Factors influencing principals' choice of strategy for conflict management in secondary schools in Central Division, Machakos county, Kenya
Musau, Catherine Ngina
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Education is a tool for development while conflict hinders development if poorly managed. It is in this view that this study sought to research on the factors that influence the choice of strategy used by principals for conflict management in secondary schools in Central Division, Machakos County, Kenya and more specifically to the main objectives which were; to determine the extend to which the working environment, training management skills and the involvement of stakeholders influence the choice of strategy used by principals for conflict management, as well as the relationship of the principal's attributes and the choice of strategy used for conflict management with a view of answering significant questions generated from the research objectives. The study was modeled on conflict mode instrument grid by Thomas Kilman (1974,2007). The study adopted a conceptual framework to support the theory. The study used descriptive research design. The target population was all public secondary schools in Machakos central division the sample size was 102 respondents from 10 sample schools. Schools were stratified into mixed day, Boys, Girls boarding schools and into zones, schools were picked randomly in their strata proportionately. Education officers, principals, deputy principals and H.O.Ds were arrived at purposively while the teachers were picked randomly. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview schedules. The instruments were tested for validity and reliability. The data collected was summarized and represented in tables and graphs and further analyzed using descriptive analysis and inferential procedures. The descriptive analysis procedures included frequencies, percentages and means while inferential procedures included the Pearson Correlation Coefficient . Conclusion drawn showed that the working environment, training management skills, the involvement of stakeholders and the principal's personal attributes influenced the choice of strategy used by principals for conflict management. Recommendations were made for the improvement of the practice based on findings. Principals and school authorities should make deliberate efforts to involve all the working environments, and establish channels of communication through which teachers, students and other stakeholders can provide their views, suggestions and feedback on conflict management. Principals should be encouraged to adopt the collaboration strategy for conflict management since it calls for team working involving all stake holders and create a learning environment for all in conflict management. The ministry of education should hold regular in-service courses for principals and other stakeholders to show them the importance of their involvement in conflict management. Constant conflict management trainings should be held for teachers since they do always influence any decisions that the principal makes. The guidance and counseling departments should be strengthened and books on guidance and counseling bought, seminars from key resource persons should be encouraged to empower teachers and students in conflict management. The ministry of education should consider personal attributes of principals during promotions such as teaching experience. Suggestions for further studies include: a study into conflict management strategies used by principals in secondary schools in different areas in the country, a study into relationship between involvement of students and teachers in conflict management and the frequency of school conflicts. A study into relationship between involvement of students in conflict management in secondary schools and school academic performance. A study into whether Parents Teachers' Associations (PTA's) are important in conflict management. It was thought that the research findings added to the existing knowledge of education especially in conflict management and far much assists the country in achieving the vision 2030, EF A Goals and the Millennium Development Goals.