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PRINCIPALS’ VARIABLES AND ICT PROFICIENCY IN SECONDARY SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION IN CALABAR MUNICIPALITY L.G.A, CROSS RIVER STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Proficiency in ICT simply refers to a measure of one’s competence in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools such as mobile devices, tablets, computers as well as the software programs that are run by these devices; thereby having the ability to access, manage and share information in an efficient and productive way. Proficiency in ICT enables us to carry out tasks effectively and efficiently thus saving time for exploration of other developmental ideas. ICT advancement has had a significant impact on human achievements all over the world and any organisation that seeks to compete with its contemporaries on a global level must adapt to and adopt ICT advantages.
The school is considered as an institution designed to provide learning and learning spaces for students, it is a place that builds up the character of its learners even as it directs them towards the understanding of particular disciplines. In school, students can have the opportunity to learn several valuable life lessons that would gear them towards self development and make them responsible members of the society. Diligence, self-discipline, strong work ethic, team playing, self-control, time management are some of the characteristics that can be developed within a school. Therefore, the principal, who is the person with the greatest responsibility of managing a school, through his abilities, will determine how well the students would develop these characteristics, thereby arriving at self and societal development. He guides the activities of the school towards achieving its set goals. To achieve this, he must primarily, be an effective leader. He must be organized; making himself available to teachers, parents, students, non-academic staff members, and the community; in order to execute his duties effectively, the principal must become efficient at practices such as prioritizing, scheduling and organization (Meador, 2017). The school principal also has an important role in teacher evaluation, to determine the effectiveness of his teachers, mechanisms have to be put in place to document teacher performance and analyse performance data fairly in order to determine where and to whom to channel professional development strategies, whom to retain in the profession and whom to let go and as the head of the administrative department, he will have to report this analysis to the supervisors or the board of directors of the school.
1.1.1 THE NEED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE COMPETENCY IN SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
In any institution, the administrative department is the coordinator of every other department. This department ensures that the entire organisation functions as a whole despite their different roles; it serves as a middle-man between the management board and the employees, ensures that the employees understand the goals of the organisation while encouraging and motivating them to accomplish such goals. Apart from ensuring a flow of information from the top to the employees, the administrative department should also be able to recognise any dissatisfaction or difficulties the employees may be experiencing in their quest to accomplish the institution’s set goals and communicate these problems to the managerial board so as it can be addressed for the smooth running of the institution. Thus without an effective administration, an organisation would not run professionally and smoothly (Mishra, 2014).
The school administrator must understand what his job entails; he should at the very least have a degree in educational administration and management which will advance his knowledge in the theory and practice of leadership and management in education.
The effective administrator should have the ability tounderstand general concepts of administration; enhance the office staff’s ability to manage and organize the office effectively and professionally; file in the proper way and filing standard; develop an appropriate office management strategy; develop an appropriate assets management strategy; develop administrative procedures; plan and control administrative budget (Mishra, 2014). Apart from these, he should understand the needs, goals and vision of the institution he represents so as to be able to communicate same to the people he works with.
Without these administrative skills, it will be difficult for the institution to run professionally and successfully. In summary, the qualities of an effective administration would include but not limited to the following:
- Must be goal oriented. The school principal for example should be familiar with what the government wants to achieve through education and seek to accomplish this with workable strategies.
- Must be an effective manager of assets, people and funds
- Must be able to motivate and put everyone on a steady drive to excel.
- Must communicate. Communication plays a vital role in ensuring the participation of the stakeholders involved in the institution. Everyone must be carried along and made to feel like a part of the system while roles are disseminated promptly and in a mode that can be understood.
- Must be organized. A good administration prioritizes, schedules, disseminates duties with set timelines all towards achieving the goals of the organisation.
- Must carry out adequate evaluation. There must be a standard measure of evaluation because the organisation must be seen to be fair and impartial. With correct evaluations, the administration will be better equipped to make vital and proactive decisions.
A school principal, in order to be successful in his role must drive himself towards developing qualities that will improve his administrative and leadership capacity. This effort would then transform into the success of the school he oversees. According to Nick Morrison, in his report on a study by experts at the Institute of Education (IoE) in London into the turnaround of schools in one of the city’s poorest boroughs, from the worst performing in England to among the best in the world. The researchers identified the quality of leadership as one of the key factors driving the transformation. They came up with a set of characteristics shared by successful school leaders among others as:
- They are experts at assessment and the tracking of pupil progress with appropriate support and intervention based upon a detailed knowledge of individual pupils.
- They are robust and rigorous in terms of self-evaluation and data analysis with clear strategies for improvement.
