpersonal relations in schools and inject into the system the needed interventions where applicable.
Administrative tasks of Headteachers, Conflicts, Conflict Management, School organisation
The school is seen as a formal organisation. Musaazi (1984) described formal organisations as possessing deliberately structured line of action towards specific goals. According to Amofa (1999) and Agyeman (1986), members of formal organisation share common purposes, communicate intentions and actions willingly towards the attainment of collectively established goals, objectives, and aspirations. Asiedu-Akrofi (1978) illustrates this statement with the relationship exiting between the school buildings, pupils, teachers and educational officers and the goal of promoting teaching and learning in the schools for the survival of communities. He looked at the willingness of the community to allow the children to go to the school and the understanding teachers have to impart specific knowledge as evidence harmonised set of mutual and common aspirations. Reasoning alongside Musaazi on the subject-matter, Agyarey (as cited by Amofa 1999) named the determinants of a formal organisation as definite population, definite territory, authority structure, social network of relations, unique culture, clearly defined objectives and purposes of the organisation.
Literature Agyarey (as cited to by Amofa 1999) and Musaazi (1984) show that the school is a formal organisation. It has the characteristics of a formal organisation. In the school organisation Head teachers are Chief Executives, consequently, they occupy the top position of the school’s leadership structure. This signifies the authority they process over the teachers and pupils. By virtue of this authority, Head teachers are held accountable for the success or failure of the school. In order to make the school a success, Head teachers are expected to fulfil a number of administrative tasks, which serve as bases for measuring their efficiency and competence as school managers. Campbell, Bridges & Nystrand (1977) grouped the various administrative tasks of school heads under six headings, namely;
1. School-community relations,
2. Curriculum and instructions,
3. Pupil personnel,
4. Staff personnel,
5. Physical facilities,
6. Finance and business management.
In the view of Musaazi (1984) Head teachers have administrative tasks to perform and these include; interpreting policy, executing curriculum programmes, seeing to pupils welfare, equipment physical facilities and finances, inducting and retraining staff and finally maintaining effective school community relations (p 167). Musaazi further explained that Head teachers have the professional duty of promoting discipline and controlling behaviours in school to create the requisite congenial atmosphere for the attainment of educational goals - which is teaching and learning. It is in the latter that the bone of contention lies, even though earlier discourses on the subject-matter has established the school as a formal organisation, Agyeman (1986) appreciated the presence of informal activities in the formal organisation which are not directly related to the aspirations of the formal organisations, and in the case in the school organisation these informal organisations are capable of either enhancing or distorting the performance of the school’s programmes. Examples of such informal acts as cited by Agyeman (1986) include the following;
1. Individual modes of expression, activities, and disposition towards issues, patterns or acts and aspiration not in line with educational aspirations.
2. Non- conformity to defined goals, objectives, and aspirations of the school by individuals or groups in the school.
3. Development of cliques, attitude, and actions based on individual’s behaviour, needs and relevance of action, but not officially acceptably in the school system.
4. Disagreement, conflicts, and ragging amongst the human resources in the school.
Practically, educators and stakeholders in the educational industry are of the view that the key to successful leadership and administrative practices in schools are be linked to the ability of the Head teacher to set the human and material resources in the school into harmonious working relations.
According to Amuzu – Kpeglo (2002) Mary Parker Follet, a proponent of human relations paradigm of administration, is of the view that the basic problem of any institution is the developing and sustaining a dynamic and harmonious human relationship. Observing human activities in organisations it inference can be made that no organisation - be it simple or complex - can survive without conflict or disciplinary problems - the school is no exception in this context. Thus, where individuals and groups come together – as it is in the case of the school organisation, there is bound to be varying opinions, oppositions, anger, rage, murmuring and disagreements. Any environment with such divergent membership traits has the possibility of experiencing conflicts. It is apparent that wherever people gather, there is bound to be differences in ideas, values, standards, and levels of understanding, habits, and many other things. This goes to say that conflict will always exist whenever people interact with one another.
Some schools of thought hold to the view that conflicts are necessary in organisations and that they are inevitable for change, development and growth in organisations and should be entertained. Others however, are of the view that conflict is undesirable and disruptive, and must be resolved as soon as it surfaces in an organisation, that it is not to be entertained in any way. Human relations approach to conflict shows that conflict is a natural phenomenon and not to be seen as a negative force. Instead, it should be perceived as a positive force influencing the performance of individuals and groups. The traditionalist approach to conflict opposes views of the human relations approach in the context that conflicts are dysfunctional and negative – and perceived as abnormal, harmful, destructive, and useless. Contemporary stands on the subject- matter is advanced by Appleby (1994) who holds the view that conflicts are not only inevitable in organisations, but are absolutely expedient for stimulating development in individuals and groups, and that modern management practices reinforce the need for negotiation and communication amongst organisational members. Based on his stands on conflict issues, he advanced the notion that the task of managers should include the management of conflicts as their one of their administrative tasks and not to suppress them. Pondy (1992) appealing to research works on conflict issues asserted that conflicts are desirable and should be entertained and where applicable be used to simulate activities in organisations.
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- James Sunney Quaicoe (Author), 2010, Conflict Management Practices Of Basic School Headteachers In Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis In Ghana, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/295312