The Evaluation Of Principal’s Leadership Role In Public Secondary Schools In Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

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This study investigated principal’s leadership role in public secondary school in Akwa Ibom State. To accomplish this research purposes, six (6) research questions and six (6) null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Principals’ Administrative Effectiveness Questionnaire (PAEQ) for teachers was the instrument for data collection using the stratified random sampling technique, 200 principals and 400 teachers were selected from a population of 245 principals and 3254 teachers from 245 secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State, under the State Secondary Education Board (SSEB). The collected data was statistically tested using the One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The result shows that principals’ leadership role has a significant influence on classroom instruction, management, academic performance, maintain school discipline, involvement of staff in decision-making and professional growth. It was concluded that the principal owes the duty of ensuring that everything moves smoothly according to specification because anything that goes wrong in the various schools will be blamed on them. Some recommendations were made.




  • Background of the Study

The school principal is faced with the many tasks of administering his school. As an executive or administrator he maybe called to serve in various capacities. His overall responsibility for the administration of his school may be defined as the art and science of creatively integrating ideas, materials, and persons into an organic, harmonious working unit for the achievement of the objective of the institution. The principal should recognize that his most desirable goal is the development of worthy citizens for his community and for our nation.

Principals vary in their emphases upon different phases of school management. Lyndall Urwick and Luther H. Gulick (in Mbipom, 2000) developed ‘Fayols’ Elements’ into more articulated principles mnemonically expressed as ‘POSDCORB’, each letter representing one aspect of administrative behaviour.

  1. Planning: One of the duties of the chief executive is planning the activities aimed at fulfilling the anticipated goals of his organization. The definition of planning given by Urwick and Gulick goes beyond Fayol’s explanation to include the day-day function of outlining the activities needed to accomplish the purposes of the enterprise and assigning them to individuals. In school administration, this means that the school principal must prepare in advance a plan containing what teaching and administrative duties are involved in school posts, and the qualifications of the personnel required for them.
  2. Organizing: This includes the formal structural line of authority which defines what is to be done and by whom.
  3. Staffing: The principal must make arrangements for the regular supply of personnel, for staffing training, and for favourable conditions of service.
  4. Directing: He must provide effective leadership by making the right decisions.
  5. Coordinating: He must be able to coordinate the activities of the various units within his organization.
  6. Reporting: He should possess a thorough working knowledge of his organization through study, research, and inspection and disseminate the information thus obtained to his subordinates.
  7. Budgeting: He should be competent in fiscal management which includes financial planning, accounting and control.

Since the design and purpose of public and private school organization seem to demand an emphasis upon the personnel factor, the principal usually considers this the most significant function of his over-all administration. This phase of management of school focuses attention on the task of securing a competent school staff, assigning them to duty posts within the school, and working cooperatively with them. Even though the students in the classroom are excluded from this definition, the principal still recognizes them as his chief responsibility in his role as educational leader in the total programme.

There is usually no line of separation between the terms “executive” and “educational leader”. The personnel-minded principal is a functional leader who is acknowledged and accepted by his staff, school, and community. He does not acquire his leadership by virtue of his title; he gains his status by positive achievement. His leadership is recognized through what he has done in the past, what he is doing for his school now, and how he plans and moves forward toward future educational goals.

Apparently, the principal gains leadership status by being able to make a contribution to his school in these positive and definite ways, as the goals of the school are being met. The principal is an active member of his group, willing to take his place among his fellow group participants. He may understand more about the mechanics of administering his school and have superior training in classroom supervision, enabling him to appraise teaching performance for improving skills, but unless he knows how to work with his staff and keep his educational programme moving forward, he is not a functional leader. The meaning of the leadership role as it may be played by the modern school principal unfolds in wider and deeper ways as the principal approaches his job with more understanding as to why the school exists and in what ways he may specifically coordinate efforts toward group goals. Then teachers, students and parents may know and appreciate better the purposes of education.

Morphet and his associates (1974) (in Mbipom, 2000), conceptualize leadership as the influencing of actions, behaviours, beliefs, and feelings of one actor in a social system by another actor with the willing cooperation of the actor being influenced. Undoubtedly, the principal is a leader in that he is endowed with authority to influence the actions, behaviour, beliefs, and feelings of his staff and pupils and to expect their willing cooperation. He is also an administrator in the Lipham sense, and a leader who ‘may bring to bear the authority of his role of the influence of his personality in his relationship with the other members of the organizations’ (National Society for the study of Education, 1964:42).

Principals realize that by virtue of their appointments in accordance with the law of the state, they possess legitimate authority to assign tasks to their teachers and expect competence. Moreover, teachers are obliged by the constitutions of their appointments to comply with legitimate orders. How they use their authority ‘portrays the choice of their leadership style. Their decision can be to wield it over or with their teachers and pupils, and their decision is likely to rest on a combination of their personality and situational factors in an ideological and cultural setting (Edem, 1982:45).

