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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.
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 betwee
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