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THE ROLE AND STATUS OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
1.1 Background of the study
The school is an academic environment where individuals are educated and trained in different fields of study for the development of the individuals and the society. Principal is the administrator of secondary school in Uyo Education Zone. He or she is expected to bring together students, teachers and parents teachers association as a family as well as implementing government policy on education and school rules regulations so that the goals of the school at this level will be achieved.
As early as 1842, when the first secondary school was established by the church missionary society (CMS) inLagos, the office of the principal was established. Each voluntary agency that established the secondary school also choose a principal who could achieve both the religious and the academic functions of the school. For many years the secondary school principal kept his role as the instructional leader of the school. (Mbipom 1983).
The learning process is usually expected to produce impressive results provided the school possesses the relevant administrative and professional atmosphere favourable for effective teaching and learning. This is because the administrative efficacy of the school leadership promotes achievement of the students.
The role and status of the secondary school principal has changed through the years. To this end Udo, Akpa and Grang (1990) identify the responsibilities of the present day school principal to include:
- The preparing the annual budget of the school.
- Liaising between the school and educational agencies and organizations.
- Co-ordinating Parents Teachers Association activities
- Initiating Innovations.
- Supervising the activities of all school functionaries
- Designing of the physical plant of the school.
- Organizing the school curriculum and its contents.
- Selecting textbooks, materials and equipment.
- Determining of services to aid the teaching and learning activities.
- Maintaining effective lines of communication within the school and with outside agencies.
- Maintaining a high level of discipline and policy formulation governing curricular and co-curricular activities.
- Reporting school defects either in terms of infrastructure or personnel to the appropriate authorities for rectification (P.13)
it was reported that the role of the administrator of secondary school inCrossRiverandAkwaIbomStatesare in the following order of importance:
- Staff development
- Finance and budgets
- Public relations and the community
- Instructional Development
- Students welfare
According to Bossert (1982) their duties covered monitoring of instruction, this duty increased along with their responsibilities to help teachers improve their teaching. With this change in responsibilities, principals discovered the need to more effectively evaluate instruction and assist teachers as they worked to improve their instructional techniques.
Berhling and Champion (1984) outline some of the perceived duties of the principal as follows:
- The creation and implementation of a shared vision,
- The nurturing and sustaining of a culture and instructional program conducive to learning and staff development,
- The ensuring of the management of school operations to produce a safe and effective learning environment,
- The promotion of integrity, fairness and ethical behavior, and
- Interaction with larger political, social, legal and cultural context of schooling. (p.112).
Andrew and Bassom (1990), found that the unique position principals hold, as the number one person in the school who is responsible for and empowered to oversee the entire school, places them in a powerful position to coordinate the entire school operation. Nwabueze (1995) says, a good and qualitative leadership of schools is responsible for overall academic achievement of students in a school. If the school leadership is poor, the output of the students would be poor, on the other hand, if the leadership is good, then the students academic outcome will be good.
Jacob (1973), asserts that, the effectiveness of a school is largely dependent upon the type of leadership or administration of the school.
According to Redfern (1980), the principal can either exhibit a directive behaviour or guiding- behavior. Based upon the directive behaviour; staff reaction will either be resistive, thereby creating a frictional environment between the principal and the staff. This could make it impossible to achieve the target or goal of the school. In the second part, if the principal exhibits a guiding-behaviour, this could result to an unreserved cooperation on the part of the staff, teachers would put in more of their talents targeted at positive result oriented processes.
(a) Redfern (1980) implies that a qualitative school depends on the effectiveness of the school administrator or leader, and this depends upon the administrative or leadership style employed by the school principal. A survey conducted by Blau and Scott (1963) and adopted by Edem (1987) in identifying various behaviour patterns that characterize leadership styles, grouped behaviour pattern under following :
(1) Authoritarian – directive or compelling in approach,
(2) Laissez – fair – relaxed control with a tendency to induce indiscipline in the school system, and
(3) Democratic leadership- Person and task- oriented, participative and non-directive.
