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Background of the Study

The success of any organisation be it educational institution or production industry largely depends on the ability to manage the organization efficiently by those in charge that are normally experienced, capable and competent in organizational management. Federal Government Colleges are secondary schools commonly referred to as Federal Unity Colleges for which principals are the managers. Secondary education as defined by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the National Policy on Education (2009) “is the edu cation that children receive after primary and before tertiary education.” In the same manner, Oshunniyi (2011) stated that secondary education is the formal education given to children and adolescence which bridges the gap between the primary and tertiary education.

Secondary education has two broad goals; the preparation of an individual for useful living within the society and for higher education. Nweke (2009) in his study stated that there are four categories of secondary schools in Nigeria; these are Federal Government Colleges that are managed by the Federal Ministry of Education; Government Secondary Schools that are managed by states government; Mission secondary schools that are owned and managed by the church; and Private secondary schools which are owned and managed by individuals and organizations. This study is focused on Federal Government Colleges which are managed by the Federal Ministry of Education.



The need to use school as an instrument for strengthening the bond of unity, patriotism and love for our country among the youths of diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria prompted government’s decision to establish inter-regional secondary schools named Federal Unity Colleges now Federal Government Colleges, with a common motto of Pro Unitate meaning (For Unity). The colleges admit students based on merit, quota and catchment areas or environmental basis from all parts of the federation. These students speak different languages, belong to different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, having opportunity to work, play, live and grow together, learn to tolerate one another, thereby developing a horizon of a truly united Nigeria (Adeseun, 2009). Federal Government Colleges are secondary schools conceived with a view of instilling high quality education in the students and creating an environment of solid academic and developmental excellence. Presently, there are 104 Federal Government Colleges in the country and their objectives according to Zwingina (2009) include; to advance the course of national integration and unity, promote academic excellence in secondary education, serve as a model for state and other private schools, serve as centers for testing and refining federal government

policies on education and to widen access to learning. The Federal Ministry of Education is the proprietor of the colleges and her vision statement for the colleges is, ‘To achieve qualitative education for national development’, while the mission statement is; ‘To e xcel in morals and academics’ (Wike, 2011). The above vision and mission statements suggest the importance of


managerial functions of the principals in Federal Government Colleges. It is the principal’s responsibility to ensure that necessary values are inculcated in the students through proper guidance, appropriate supervision and monitoring of all the school activities. This brings into focus the unique responsibilities of Principals in managing human and material resources in the schools to achieve the specific goals.

The planning, co-ordination and integration of human and material resources to achieve stated objectives in an organization is referred to as management. According to Anaekwe (2002) management is the process of planning, organizing, leading, directing and controlling the efforts of members and the use of resources in order to achieve stated organizational goals. Bateman and Snell (2003) contended that management requires structuring the organization, staffing it with capable people and monitoring their activities. This implies collaborative endeavor such as creating vision or setting the direction, inspiring people to attain the vision, moving the organization towards its ideal future and motivating them to overcome the problems in the schools. In this study, the managerial functions of the principals were investigated to find out the extent to which the principals are competent for effective management of the colleges.

Competency is the sum of the experiences, knowledge, skills, values and attitudes acquired during the course of doing the work. It is the ability to perform adequately in one’s field and it shows how effective and efficient we are in the performance of our duties. Competency according to Houston (2001) is the


minimum level of awareness, understanding and perfection which an individual or a professional must achieve in order to be rated successful, effective and efficient. Relating to school organization, Houston specifically stated that competency is the tasks, skills, attitudes, values and appreciation that are deemed critical to the successful management and coordination of the school affairs.

Basic competencies are defined as knowledge and skills essential for the performance of a manager’s job. They are related to specific tasks and guaranteed manager’s personal efficiency. High performance competencies are relatively stable manifestations of behavior and are further subdivided into cognitive, motivational, directional and performance competencies. The ability of the manager to provide sound skills for effective administration of the school programs is referred to as high managerial competency. Cranston (2002) defined high managerial competency as the ability to be efficient in the management of a duty to achieve the desired goals and to provide sound basis for effective administration.

In North Central Nigeria, Federal government Colleges could be managerially competent to a very high extent through proper coordinating and controlling of the affairs of the schools. This also involves demonstrating their abilities through efficient supervision of instruction in the classrooms, managing of human and material resources to achieve the mission and vision of Federal Government Colleges. Principals’ knowledge and skills should be developed to


match with their planned activities in an organization and their competencies are based on their recognizable activities.

Managerial competencies are the knowledge, skills and attitudes that can also be acquired through experience and training by the managers who are professionals in their different fields of study. The acquired level of competency inspires principals to function in an organization efficiently. This could be done by demonstrating their abilities through efficient supervision of instruction in the classroom, managing human and material resources to achieve the mission and vision of the school. The operational definition of managerial competencies is the ability of the manager to effectively employ necessary skills in management of human and material resources to achieve the stated goals of the institution. This study specifically investigated the extent of the effect of managerial skill on principals in five areas of management namely supervision of instruction, personnel management, financial management, school plant maintenance and school-community relationship.