Shuster and Wetzler 91958), concludes that today’s dynamic society demands from the principal definite knowledge and leadership competences for maximum educational achievements. Certainly there are idealistic goals to be set by all serious educators, but the realistic administrator seeks to come to grips with his definite concrete problems in practical ways. Thus, an administrative officer of secondary schools who is close to students, teachers, parents, and citizens of the community know how to demonstrate his leadership skills in giving direction and projections to the school. The principal’s professional maturity focuses on two major aspects of work:

  1. his administrative and supervisory role; and
  2. The nature of his leadership behaviour.

One of the primary tasks of the principal as postulates by Edem (1982), is to motivate his staff to move in a desired direction. To get people to do things, and especially to perform at high levels that ring great efficiency and personnel satisfaction, requires a functional style of leadership. Many principals believe that charting the educational course and directing staff personnel are processes reserved solely for the administrator’s office.

Shuster and Wetzler (1958) maintains that to the democratic administrator, working with people means arranging the situation in such a way that they will do what is needed because it is the natural thing to do, since they want to do it. In this regard, the school principal is practicing the democratic approach in his administrative affairs by recognizing his role as an organizer of those natural situations which provide motivation in such a way that all participants do not feel they are being told or ordered as to what to do and how. Thus the entire school personnel will be participating in all areas affecting them, even in forming certain decisions.

Shuster and Wetzler also conclude that the principal’s leadership role is ultimately determined by the kind of membership he holds in his school. He is oriented towards his teachers. There is no difference in level, since he is a leader who has gained status by virtue of his abilities. He encourages a free exchange of ideals and participation by his teachers. They argue that the principal using the autocratic approach will insist on some kind of professional and social distance in this kind of staff relationship. Generally speaking, he maintains his prestige by title and designated authority. He is also more concerned identifying himself with the higher levels of administration. Frequently he may have goals, desires, and wishes that are entirely different from those of his staff, since communication may be practically non-existent. Finally, the principal brings meaning to a democratic administration by demonstrating his belief in his actual problem – solving methods. He refuses to hand down his orders arbitrarily, and by working with his staff he achieves a consensus of agreement that is proof of a cooperative attack, as principal and faculty share in leadership areas.

Akpan (1998), is of the opinion that the introductions of the  6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria, which leads to the expansion of the secondary school curriculum and increases students’ enrolment make the administrative roles of secondary school principals more demanding than ever before. The Nigerian secondary schools have goals and objectives to be achieved for the growth and development of the nation. The current two-tier secondary school system is aimed at providing functional education to the youths. The extent to which the secondary school attains its stated objectives depends greatly on the effective management and leadership of the principal.

The society in which our schools form part is undergoing economic and social changes and challenges. Administration, be it educational or otherwise is concerned with the management of human and material resources for the explicit purpose of attaining the organizational goals and objectives. It is a service oriented process and the more committed one is to serving one’s fellow man, the betteer and will be as a school administrator.

Adesina and Ogunsaju (1984) state that for some strange reasons, it has been assumed that any teacher with academic qualification and years of teaching experience and even without the right type of personality can become a secondary school principal. This implies that such a person is expected to put up the administrative aspects of his work as he goes along. Unfortunately, the days of amateur heads of secondary schools are gone. The roles of schools principals in modern times increasingly require the skills of a professional administrator. It is therefore necessary to have principals who have some administrative and management skills. This is essential if secondary schools in the state are to be effectively administered for the achievement of the nation’s educational goals and objectives.

The changed conditions in our society and secondary schools required principals who are trained and skilled administrators capable of scientific and detailed control of the decision making process. It is in support of this fact that Campbell (1968) opines that given the rather chaotic nature of our public schools, public expectations of the school role in a dynamic society, the school complexity and difficulty of operations, those to be appointed principals should receive formal training. The above statement implies that the administrative functions of school principals in recent times have become so increasingly complex that men and women who manage the educational institutions must be people who are educated.

1.2    Statement of the Study

What happened in Secondary Schools has attracted much attention and concern from policy makers, stakeholders as well as educationist nationally. This is so because secondary schools are the stepping-stone to higher education. However, the leadership role of the principal attracted much questions as to its effectiveness in achieving the goals and objectives of the school. This is observed in classroom instruction, classroom management, academic performance, maintaining school discipline, involving staff in decision-making and their professional growth.

In essence, principals have been unable to perform creditably well in these areas. It is in this regard that the problem of this study is posed as a question-would the level of principal’s leadership role significantly influence classroom instruction, classroom management, academic performance, maintenance of school discipline, staff involvement in decision-making and professional growth?

