Personal Characteristics, Perception Of Social Work Environment And Role Performance Of Secondary School Principals In Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS, PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL WORK ENVIRONMENT AND ROLE PERFORMANCE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the study
Education for some times now has received a lot of criticisms from Nigerians of all categories. The Nigerian society is making frantic demands on the school system, which comprises school principals, teachers and students for quality education. This means that education in Nigeria has not lived up to its expectation. The standard of education has fallen going by the rate of examination malpractices, mass failure in examination, truancy and dropout amongst our students and the fact that half-baked graduates are being produced from our schools. Prior to this time, standard six graduates were able to read, write and express themselves in English language. But now, some graduates of secondary school cannot read, write or express themselves correctly as stipulated by Agua (1990).
The success of failure of any educational system depends very much on the ability of the school administrators to manage the school environment as well as its resources effectively. Ideally, school activity should take place in a conducive environment in order to realize the set goals.
Many learned papers are presented in conferences and seminars to make a determination whether the lapses are caused by the principal and teachers. Participants examine the challenges of our growing nation and the roles principals should play to enhance efficacy in the school system. They came up with varied ‘recipes’ for ensuring the role performance of school principals. This has warranted this study because teachers and principals play several parts in the teaching-learning activities of the school.
Bosset (1982) asserts that the realization of school set goals can be accomplished through the principal’s skill and mastery of effective school administration. He defines school administration as the social process by which human and material energies are identified, maintained and stimulated either formally or informally within an integrated system designed to attain predetermined objectives. This implies that, if school principals must influence work in their schools environment to enhance their role performance, they must first influence the conduct of their staff and students. One way of doing this, is to create a positive and friendly environment and by relating well with their staff and students.
Environment is defined in the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, as surroundings, circumstance and influences that affect an individual within a certain period of time. The school environment in this study is therefore, defined as the sum total of factors within the school setting such as the social environment which tend to influence administrative effectiveness.
The role performance of a school administrator is very much determined by the school environment of which he is directly in charge. Ozigi (1977), holds the view that, the organization, administrative and instructional spirit as well as the purpose of a school depends largely on the principal. He adds that the schoolwork revolves round the administrator, the school reputation depends on him and he can make or mar a school.
Effective administration of a school is the function of the school administrator and his ability to effectively manage the school environment to attain educational set goals. The principal occupies a unique position in the administration of the school. Ozigi (1981), describes a Secondary school principal who directs the affairs of the school effectively in order to achieve its goals and objectives as “pragmatic” Fafunwa (1974), views the principal as the chief supervisor of the school who works with the vice principals, departmental heads, etc to achieve maximum result.
Udo-Ema (1980), opines that, the principal is an organizer and manager. He further enumerate the principals’ functions as an organizer as follows:
- Attending to his office duties
- Developing and organizing his school programs
- Providing working facilities for effective work performance
- Supervising instruction and extra-curricular activities in the school.
The principal’s role as a manager are considered as follows:
- The development of a healthy working environment within and outside the school.
- maintenance of discipline in the school
iii. motivation of both staff and students
- coordination of activities in the school, and
- the provision of leadership in terms of academic, mural and professional leadership.
However, the principal cannot perform all these functions effectively if the general school environment is not conducive. A positive and friendly school environment motivates both teachers and students in the teaching/learning process while a hostile environment underscores the performance of both teachers and this directly or indirectly affects the administrators’ role performance.
Another area of importance in the school environment is the type of human interaction that exists among the staff and students. William (1980), observes that the relationship between the principal, teacher and students helps in shaping the social environment of the school. Students, teachers and the principal of an institution make up the human element of the school. The relationship between the students and other students, teachers and students, teacher/teachers and principal-students can positively or negatively influence an administrator’s role performance.
Some principals’ inspite of their several years of academic experience, still find it difficult to encourage meaningful interactions with teachers and students for effective administration. Accordingly, Akaya (1994), pointed out that with many years of experience, they do not deem it necessary to note the importance of social interaction within the school for effective administration.
A disciplined environment enhances learning. The self‑discipline and personal dignity of a principal is a good disciplinary force. The positive attitude elicited and upheld by the principal, controls similar behaviour of the part of students and teachers. Hence, Woods and Barrow (1987), opined that the tone of the school organization and discipline are essential element that make up a favourable school environment. The principal should strive to unite the whole school together and control the activities of staff and students for higher productivity.
