CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN USED IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN ANAMBRA STATE

ABSTRACT
This study examined the management of conflict in primary schools. The purposes of this study are to identify the strategies used by head teachers in managing conflict between teachers, and the strategies used by teachers in managing conflicts between pupils. The purpose of the study is also to identify the strategies used by pupils in managing conflict among themselves. The study identified teachers appraisal of the conflict-management techniques of their head teachers. Four research questions and four hypotheses guided the study. The population of the study consisted of all the pupils in senior primary schools numbering 7892, as well as 1181 teachers and 80 head teachers in two local government areas in Awka Education Zone. The sample size consisted of eight hundred and seventy (870) respondents. The instrument was a questionnaires used to collect data from the respondents. Data collected were analyzed used statistical weighted means and standard deviation. The student t-test was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The findings showed that the head teachers manage conflicts among teachers by use of persuasion, dialogue and invitation of the third party (arbitration). It also revealed that the teachers manage conflicts principally among pupils by using empathy and referral to Guidance Counselors, while pupils manage conflicts among themselves by use of force (confrontation). The appraisal of conflict management style of the head teachers by teachers showed that the head teachers use dialogue, arbitration and separation device as effective ways of resolving conflicts. Generally, the findings showed that pupils, teachers and head teachers in Awka Education Zone apply various and different methods in resolving conflicts in primary schools. For effective management of conflict in primary schools, it was recommended among others that the curriculum planning experts should include a course on management of conflicts in the primary school teacher preparation programmes. This will enable the head teachers, teachers and pupils to be vast in different techniques of conflict management so that they will apply the appropriate ones when the need arises. Suggestions for further studies as well as limitations and implications of the study were also discussed.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
In any society, irrespective of its level of development, educational institutions are established primarily to provide recipients of education with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, work habits and competencies required by the people to perform their social, economic and political roles efficiently, effectively and creditably. This has always influenced the formation of each nation’s policy on education. In Nigeria, for instance, the National Policy on Education (2004) Section 1.5 stated the National aims and objectives of Nigerian Education thus:

i.              The inculcation of national consciousness and national unity.
ii.            The inculcation of the right type of values and attitude for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society.
iii.          The training of the mind in the understanding of the world around and
iv.          The acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competencies both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of his society (FGN 2004:1.5).

The attainment of these lofty aims and objectives depends largely on the productivity of the people (staff) who man the system and this in turn is influenced by how well these staff are managed to perform their functions and their locations whether rural or urban.

The complex nature of the educational establishment makes it possible for people with different backgrounds in terms of needs, goals, skills, talents, status, competencies, knowledge, behaviors, styles, interest, values, prejudices, aggressiveness, perception, temperament, and so on to be members of school system (Peretomode 1997). Teachers and pupils which constitute educational input in the school system come from different backgrounds and have different need-dispositions. Their need-dispositions are sometimes at variance with the goals of the school. Under such state of diversity, operation of the school system cannot be devoid of conflict. This is because individuals or groups are sometimes bound to disagree on issues with emotional intensity (Olele 2000, Umoren 1997 & Mescon 1998). Moreover, the natural rural setting belief that leadership is a masculine position sometimes stirs up conflict in any school headed by female administrator.

Thus, it is evident in school system that conflicts are inevitable in a natural and a normal development of the school administration. Due to its inevitable nature, Greenberg & Baron (2000), suggested that school administrators must learn to manage conflict rather than attempt to thwart or eliminate it.

Conflict as a concept has a plethora of definitions because of different opinions held about it. Szilagyi (2000), defined conflict as a disagreement between two or more organizational members concerning the manner to be used to achieve certain goals. Gray & Starke (2001), saw conflict as a behaviour by a person or group that is purposefully designed to block the attainment of goals by another person or group. While Peretomode, (1997), defined conflict as struggle for control of another person’s behaviour, doing or action. Ezegbe, (1997) opined that conflict refers to struggles, contradictions, mutual hostility in inter human relationship. However, conflict is a clear indication that something is wrong with the organization and that sound principles are not being applied in managing the activities of the organizations.

