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Background of the Study

In every organization, like the school, conflict is very inevitable and must be resolved for the organization to achieve her objectives. There is no school which does not experience conflict at some time or another as part of daily interactions. Conflict occurs when people or groups are engaged in competition to meet goals which are perceived to be incompatible.

Conflict is viewed as a human and social phenomenon in the school environment which brings about hostility and prevents progress. Conflict, according to Imhabekhai (2000), connotes a product of disagreement between or among individuals or groups in an organization or, in a society over allocation or distribution of resources which are relatively scarce to the demand for them. Conflict is an open disagreement between two people or groups of people who have different values. According to Ikejiani-Clark (2007), conflict is natural and inevitable part of people working together, sharing diverse thoughts, concerns, perspectives and goals.  According to Nye (2004), 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, greediness as well as sociological, political, cultural, psychological and religious motives.

According to Udomo (2010) conflict is disagreement and misunderstanding between two parties concerning issues.  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


Zwei (1997) gives a comprehensive idea of conflict situation when he explains that a conflict is a major disagreement that generates antagonism and oppositions in the relationships between persons, groups and organization.  It occurs when some persons, because of differences, interfere with, in terms of obstructions, counteraction or opposition, the attainment of the goals and interest of others.

By a single word definition, conflict means, a fight, battle, struggle, sharp disagreement or opposition. Conflict enables an individual or groups to reassure their priorities. Fadipe (2000) defines conflict as a form of disagreement in an establishment between two individuals or groups who have cause to interact formally or informally. He further adds that when two or more people who work together in an organization are not in good terms, especially in matters that relate directly or indirectly to their work schedules, there is conflict.

All the definitions presented above specify that: there must be a group, there must be some contest over an interest and there must be disagreement. There must also be opposition or disharmony in the struggle between or among the groups or parties. This means therefore that in conflict there must be a group/party, not a single individual.  Conflict therefore connotes a situation where there are two or more parties whose interest clash or goals appear to be incompatible.

Secondary schools are educational institutions where students are exposed to various educational programmes for acquisition of knowledge and also for the well-being of their communities. In secondary schools, various types of personnel are involved. These include the principals, the teachers, students, non – teaching staff and even the communities. The principal administers the secondary school and it is his/her responsibility to provide and maintain a healthy academic environment.

One of the greatest tasks of a principal in the secondary school is the management of conflicts between a principal and teachers who implement the instructional programmes of the school. Effective and efficient secondary school administration has relationship with the ability of a principal to manage conflict. In an organization such as secondary school, people find themselves in various kinds of conflicts either as a result of their birth or religious beliefs or way of life-culture.

In the secondary schools   for example, teachers may resort to boycott  of classes, quarrels with the principal or refusal to carry out assigned tasks. Others may resort to physical aggression, and defiance. All these do mar the achievement of the objectives of the secondary school. Ezegbe (1997) lamented that conflicts between principals and teachers are capable of causing administrative inefficiency, fighting, breakdown in teaching and learning process, indiscipline among staff and students, and a general failure in the delivery of education. It equally appears that conflicts tend to question the administrative competence of the principals thereby undermining the hierarchy of authority and channels of command in the affected schools.

According to Beggy (2003), conflict is part and parcel of the school and the school cannot shy away from it, because it is experienced daily in the teaching and learning process. It is demanded of the principal to use his personal characteristics to proffer plausible solutions to grievances that emanate as a result of conflict among the school personnel so that the school goals and objectives will not be hindered.

The principal’s experience can be linked to the way conflict is managed in the school in order to achieve the school goals and objectives.

According to Bass (2003), principals with longer experience perform better than their other colleagues with less experience when it comes to resolving conflicts within the school. The gender of the school administrator is very important in the secondary schools administration. A significant relationship exists between principal’s sex and conflict management in secondary schools.

Likert (1999) submitted that male principals perform more effectively and efficiently in conflict management in an organization than female counterparts.

Conflict may be as a result of decision-making process, conflict by nature changes over time. Whenever a group cannot accomplish set goals or complete a task, the group members’ experience frustration, then those involved may perceive that conflict exists and formulate ideas about conflict issue.

Decision Making has been characterized as one of the major responsibilities of educational administrators or policy makers (Ogbannaya, 2002). It is simply the process of choosing from among alternative ways of providing a solution to a problem. There are three types of decisions namely: Intermediary decision, Appellate decisions and Creative decisions.