In influencing the learning climate of the school, no other individual is potentially as powerful as the school administrator. This is because administrators have a pervasive influence throughout the organization under their control. It is therefore, important that, they relate to others effectively. The administrator relationship is reflected in the effectiveness of the organization; in the ways in which teachers work with children, and ultimately the personality of the children.
Currently, the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education in collaboration with the State Secondary Education Board and the Institute of Education, University of Uyo has propounded ling vacation training programmes for teachers all over Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria to retrain teachers and update their knowledge and skills. With this update in knowledge and skills, the principal must ensure that the lesson content for various classes are up to date and appropriate. Assumptions that lessons are taught by teachers is disastrous. He must ensure that both teachers and pupils are equipped with appropriate work tools. The tone of the school depends largely on the principal’s role performance. The principal must help raise the tone of the school by encouraging extra-curricular activities like clubs, sports and field trips to enhance talents discoveries. An “armed-chair” principal will be shocked on seeing the detrimental state of academic performances of his school and of course the ruins will be managed by him.
The principal, being a leader has a number of tasks to perform to drive home his goals and objectives as stipulated in the National Policy on education (2004) as “preparing a child for useful living within the society and preparing same for higher education”. Gorton (1983) identified seven categories of administrators’ task area to include: pupil personnel, staff personnel, community-school relationship, instruction and curriculum development, school finance, business management, school plant and general tasks which include organization and conduct of meetings or conference, handling delicate interpersonal administrative problems, diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of the school programmes.
In view of the outlined roles of the principal, they must exhibit a considerable maturity in their role performance to be able to achieve their desired goals as stipulated by Lincohn (1990) that “the roles of a principal is either fragile or non-existent. He is an administrator and also a leader.
He is not just a factor but a crucial factor in a social system. Since there is no consensus about his roles, he must depend on his personal value judgment. His role performance must be based on what he perceives the organizational value dictates”.
In the context of school management, Bosses (1982) pointed out that principals’ role performance is shaped by a number of non-school factors including personnel characteristics such as sex, educational qualification, years of experience and perception of the social work environment which comprise of teachers and students. To be effective therefore, principals must put principles into practice while performing their roles. Principals are responsible to different interest groups in the society. It is not easy for the principal to satisfy all these groups, so he should fall back on the fourteen principles as stated in Mbikpom (2000) which include amongst others; Division of work, parity of authority and responsibility, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, equity, stability of personnel, initiative and Espirit‑de-corps.
If a principal has a correct, concise and vivid perception of his roles expectations, he will then have a strong drive to accomplish his goals, by adopting and implementing his administration based on the technical, human and conceptual skills. These will help him in achieving his set goal of preparing the students for useful living within the society and preparing same for higher education.
Unfortunately, many of the current efforts to improve school experiences and enhance administrative role performance, neglect consideration of the school social environment. It is in the light of this that this study becomes necessary.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The school is the nucleus of the society, whose defined goals and objectives are carefully geared towards the needs and aspiration of the society in which it is founded. Sometimes, the school, through human error could run counter to the said goal and objectives of the society. Here a problem arises. In recent times, the mass failure often recorded in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), coupled with gross-indiscipline and high rate of truancy and violence in our school, lack of confidence among teachers as well as students, has become a source of concern for parents and government. In the 2004/2005 academic year, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Celestine Bassey order all senior secondary two (SS2) students promotion examination to senior secondary three (SS3) to be based on mock examination set, marked, and result published officially through the supervision of the examination department of the State Ministry of Education. The result shows mass failure which is a serious pointer to the laxity on the school social environment of which the principal is the head.
In some secondary schools, there are virtual attitude of laxity and laissez-faire on the part of principals. Principals are supposed to lead by example in such areas as being very punctual to school, leading or partaking in morning devotions, supervising teachers lesson delivery, supervising the non-teaching staff, relating with school supervisors, overseeing other central office personnel, managing personnel, as well as supervising other clerical and office routines.
Whether all the blames are centered in the school in terms of teachers’ inadequacy, failure to supervise, failure to teach properly etc, directly or indirectly, the school administrator is the chief executive of the school and has the responsibility of overseeing the smooth running of the school. He is held responsible for/or failure of the school.