Blau and Richard (1993) states that, an ideal organization is a place where highly motivated people come together to attain predetermined objectives. A good leader is the personnel who work for the production of an ideal organization. According toAnderson(1988) the qualities of good leadership involve “having the ability to lead and to be devoted to achieving the goals of the organization”. He should be committed to his responsibilities of managing both man power and material resources. Carter (1975) went further to enumerate the qualities of any good successful leader as follows: “A leader should have sufficient level of intelligence to make wise decisions and to command the respect of sub-ordinates, he should have confidence in making firm decisions, he must be innovative and he should be highly motivated towards the achievement of objectives of the group”.
Good leadership skill and behaviour is the key to effective management of the people. The adverse effect is rather the result of poor leadership. Just like in other sectors, principal as the head and leaders in Secondary Schools play a very good role in maintaining school discipline. Olaniyan (2008) observes that principal leadership behaviour contributes immensely to the school discipline.
Modern school leadership is challenging. This is because to lead is to control. Controlling human beings requires the ability to modify the mind and character of the people to produce discipline, obedience and followership. School leadership is the moral and intellectual ability to visualize the best school climate for effective and efficient attainment of individual and group goals which come alive when the motives of the leader and the led allocate (Udoh,2002).
National policy on education (FRN, 2004) identified education as an instrument per excellent for effecting national development. It is a means of socializing new entrants into the culture, ethnics and ethos of the society. Denga (2004) asserted that the teacher is the key person in the attainment of educational goal and objectives of any nation. It is the leadership task of the school teacher and principal to guide, conduct, direct or influence the students and other necessary followership for the purpose of achieving common school goals or task. School principals possess the ability to influence other to achieve result. Ojo and Olaniyan (2008) observed that a principal’s leadership behavior is a function of his or her personality variables (sex, age, qualification; work experience and leadership style among others).
Principals’ personality trait is likely to influence his or her work characteristics. Akpan (2005) identified the tasks traits of school principals to motivational pattern, communication pattern, leadership style, disciplinary approach, punctuality and general response to the school supervision task.
He further states that good motivational pattern attracts good resultant effect on the subordinate as regards discipline, productivity and obedience. A good communication pattern has also been identified as a determining factor to strict adherence of the subordinate. According to Akpan (2005) when the principal present his case in well articulated manner with total reception and assimilation of the message by the teachers and students there is bound to be improvement in the school discipline
Babalola and Ayeni (2009) asserted that the behavior of school principals is capable of eliciting positive or negative school climate and discipline or indiscipline behaviours among school members. It is most likely that principal’s leadership behavior has contributed to some extent to the indiscipline behavior common among staff and students of secondary schools in the state. School discipline has been observed by Williams (2008) as having direct relationship with students’ behavior problems and the apparent breakdown in the school ethics and discipline among school students inAkwaIbomStateinclude:
Parental and home background, teachers’ physical of the students, need of social approval and peer group interest, absence of religious and moral instructions, inappropriate curriculum, principals’ administrative style, boarding house system and government laxity with education (Obe, 2008).
Opara (2003) asserted that the school leadership is a significant part of the blame for the breakdown in school ethics and discipline. Earlier studies viewed problem behaviours from various perspectives. Anigbogu (2005) described school indiscipline as a situation that student’s action differ considerably from the standard behaviour of a given school or society. It is any unusual or odd behaviour of a given age, group, society and significantly interfere with student’ growth and development, preventing the student (s) from being happy, building and maintaining satisfying interpersonal relationship with peers, teachers, students and adults. Students’ indiscipline behaviour in schools has been identified by Opara (2003) and Denga (2004) to include: Truancy, disobedience drug offences, assault, insult, dishonesty, wickedness, stealing, sexual immoralities, fighting, bullying, vandalism, using abusive languages, lying, cheating, absenteeism, noise making, cultism, examination malpractices, among others. These characters in students are attributed partly to the poor leadership behaviour of the principal and his vice principal.
School staffs have been observed to elicit a fair share of indiscipline behavior in schools such as lateness to work, not punctual in school and classrooms for lesion delivery, lack of work enthusiasm, non participation in extra curricular activities in schools and rejection of instructional responsibilities among others. Since principals’ leadership behavior has been identify as capable of influencing and modify the behavior of school staff and students to elicit positive school climate with the consequence desirable to ensures accountability in education.