1.3    Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to evaluate principal’s leadership role in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, this study focused on finding out whether:

  1. Principal’s level of leadership role significantly influences classroom instruction.
  2. The level of principal’s leadership role significantly influences classroom management.
  3. Principal’s level of leadership role significantly influences academic performance among students.
  4. Principal’s level of leadership role significantly influences the maintenance of school discipline.
  5. Principal’s level of leadership role significantly influences the staff involvement in decision-making.
  6. Principal’s level of leadership role significantly influences their professional growth.

1.4    Research Questions

This study seeks to find answers to the following research questions:

  1. To what extent does principal’s role influence classroom instruction?
  2. To what extent does principal’s leadership role influence classroom management?
  3. How does principal’s leadership role influence students’ academic performance?
  4. How does principal’s leadership role influence the level of school discipline?
  5. How does principal’s leadership role influence his effectiveness in involving staff in decision-making?
  6. To what extent does principal’s professional growth influence his administrative effectiveness?

1.5    Research Hypotheses

  1. Principal’s leadership role does not significantly influence classroom instruction.
  2. Principal’s leadership role does not significantly influence classroom management.
  3. There is no significant influence of principal’s leadership role on students’ academic performance
  4. Principal’s leadership role does not significantly influence the level of school discipline.
  5. There is no significant influence of leadership role of principals involving staff in decision-making.
  6. Professional growth of principals does not significantly influence his administrative effectiveness.

1.6    Significance of the Study

This study is significant for the following reasons:

  1. It will contribute in solving administrative problems in secondary schools provided it is published broadly. Consequently, it will guide the State Secondary Education Board in Akwa Ibom State in evaluating principal’s administrative functions.
  2. It is hoped that the results of this study will give a sense of direction to principals and supervisors in the areas they should stress in the administration of schools to ensure effectiveness vis-à-vis the attainment of the desired school objectives.
  3. The data generated in this study will help to provide the future principal, the beginning principal, or the practicing principal with an understanding of the professional leadership competencies demanded by the position.
  4. The results of this study will help educational planners in the Ministry of Education to see the need to introduce courses in educational administration in colleges of education and make them compulsory for all education students both in the colleges and the universities.
  5. The result of this study will add more literature to the existing ones in leadership effectiveness of secondary schools principals in Akwa Ibom State. Through this research, principals will appreciate the implication of evaluating the entire school programme to achieve optimal goals and objectives.

1.7    Research Assumptions

This study is predicated on the following assumptions:

  1. Principal’s leadership role exists and can be identified and measured.
  2. Principal’s leadership role varies from school-to-school.
  3. Given the necessary motivation, principals can perform their leadership role effectively.
  4. Principals do not involve teachers in decision-making in all situations.
  5. Principals performed effective role in maintain school discipline.
  6. Principal’s professional growth can influence the level of their administrative effectiveness.

1.8    Limitation of the Study

In the course of the study, lukewarm attitude exhibited by school principals towards the response to the questionnaire items, and lack of funds to cover all schools, were the hindrances experienced by the researcher in the course of this study. Another limitation was the problem of getting the necessary empirical work for literature review in some aspects of the study.

1.9    Scope of the Study

The scope of this study covered public secondary schools and their principals in Akwa Ibom State, during the 2010/2011 academic session. Although there were private secondary schools in the state, they were not included in this study.

The study focused on the evaluation of principals’ leadership role in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State. Areas of principal’s leadership role covered in this study were: leadership role in classroom instruction, classroom management, academic performance, maintaining, school discipline, involving staff in decision-making and professional growth. Other variables that may affect leadership role of principals have not been tested. Based on this, the generalization of the research results of this study was based on the above named variables.

1.10  Operational Definition of Terms

The variables identified for this study are operationally defined as follows:

  1. Leadership Role in Classroom Instruction

This refers to the principals’ ability and competence in supervising the teaching/learning process for the attainment of the school goals and objectives. This was operationalized by the sum of the respondents’ scores on items in Section A, Nos. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.

  1. Classroom Management

This is the process by which principals helps colleagues and co-workers operate the best way of principles in maintaining healthy learning environment. This was operationalized by the sum of the respondents’ scores on items in Section B, Nos. 8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15.

  1. Academic Performance

This refers to the personal academic output of the learners as a result of the principals’ leadership effectiveness. This was measured by the sum of the respondents’ scores on items in Section C, Nos. 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23.

  1. School Discipline

This refers to the orderly behaviour exhibited by the students and staff in the school environment. It was measured by the sum of the subjects’ scores on items in Section D, Nos.  24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31.

  1. Decision-Making

This refers to the collective participation of principals and staff in decision-making affecting the staff and the school. This was measured by the sum of the respondents’ scores on items in Section E, Nos. 32,33,34,35,36,37,38.

  1. Professional Growth

This refers to the principals continuous learning to increase their knowledge and skills in the day-to-day running of the schools. This was operationalized by the sum of the respondents’ scores on items in Section F, Nos.  39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46.

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