Effects of Secondary school prefects' involvement in management of students discipline in Kitui Central District, Kenya
Musyoka, Patrick D
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The purpose of this study was to establish the influence of secondary school prefects' involvement in management on students' discipline in Kitui Central district. Five research objectives were formulated to guide the study; to identify forms hjof prefects' involvement in management and their effect on student discipline, to determine the extent to which prefects' effectiveness in their roles is influenced by mode of selection, induction practices, school responsibility and regularity of teacher-prefect conferences, and to determine whether significant differences exist between levels of student involvement based on school category, school type, and both the head teachers' age and gender. The study was guided by the Getzels and Guba (1957) Organizational theory postulated on the role theory based on analysis of human behaviour in the context of a social system. They conceived administration as structurally consisting of a hierarchy of superordinate-subordinate relationships which are both independent and interactive. This hierarchy is the basis for assigning roles and helps in achieving the goals of the organization, like assigning roles to secondary school prefects. The study used ex-post-facto design as it could not manipulate the antecedents being sought. The study targeted 23 public secondary schools in the district. Purposive sampling was used to get the sample comprising of 23 principals, 23 senior teachers and 115 senior prefects. These respondents were used as they were deemed more knowledgeable on matters of school administration than the other teachers and students. Data was gathered by use of questionnaires and analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods in frequency tables, pie charts, bar graphs and cross-tabulation. The validity of the questionnaires was checked by the project supervisors and piloting. The split-half method was used to test their reliability. The findings on the mode of selection of prefects revealed that in 92 percent of the schools the process was carried out jointly by both teachers and students. The main criterion used is good character (about 85 percent). Most of the prefects are then inducted into the prefects' body at varying levels of adequacy with 13 percent being given very adequate induction, 87 percent adequate induction and the remaining 9 percent inadequate induction. Prefects are more effective where induction is carried out by a group of teachers as a panel and not by one individual. The most common roles are such as making announcements during assembly (96%), supervising manuals (84%) and writing noise makers (71 %). Very important decisions like deciding the school menu and attending disciplinary meetings involving fellow students are mostly no-go zones for the prefects. All schools experience. discipline problems of varying magnitude. Girls' boarding schools have less discipline issues than other school types with 67% of them having highly disciplined students and 33% having disciplined students. Mixed day schools have average discipline (8% have highly disciplined students and 92% have disciplined students) and boys' boarding schools are most indisciplined (75% of the students are disciplined and 25% indisciplined). Students in provincial schools are more disciplined (44% highly disciplined) and more involved in decision making than those in district schools (7% are rated as highly disciplined and 7% are indisciplined). The category of the school influences the discipline of the students. A majority of schools (70%) hold teacher-prefect conferences in which the main agenda is discussion of general discipline and student welfare, The conferences make the prefects more effective. Young (30-39 years) and old head teachers (above 50 years) engage their prefects more (50% of each) in decision making than do middle aged head teachers (33%), with male head teachers (42%) more likely to involve them than their female counterparts (38%). It is in their middle age when the head teachers are trying to experiment to find out which options and ideas are more workable than others when it comes to involvement of other stakeholders in decision making. From these findings, it is recommended that all public secondary schools should involve students while selecting prefects from the students' body. The schools should set aside enough time and resources to effectively and efficiently induct the prefects for them to be able to carry out their roles well. Resource persons who are well informed should be invited to talk to the prefects in induction and the school should give enough support to the process. It is very important for prefects to be given all the necessary guidance and practical lessons which is intended to prepare them for their demanding role. The role of the prefect should not be just the traditional one but should include involvementin the formulation of new school rules and programmes and any other administrative changes affecting the students. This makes the students to be bound by the decisions they have helped arrive at and gives them room to air their views. It makes them feel appreciated and important besides bridging the gap between the students and the administration.