Types of conflicts include;

1.      Intrapersonal conflict. This occurs within the person. Examples of such conflicts are conflicts that emerge over the use of equipments in the school, choice of topic for research projects, choice of spouse, moral questions, low self esteem, poor financial status.

2.      Interpersonal conflicts are conflicts between two or more people. It can result when values, beliefs and attitude do not fit together, for example, conflict between the principal of a school and the members of staff over the criteria for promotion of students at the end of a session.

3.      Real conflict occurs when goals or behaviours are incompatible because of struggle for power and resources.

4.      Artificial conflict is a type of conflict whereby an individual member in an organization believes he can gain respect within the group by lowering the credibility of another individual of the same group. (Burgon, Heston, & Mc Croskey, 1994).


Conflicts are seen in homes between parents and teenagers, in schools between students and school authorities, in work places between workers and supervisors, in communities over territories, resources control, power sharing to mention just a few. Sources of conflicts include differences in personality tracts, differences in background, differences in values, poor communication skills, differences in perceptions, differing view, points, emotions and attitudes. Ezenwa (1998), indicated that other sources of conflict in school includes; non involvement of teachers in decision making process, lateness to duty, formation of cliques by staff, poor discharge of duties and poor academic background of school administrators.

School conflict can also arise from the structure such as the size, location of institution – rural or urban, nature of work and gender composition.

Conflicts manifest in different forms. It can occur in form of insults, name calling, blackmailing, defamation of character, false accusation, withdrawal of love and support or services, withdrawal of salaries, strikes, suspension, sudden transfer, demotion, termination of appointments, violent demonstration, wars and killing (Ezegbe, 1997).


Conflicts have led to wars, dislocation of people and loss of lives and property. Greed, egoism and desire to have power over others are humanity worst enemies. In some way, they are at the root of every conflict (Pope John Paul II, 2001). All over the world, conflict has caused misery and suffering to millions of people. According to UNDP (2002) during the 16 years of civil war in Mozambique, more than 40% of the schools and health clinics were destroyed or forced to close down. The economic loss caused by the war in Mozambique was estimated at $ 15 billion.

Conflict has its merits and demerits. For an administrator, conflict handled with wisdom can help him make effective decisions. This is because the dissenting opinions will expose different aspects of the problem at hand. A judgment made after a careful consideration of these opinions is likely to be an effective one. However, whenever people gather for any purpose there is bound to be disagreement. In the school setting not all disagreements are conflicts but all conflicts result from disagreements (Mbipom &         Okon 2003). The success of any school organization therefore depends on the ability of the school administrator to resolve the conflicts arising from disagreements within the school system. The administrator’s efforts at achieving the set objectives of the National Policy on Education will be hindered if he is unable to manage his teacher and pupils well so as to reduce conflicts when they arise.

According to, (Ezegbe 1997) conflicts in any organization can be managed effectively using the following methods;

1.                  Dialogue. This is calling the conflicting parties in a disputes to express their grievances and thus free their mind of grudges and bitterness.

2.                  Arbitration is a process of bringing in a peacemaker to settle the problem.
3.                  Confrontation is the use of force or debate by the two opposing parties to solve their problems.
4.                  Separation device as the name implies involves separating the two opposing individuals by transfer, to another section of the organization.

5.                  Super ordinate goal is involving the conflicting parties in the interrelated work thereby forcing them to have a better relationship as they work together.

6.                  Prayer is another way to managing conflicts. The problems can be taken to God in prayers and He will effect a lasting solution to any conflict.


7.                  Empathy involves putting oneself into the feeling of others. Ability to sense the distress of another person decreases the tendency to hurt him and would easily elicit apologies to sooth ill feelings. Thus nipping the conflict in the bud.

For teacher-role performance to be effective, school administrators should be versed in conflict management strategies and apply any of them to solve individual teachers or group conflicts based on the situation it best fits. In addition, school administrator should initiate healthy communication, maintain peace, remain accountable to the people he serves, demonstrate forgiveness, train staff and students as mediators, encourage reconciliation and maintain confidentiality.