The above listed characteristics of quality leadership cannot be developed effectively without the aid of ICT, therefore Nigerian school principals have to develop their ICT proficiencies if they intend to drive transformation in the schools they lead.
1.1.2 THE ROLE OF ICT PROFICIENCY IN PROMOTING COMPETENCY IN ADMINISTRATION
Administration and Management applications of ICT are currently popular in schools due to its capabilities in facilitating administration activities from data storage to knowledge management and decision making. (Ghavifekr; Afshari; Siraj; Seger, 2013)With the seemingly daunting task of educational leadership, the integration of educational technology, particularly ICT, in the administration of the school becomes necessary for success to be achieved. Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (Robinson, R; Molenda, M; Rezabek, L. 2016). Educational technology includes, but is not limited to ICT which refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications with a primary focus on communication technologies. In order for the school principals in Nigeria to execute their duties and raise the current standard of education to a level closest to the ideal, ICT, which is a factor that can support and aid their achievement should not only be embraced by the school leaders but encouraged by all the educational stakeholders in Nigeria.
Basic ICT applications used by school administrators include word processing, data processing, internet as well as communication and messaging tools.
Word processing is the production, storage and manipulation of text on a computer or word processor; of all computer applications, word processing is the most common (Beal, 2017) Administrative staff uses office tools such as MS-Office, Tally etc. to handle financial work, maintain communication, and keep records and process documents (Kawade, 2012). A word processor enables you to create a document, store it electronically on a disk, display it on a screen, modify it by entering commands and characters from the keyboard, and print it on a printer (Beal, 2017).
Unlike the type writer, documents on the word processor can be edited without having to create the document afresh thereby saving time. An administrator can also share documents on word processor easily by simply copying it onto a disk or emailing as an attachment to his collegues. Word processing also gives a neat and professional outlook to the documents with fonts and characters that can be manipulated to suit the audience preference.
Data processing is the collection and manipulation of items of data to produce meaningful information. The first stage of data processing is the collection of data. This must be done accurately in order to produce meaningful information at the end of the process, an example of data collection could be an administrative by-product (data collection as a byproduct of an organization’s day-to-day operations) (Rudo, 2013). Afterwards, the data is prepared, that is, manipulated into a format suitable for further analysis; it is then converted into a machine readable format for processing by the computer and then subjected to various means of manipulation by the computer in order for it to be processed.The output of the processing is finally interpreted and stored for reference and retrieval.
Data processing can be used by the administrator for assessment of teacher and student performances in order to determine the aptitudes of the students. Data processing must not be limited to manipulation of test scores, but applied in different facets of the students’ learning for a clearer observation of their performances. Teachers must see that data stretch beyond what's expressed on test company spreadsheets. The concept of data encompasses many kinds of information that help teachers know their students, and themselves as practitioners, in depth and data can be interpreted in many nuanced ways. (Morrison, 2009)
The internet is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols. In the last two decades, the internet and ICT application tools have been expended into the field of education all over the world. (Ghavifekr; Afshari; Siraj; Seger, 2013) and administrator’s proficiency in the use of internet facilities would enable him gain access to information all over the world; communications and collaborations would be easier and his institution can run better as a unit with timely and accurate information circulation and distribution which would be made possible through the internet. Apart from information dissemination, the internet can be used by the administrator for cloud storage, emailing, online forums and research. He can and should also introduce a system where teachers set up tests and assignments online that can be automatically graded; this saves a lot of time doing correcting; they can afterwards generate result by using ICT. Also they can set up websites and online portals for students to access assignments (Kawade, 2012).
Messaging and communication through telephone and mobile devices is an aspect of ICT that must be utilised by every organisation for it’s effective running. In Nigeria, statistics from Africa Infotech Consulting (AIC) showed that smartphone penetration has increased gaining about 30 per cent penetration with features phones having a 70 per cent penetration (Adepetun, 2016). The most important use of the cell phone is the ability of its user to stay in touch with anybody at any time including during emergencies. In addition to voice communication, mobile phones allow the transfer of data, which can be particularly useful for delivering educational content over long distances. Principals can collaborate with each other sharing their experiences and gleaning knowledge from each others administrative strategies. They can also readily and easily keep their superiors informed of the schools’ activities without having to travel long distances; parents, members of the community as well as teachers can be kept abreast of developments and requirements of the school through phone calls and text messages.Of the many different forms of ICTs, mobile phones are thought, for several reasons, to be a particularly suitable tool for advancing education in developing regions.(Valk; Rashid; Elder, 2010)