Intermediary decisions do not originate from the school administrator, rather, they are decisions delegated to him by superior officers in the administrative hierarchy. Appellate decisions are the decisions which subordinates, examples, provost of a college of education refers matters to the National Commission for Colleges of Education for their disposition. Creative decisions are those concerned with improving some aspect of education such as curricular programmes, admission policies, and in-service education programmes.

Conflict may be caused by competition for inadequate resources, contradicting value system, manipulation of information and perception.

Conflict is part of a school because teachers have varying ideas about issues, they have different backgrounds and their experiences are different. These differences cause so much damage to the school if they are not well managed. School administrators are managers and they should be able to manage conflict effectively rather than suppress or avoid them.

The principal’s qualification will contribute a long way in conflict management in the secondary schools. A principal’s qualification is a good determinant of how he or she manages conflict in the school system. Yolk (2010) observed that principals with higher qualifications tend to perform better in conflict management in the secondary schools. The nature and types of conflicts that occur in secondary schools 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.

Conflict which lies on the shoulder of an administrator between opposing motives or ideas is shown by it’s “internal dialogue” and is at the intra-personal level. The primary concern here is with the social conflict, that is, conflict between people and organization whether they are acting as individuals, as members, as groups, or as representatives of organizations or nations (Okeibunor and Anugnom, 2002). Interpersonal conflict occurs when two or more people have incompatible needs, goals, or approach in their relationship.

Communication breakdown is often seen as an important source of interpersonal conflict and learning communication skills is valuable in preventing and resolving such difficulties.           Inter-group conflict occurs between groups of people such as ethnic or racial groups, departments or levels of decision making in the same organization, union and management. Competition for scare resources is a common source of inter-group conflict in less disruptive ways. According to Fisher (2000), social-psychological processes are very important in inter-group conflict, group members tend to develop stereotypes (oversimplified negative beliefs) of the opposing group tends to blame them for their own problems (scape-goat), and practices dissemination against them.

The common conflicts observable in secondary schools usually occur between the students on the one hand and the school authority on the other hand. The conflict that arise in secondary school system could be attributed to such factors as lack of effective communication network, inadequate resources, unconducive atmosphere or the working environment generally, management style, leadership style, and disagreement over goals.

Conflicts are inherent and inevitable in any human organization, including the educational system. The inevitability of conflict was also established by Kerzner (1998) when he asserted that conflict is part of change and therefore inevitable. Conflict is inevitable and often good. For example, a good team always go through a “form, storm, norm and perform” period. Getting the most out of divert means often contradicts values, perspectives and opinions (Mc Namara, 2007). However, the existence and prevalence of such conflict and their traumatic effects cannot be ignored or allowed to linger. It should be controlled and resolved because when hostility is not managed, the effect is disharmony and lack of peace.

According to Oputa (2003), peace advances development, growth and progress. Peace is order, peace is brotherhood and peace is life itself. This is to say that when conflicts are allowed to linger on, no matter at what level, the school will not be able to achieve its aims and objectives and develop as expected even with the highest quality of staff and infrastructure. Hence, unrestricted and unresolved conflict is dysfunctional to any organization. Generally, conflicts in secondary schools inhibit progress, growth and development.

Therefore, the importance of peaceful environment in the secondary schools cannot be over emphasized. For secondary schools to function effectively and achieve their goals and objectives, there must be peaceful co-existence and a conducive teaching and learning atmosphere. The principal as the administrator alone cannot bring about the desired peace and also perform his other administrative functions effectively. Conflicts areas that apply to principals and teachers arise due to such action as appointment done not based on merit and academic competence, non-involvement of staff subordinates and peers in decision making process; insensitivity and compelling staff and subordinates to implement decisions which they do not participate in their formulation, among many others. Considering the fact that the success of the principal in the achievement of school objectives and goals solely depends on the teachers’ cooperation and understanding to develop the school programmes, there is need to manage this conflict in order to achieve success.

This situation demands that teachers and principals should work as a team rather than spending precious time and energy in formenting conflicts which most often impede the achievement of goals. This informs the researcher’s interest to investigate the administrative conflict between the principals and teachers in secondary schools in Udi Education Zone in Enugu State.


Statement of the Problem    

Conflict has become major obstacle to personnel productivity and the realization of national objectives and in particular in the educational system. Employees in the education sector have many a time in recent times embarked on strikes to press home their demands for improved conditions of service and regular payments of salaries, professionalization of teaching, establishment of national commission for secondary schools and teaching service commission at state levels.