Conflicts are inherent and inevitable in any human organization. The existence and prevalence of such conflicts and their traumatic effects on educational institutions demand that emerging conflicts should be controlled to maximize productivity and for the education system to achieve its aims and objectives. This underscores the needs to find the means of resolving conflicts before they get out of hand.


Statement of the Problem
There is a growing concern about conflicts in schools and the society today. The issue of aggressive behaviours and bullying in primary schools is alarming. There is need that conflicts be managed constructively in order not to escalate and consequently interfere with the learning process and playground harmony. Teacher actions at a classroom and school level have an important influence on student conflict management. Over the ages, the government, administrators and religious bodies have been encountering a lot of conflicts.

There is a general impression that conflict in schools is on the increase (Onwurah, 1995). Sometimes people blame the government, administrators, head teachers for their inability to control conflict situations in schools. Many researchers have written works on the causes and implications of conflicts in schools. For example, Onwurah (1995) pointed out that schools nowadays are more involved in conflict than in the past. Little or nothing has been written on how conflict is resolved or managed in primary schools especially in Awka Education Zone of Anambra State.


As a school teacher, it was observed that many a times, the pupils have constant quarrel with one another. The disagreements which the pupils have at play grounds often times are not settled, and these are carried into the classroom during lesson, which in turn disturb the teaching and learning processes in the classroom. The teacher who might not have known that such problems existed will be busy teaching only to be distracted by noise in the classroom. This makes the teacher unhappy and the teaching and learning process in the classroom negatively impacted.

Effective management of conflict in the school setting would go along way to improve teaching and learning. The question is how are conflicts handled in our primary schools? Thus, the statement of a problem as a question: What are the conflicts management strategies in use in primary schools in Anambra State?

Purpose of the Study
The main aim of this study is to determine how conflicts are managed or handled in primary schools by head teachers, teachers and pupils. The study is specially designed to:


1.            Identify the methods used by head teachers in managing conflicts between teacher and teacher.
2.            Identify the methods used by teachers in managing conflicts between pupils and pupil.
3.            Identify the methods used by pupils in managing conflicts among themselves.
4.                  Determine how teachers perceive the conflict management skills of their head teachers.

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may lead the policy and curriculum planning experts to include as one of the content areas: conflict management in the primary schools’ teacher preparation curriculum.

The research findings when published can be used to help pupils know effective means of handling conflicts and thus promote their social and interpersonal relationship. The findings of this study may also help to enhance the effectiveness of the head teachers and teachers as conflict managers. The research findings may enhance the school administrators and guidance counselors’ effectiveness in conflict management.


The findings may add to the wealth of knowledge on how to carry out conflict management strategies effectively in primary schools.

The Scope of the Study
The study was delimited to the study of conflicts management strategies in use in primary schools in Anambra State. The variables covered by the study are; conflict management strategies which head teachers used. Conflict management used by teacher. Conflict management strategies that pupils used. The influence of the variable, ‘gender’ and ‘school location’ (i.e urban-rural factor) were also examined.

Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study.

1.            What are the methods used by head teachers in management conflicts between teachers?
2.            What are the methods used by teachers in managing conflicts among pupils?
3.            What are the strategies used by pupils in managing conflicts between themselves?
4.            What are the teachers views on the conflict management techniques of their head teachers?


Hypotheses
The under-listed null hypotheses were tested at the 0.05 level of significance. These are:
1.            There is no significant difference in the mean rating of head teachers in urban and rural schools concerning conflict management strategies they use in managing conflicts between teachers.
2.            There is no significant difference in the mean rating, of teachers in urban and rural school concerning conflict management strategies they use in managing conflicts among pupils.
3.            There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female pupils concerning conflict management strategies they use in managing conflicts amongst themselves.
4.            There is no significant difference in mean ratings of teachers in urban and rural schools concerning conflict management techniques of their head teacher.

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 102 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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