This study was conducted to investigate the conflict resolution mechanisms in public secondary schools in Ebonyi state, Nigeria. Four research questions and three hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted descriptive survey research design. The population of the study comprised of all the public secondary school principals and teachers in Ebonyi State. The sample for the study is 260 respondents, out of the total population of 5228 respondents. The instrument for data collection was a structured questionnaire titled conflict resolution mechanisms questionnaire. The data generated for the study was analyzed using mean and standard deviation for answering the research questions while t-test statistics was used for testing the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. It was discovered from the findings that cause of conflicts in schools include: individual aggressiveness, authoritarianism, frustration due to uncoducive working atmosphere, poor motivation and stress from the job, misunderstanding, not taking instructions, poor communication, lack of commitment, poor management and differences in opinion. Conflicts in schools are manifested through destruction of public properties, blocking the highways and preventing others from attending to their work peacefully, writing of petitions against authority by staff, students/community riots, teachers strikes, verbal hostility expressed in for of rebukes and defamation of character, demonstration and carrying of placards and of songs. Conflicts encourage indiscipline, breeds non -charlant attitude to work, and adversely affects students’ performance and drag reputation of schools to mud. Conflicts could be resolved by involving both parties to a conflict in a discussion, involving teachers and student in decision-making; being fair and firm, and holding regular meetings with the PTA. Based on the finding the researcher recommended that educational administrations and planner should appreciate the causes of conflict and put in place mechanism for handling then when they come up. Government at all levels should reduce and avert conflict by providing good working environment in the schools.

Background of the Study
Conflict is experienced within the individual, between individuals, among groups, states and sometimes transcend to other creatures. The fact that this phenomenon exists in all creation makes it difficult to understand and almost impossible to resolve successfully, especially when its causes are natural. When conflict is resolved there is bound to be peace. The major concern has been how to give meaning to this phenomenon, diagnose its structure, locates its causes and attempts finding solution. In spite of all the efforts, by the Government conflict appears to defy solutions by drawing individuals at daggers points, groups as well as institutions at war and nations at loggerheads. It has been a central concern not only to these mentioned categories but also to international community and development agencies. According to Onu (2005), One major reason for the concern about conflict resolution and transformation is because if it becomes protracted, conflicts can wrap up a society, economies or regions where they are situated in complex emergencies which can in turn be extended to global environment, and become obstacle to peace and progress. For any organization to perform effectively, interdependent individuals and groups within the organization must establish relationships across organizational boundaries, between individuals and among groups.

Individuals or groups may depend on one another for information, assistance, or coordinated actions. Such inter-dependence may foster either cooperation or conflict. Conflict connotes disagreement, distortions inconsistencies and antagonisms existing in a particular system. It could equally mean discord in actions, lack of concordance in opinion in order to achieve one’s own goal.

Conflicts arise in virtually every human organization, secondary schools inclusive. This is so because in every human organization, the individual characteristics such as aggressiveness, authoritarianism, and frustration due to un-conducive working atmosphere, poor motivation, and stress from the job create tension in the organization. According to Ikejiani-clark (2009), conflict is a natural and inevitable part of people working together, sharing diverse thoughts, concerns, perspectives and goals. It may occur at inter-organizational, organizational, inter-group and interpersonal levels. For example, there may be conflicts involving a school and the community; where the school is located the principal, the staff and students, students and the school authority, a staff and a fellow staff or between two students, or among staff or among students. Ezegbe (1997) defines conflicts as mutual hostility in inter-human relationships. The mutual hostility, according to her, can occur in form of insults, name calling, defamation of character, blackmailing, sarcasm, false accusation, withdrawal of services, salaries, fringe benefits or incentives, strikes and demotion. White and Bednar cited in Imhabekhai (2000), defines conflict as the interplay of interdependent people or groups who perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals.

According to Nye (2001) conflict is conceived as “mutual hostility” at interpersonal, inter-human, inter-group, and inter-ethnic, inter-cultural and at inter-national level. It is a situation where the disputants are hostile to each other or to one another in order to achieve their set goals or objectives, which are usually regulated by hierarchy of human needs, selfishness, possessiveness, greediness, as well as sociological, political, cultural, psychological and religious motives. According to Harks (2001), conflict means: to come into collision, clash or be in opposition or at variance. It equally means ‘strife’, controversy, discord of action, disagreement in opinions, and antagonism of interest or principle. Kemper (2001), while relating conflict behavior to conflict concept, defined inter-personal conflict as “that role situation in which the organizational conditions, practices, needs or goals of different members appear incompatible to those other members. Imobughe (2005) sees conflict as a state of disharmony in an interactional process describing it thus, as an inevitable universal phenomenon affecting all cultures irrespective of size, political, social and economic development. Udomo (2000) sees conflict as disagreement and misunderstanding between two parties concerning an issue(s). Conflict he said exists where there is divergent or different ideas to a matter under consideration. People who are in conflict are termed to be quarreling, disunited, struggling and fighting over things. He concluded that where there is conflict people tend not to cooperate with each other; cold war exists and things fall apart. Conflicts are part and parcel of human organizations world over. This indeed is a paradox because of the amount of energy and resources expended by organization to prevent and or resolve conflicts. Flippo (2005) attempted an explanation why there must be conflict when he remarked that, a total absence of conflict would be unbelievable, boring, and strong indication that conflict is suppressed. The inevitability of conflict was also established by Kerzner (1998) when he asserted that conflict is part of change and therefore inevitable.

It is therefore not an aberration to expect conflicts in the administration of secondary schools in Ebonyi State. The nature and types of conflicts that occur in secondary school administration vary from one school to another. These types of conflicts include internal and external conflict. Internal conflict is person versus self, while external is person versus nature and environment. According to Kirkwood (2002), various types of conflict that exist in organizations include data conflicts, structural conflicts, relationship conflicts, and interest conflicts. Conflicts can lead to disputes, grievances, lawsuits, complaints, strikes, and disciplinary actions. Conflicts can occur at a number of levels of human functioning. Conflict which lies on the shoulder of an administrator between opposing motives or ideas is shown by its “internal dialogue” and is at the intra- personal level. According to Okeibunor and Anugwom (2002), the primary concern here is with the social conflict, that is, conflict between people whether they are acting as individuals, as members of groups, or as representatives of organizations or nations. Interpersonal conflicts occur when two or more people have incompatible needs, goals, or approach in their relationship.

Communication breakdown is often an important source of interpersonal conflict and learning communication skill is valuable in preventing and resolving such difficulties. However, very real differences occur between people that cannot be resolved by any amount of improved communication. “Personality conflict” refers to very strong differences in motives, values or style in dealing with people that are not resolvable. For example, if both parties in a relationship have a high need for power and both want to be dominant in the relationship, there is no way both can be satisfied, and a power struggle ensues. Common tactics used in interpersonal power struggle include the exaggerated use of rewards and punishments, deception and evasion, threats and emotional blackmail. Unresolved power conflict usually recycles and escalates to the point of relationship breakdown and termination. Role conflict involves very real differences in role definitions, expectations or responsibilities between individuals who are interdependent in a social system. If there are ambiguities in role definitions in an organization or unclear boundaries of responsibilities, then the stage is set for interpersonal friction between the persons involved. Unfortunately, role conflict is often misdiagnosed as interpersonal conflict rather than role conflict, and resolution is then complicated and misdirected. The emotional intensity is often quit high in role conflict since people are directly involved as individuals and there is a strong tendency to personalize the conflict (Fisher, 2000)......

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