Conflicts seem to abound in secondary schools in Udi Education Zone. There was a reported case of breakdown in teaching and learning at the Girl’s Secondary School, Ngwo arising from misunderstanding between the principal and teachers on how to share their lesson money, the percentage that should go to the mission and the percentage to go to the teachers. Teachers in the school had also revolted against their principal in October 2012 accusing the principal of high handedness in the administration of the school.

Another conflict occured at Christ High School, Obioma, where the school principal had some problems with the teachers. The principal accused the male teachers of being commercial drivers while their female counter parts are traders in the open markets even during the school hours. Many teachers in Nigeria are ‘cheaters’ because they collect salaries for the work they did not do.

At the Community Secondary School, Nsude another conflict is going on between the principal and the teachers over the issue of selling things on their table during the school hours. In other words, staff common room are now mini-shops where all sorts of jewelries, shoes and clothes are sold by teachers. To worsen the situation, many teachers make use of students, particularly the female, to sell items in schools thus impeding their learning in schools.

At times, conflicts in schools are as a result of conflict from the society or the school community, unwillingness on the part of the government to honor agreements jointly entered in to by government and unions. For instance, in 1992/93 there was a national strike from October 8, 1992 to January 29, 1993 (114 days) over the demand for teachers’ salary structure (TSS) and professionalization of teaching. Efforts have been made in the past to foster peace by school authorities, the government, unions, and the students which most often ended up in dead luck.

All these conflicts either within the educational sector or the society at large have often times paralyzed society, economic and educational activities. No matter how, or the forms they come, they are conflicts since they disrupt activities. Against this back ground, therefore, the problem of this study put in questions form is what can be responsible for the conflicts in Secondary Schools in Udi Education zone and what conflict management strategies can be adopted by the principals to curtail them?


Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate administrative conflicts between principals and teachers in post primary schools in Udi Education Zone in Enugu State.

Specifically, the study sought to:-

  1. Identify the causes of administrative conflicts between principals and

teachers in the secondary schools in Udi Education Zone.

  1. Ascertain how the non-involvement of teachers in decision making results to conflict in Udi Education Zone.
  2. Ascertain the extent principals’ qualifications results to conflict in secondary schools in Udi Education Zone.
  3. Ascertain how gender of the school principal leads to conflict in the secondary schools in Udi Education Zone.
  4. Ascertain the conflict management strategies adopted by the principals in the secondary schools.


Significance of the Study

Theoretically, this study is anchored on the social conflict theory. Social conflict theory sees conflict as naturally emanating from interactions among individuals and groups, and since social interaction is imbued with positive attributes, conflict cannot be totally negative. Social conflict theory is of the notion that genuine peace or consensus without conflict is hardly possible. This is in consonance with the study since conflict is a natural phenomenon and also inevitable in human society or any organization.

Practically, the findings of this study will be of great significance secondary school principals, teachers, students, educational administrators and planners, SUBEB, PPSMB, Ministry of Education, and Governments.

For the secondary school principals, the findings will provide the principals with appropriate information regarding strategies for conflict management which would assist them in the running of their schools. It will also provide principals and teachers alike with the appropriate opportunity to see themselves as partners in progress. The study will expose the principals on the proper application of conflict management strategies for effective administration.

To the teachers, it is hoped that this study will help the teachers of secondary schools to realize that they have vital roles to play in order to manage conflict in their schools, and as well provide the greater knowledge and awareness of the need and techniques of fostering life – long cooperation, understanding and friendliness wherever they find themselves. The findings of this study are expected to be beneficial to school administrators because when they get to know the strategies to apply in conflict management they can avert or thwart conflict when such cases arise. As this will give the school administrators time for other administrative works.

To the students, this study will to provide vital information about conflict and its consequences on the students. This will make them to be morally disciplined and obey the rules and regulations governing the schools.

To the educational administrators and planners, the findings of this study will be of great importance as it will expose them to understand and appreciate the causes of conflicts in secondary schools as well put them into consideration and bearing that in mind while planning educational programmes for the schools.

Finally, the findings of this study are also expected to be valuable to the Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB), ministries of education and the government at all levels in reducing and averting conflicts that have to do with non-satisfaction of human needs and un-conducive teaching and learning atmosphere by making sure that the teachers’ needs are adequately and timely met. This will help the school management to determine suitable ways of dealing with conflicts in the educational sector and government ministries especially the ministry of education, Science and Technology in their bid to deal with conflicts in schools and improve the education