In a bid to help the school system to find a dependable solution to the role performance of secondary school principals hence restoring the lost academic glory to our schools, teachers, students, parents etc, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Celestine Bassey, has come up with a new policy of extending the official closing time of secondary schools from 2pm to 3pm to further brush up the student.
It is against this background that the researcher seeks to investigate, how such personal characteristics like sex, years of working experience, academic qualifications and perceptions of the social work environment affect administrators’ in their role performance.
1.3 The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to determine the influence of secondary school principals’ personal characteristics, perception of the social work environment on their role performance in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study was aimed at finding out the extent to which.
- Principals’ sex, years of working experience, educational qualification influence their role performance
- Principals’ perception of staff influence their role performance.
- Principals’ perception of students influence their role performance.
- Principals’ perception of daily task as an administrator influence their Performance.
1.4 Research Questions
To effectively guide the research, the following research questions were posed:
- How does principals’ sex, marital status; years of working experience and educational qualification influence their role performance?
- 1s there any relationship between the principals’ perception of staff and their role performance?
iii. Do principals’ perception of students influenced their role performance?
- How does principals’ perception of daily task influence their role performance?
1.5 Statement of Hypotheses
In consonance with the above research questions, the following hypotheses were formulated in the study:
i, The principals’ years of working experience does not significantly influence their role performance.
- The principal’s sex does not significantly influence their role
- Principals’ role performance does not significantly depend on their educational qualification.
- There is no significant relationship between principals’ perception of daily task and their role performance.
- There is no significant relationship between the principals’ perception of staff and their role performance.
1.6 Significance of the study
A study of the relationship between school environment and its various components or dimensions on the one hand and administrators’ (principals’ and vice principals) role performance in Nigerian secondary education system on the other hand, is worth undertaking. For the past two or more decades, the extent to which school objectives and goals, especially those that relate to academic attainment, have been a far cry from , the expectations of teachers, policymakers, parents, educationists and the concerned public (Oriaifo, 1989). The problem of poor academic attainment not only at the secondary level of education but also at the primary and tertiary levels have been blamed on teachers, students, the general public: as well as the education policy makers. Schools administrators have sometimes been singled out for castigation for their alleged inability to provide the most appropriate environment, focus and stimulation that would ensure effective learning (Ellett and Idalberg, 1983).
Given this background, a study such as this, will serve to ascertain the various aspects or dimensions of the school environment that would facilitate effective role performance among school administrators or principals. Such a finding derivable therein will be significant in:
Considering the importance of the environment in most human conducts, especially in relation to secondary school administrators’ role performance, policy makers in education will thus be sensitized of the need to provide the most appropriate motivation on the part of the students and teachers that would promote the attainment of educational goals. In the same manner, school administrators will appreciate the need to create a conducive social and organizational environment that would stimulate both teachers, students and other supportive staff in the secondary school system, to attain greater levels of efficiency and productivity.
The study in addition, will identify the influence of background variables such as gender and teaching experience on role performance and thereby provide the necessary variable manipulation aimed at attaining the appropriate role performance.
This study will ascertain short-comings in our social work and organizational environment, the data so obtained may be utilized by school administrators or policy makers for the purpose of making changes and adjustment that would lead to the placement of committed, experienced, qualified principals for effective administration of schools in order to ensure adequate attainment of the set goals for our schools.
Secondary school principals will, from this study, become more conscious of their leadership roles and endeavour to foster a good environment for the realization of set goals of the school. The findings of this study will encourage the Education Ministry to provide proper motivation to teachers, students, parents and principals alike.
1.7 Assumptions of the Study
For the purpose of this study, the researcher made the following assumptions:-
- The sampled principals are representatives of the population under study.
- The responses that were given by the subject on the various questionnaires will reflect the true situation of the variables under study.
iii. Lack of good and cordial social interaction within members of the school brings about conflict which may create an unfavourable environment that will hinder the attainment of school set-goals.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The major problem that militated against the carrying out of this research study was the:
- Geographical location of schools and transportation: Many secondary schools were located too far into the rural areas, some in riverine areas and others in very difficult terrains, almost inaccessible. It required high transportation cost, much time and energy to reach the principals of the two hundred and eight (208) schools. This however could affect the generalization of the result of the study.