Factors influencing student leaders' involvement in governance of public secondary schools in Mwala district, Kenya
Mule, Joyce M
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Mwala District in Kenya has in the past experienced a number of indiscipline issues among the secondary school students. The students raised > various grievances, one among them being, failure to involve students in decision making on matters affecting them in the schools (DEO's reports 2008-2011). Students also showed concern in the manner in which their schools were being mismanaged and discipline issues were handled. Principals were accused of high handedness and giving a deaf ear to the student cries. Following these complaints, the researcher embarked on studying how principals involved students in governance in secondary schools in the district. The study sought to find out the principal and school factors that influence student leaders' involvement in secondary school governance. The purpose of the study was to investigate the factors influencing student leaders' involvement in secondary school governance in Mwala District. To realize the purpose of the study, the following objectives were formulated: i) To establish the relationship between the principals' level of education on student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. ii) To assess the influence of principals' administrative experience on student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. iii) To determine the influence that school category has on student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. . iv) To determine the influence of school type on student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. v) To examine the interventions that could be employed to strengthen student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. From the objectives, four null hypotheses were generated for the study. The study assumed that all principals were aware of the importance of participatory school management as a way of governance. Incorporation of stakeholders in decisionmaking goes a long way in creating an enabling environment for learning and realizing organizational effectiveness. The study was guided by the path-goal theory that postulates that subordinates behaviour is motivated and influenced by their leader. Student leaders are motivated to carry out their duties by the principal who directs and influences their attainment of both school and individual goals. Descriptive survey design was used to determine the factors influencing student leaders' involvement in governance of public secondary schools in Mwala District. A stratified sampling, simple random sampling and purposive sampling techniques were used to select 17 principals and 255 student leaders giving a total sample size of 272 respondents from secondary schools in Mwala District, Kenya. To avoid a sampling error and ascertain a good representation, the sample size was made slightly above the 30% recommended for such a study. The data collection instruments were principals' and student leaders' questionnaires analyzed using inferential statistical techniques in SPSS. Questionnaires enabled the researcher to collect information from a relatively large sample in a short period. The instruments reliability was done through splithalf technique. Pearson's correlation coefficient gave reliability of 0.74 for students and 0.89 for principals. After the supervisors' approval of the questionnaires, a permit was sought from the National Council for Science and Technology. The researcher then visited all the sampled schools and collected the data from the respondents. This was done with the consent of the DEO and the principals. It was found that there was no significant difference between principals' educational level and student leaders' involvement in governance in secondary schools in Mwala District. This means that all the principals across the sampled schools involved students in school governance issues to the same extent irrespective of their age. The results further indicated that there was no significant difference between level of students' involvement in school governance and principals' administrative experience, meaning administrative experience does not influence principals' involvement of students in school governance. The result was in line with Gitobu (2007), who realized that professional experience of principals did not influence their involvement of students in school governance. ANOVA results revealed that the level of students' involvement in school governance vary significantly with the school category (F=4.71, Sig=0.05). Principals in provincial schools were as likely to Involve students differently from their counterparts in district schools. This means that the bigger school population in terms of student enrolment i.e. provincial, the higher the category of the school, the more the stakeholders are involved in governance. A myriad of activities to handle in bigger schools necessitates greater involvement of human resource to assist in administration. Likewise, it was noted that, whether the school was single sex or mixed, the level of students' involvement in governance in school did not vary significantly; implying that single or mixed sex school does not affect the student leaders' involvement in school governance. Thus, only school category factor was found to have a significant influence on student leaders' involvement in school governance. From the study, findings showed that student leaders are excluded from governance and are not trained in their responsibilities. Most principals supported the idea of sending student leaders for workshops, seminars and talks on various leadership areas. Student involvement could be strengthened by building capacity through training to empower students on involvement in school governance. Awareness creation among the students in regards to students' involvement in governance for students to understand that it's their right to participate. There is need for development of guidelines to guide students in goal setting and defining of the responsibilities of students' councils. The researcher recommends for awareness among principals and student leaders on the importance and benefits of participatory governance. This awareness could be enhanced through training. Students' involvement should be institutionalised in all secondary school initiatives.