Supervision of instruction is the ability of the principals and federal evaluators to adequately monitor the activities of the teachers in the classrooms, advising and stimulating the interest of teachers and students through checking the teacher’s actual teachings, classroom management and the use of instructional materials. This also involves the use of expert knowledge and experience to manage, evaluate and co-ordinate the process of improving teaching and learning


activities in schools. Principals could be competent in supervision of instruction by inspecting the teachers in the classrooms as they teach their lessons, inspecting their lesson plans and notes and providing instructional materials for effective teaching and learning to take place.

Staff personnel management involves principal’s communication, consultations, persuasions, delegations and motivation of staff personnel in the schools to achieve good working relationship. Principals could be competent in staff personnel management through effective inter-personal relationship such as proper communication and motivation.

Financial management is the ability of the principals to manage the school’s finance through planning, budgeting, coordinating, controlling and accounting for all the expenditures in the schools. Management of schools’ fund is the duty of the principals who are the accounting officers of the schools. Their managerial competencies could be displayed through prudent and effective management of school funds by being sure that principals do not spend money meant for a particular vote for another.

School-plant maintenance is the ability of the principals to maintain the structures and facilities that will improve teaching and learning in schools. This includes principal’s maintenance of school buildings, furniture, school environment such as the surrounding, fields, beautification and ornamentation of the school compound with flowers, hedges and lawns. The aim is to ensure that the school


environment is clean, attractive and conducive for learning and that the buildings, equipment and facilities are adequately maintained. Principals could show their competency in school plant maintenance by effectively rehabilitating the structures, repairing the facilities and making the schools habitable for effective teaching and learning to take place.

School-community relationship is the ability of the principals to communicate with the community by intimating them on happenings in the schools. This, the principals could do through the involvement of the School Based Management Committees and the Parent-Teacher Association who links the schools with community. Principals could be managerially competent by assisting the communities in their various needs to solve their problems and the community could also solve the needs of the schools.

The principals’ managerial competencies are embedded in the outcome of the functions that they performed in the schools. These skills will enhance principal’s functions in school management if effectively implemented. Principals are to ensure that the teachers teach their lessons in line with the current trends, especially in information communication technology and e-learning. This is so, as the world is currently becoming technologically advanced and students need to be current in the new developments. The school as a place where the individual develops different competences, such as, the definition of self and others, development of friendships, and where group cohesion is nurtured, needs to utilize


all available skills to ensure that students acquire the desired goals. Principals should employ good strategies for the overall success in management of schools.

Federal Government Colleges admit students by conducting common entrance and interview examinations in different states of the federation. The catchment based admission gives children from poor educational background and backward states the opportunity to be admitted into the model colleges. Federal Government Colleges are comprehensive colleges with few Federal Science and Technical Colleges. The schools are co-educational while some are single gender colleges, so there is need to have principals with high managerial competencies’ abilities for efficiency. Such principals will be capable of managing the schools to realize the goals and objectives of the schools, in line with the visions and missions of the Federal Ministry of Education. As model secondary schools they are expected to set the pace that others will emulate. Federal government Colleges should be managerially competent in management to a very high extent so as to live up to both international and national expectations. These colleges are expected to be of world class standards, where the graduates should be worthy both in character and in learning. They should excel in competitive examinations such as West African Senior Secondary School Examinations (WASSSE), National Examination Council (NECO) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Examination. The graduates should also excel in Post University Matriculation Examinations (PUME) and other international examinations such as


Cambridge International Examinations, Royal Conservatory of Music Examinations, Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL). The foregoing requires principals who can achieve the goals of the colleges. Consequently the extent of effect of managerial skill on Federal Government College Principals in North Central, Nigeria where this study is focused need to be high for effectiveness in administration.

The administrative team in each Federal Government College is made up of one principal, three vice- principals and head of departments who are also teachers. Some vice-principals perform dual functions because they teach and at the same time perform some administrative duties. Appointment as a principal is based on quota system but not on experiences as a management staff, merit or seniority. The principals are responsible for the day to day administration of their schools. Consequently the extent of their managerial competencies becomes very imperative. To be effective and competent in school management, principals had to be experienced in their different fields of studies and more importantly in educational management. How well a person performs a new task may depend on the previous experience with similar tasks (Mazur, 2009). Most of the principals are promoted to the position of principals based on their current ability as teachers instead of their managerial competencies. It is believed that they are likely to gain managerial competencies by and by. How true are these? And how competent are these principals by and by? Being a good teacher does not guarantee managerial


abilities need to perform as principals, and the level of managerial competencies acquired at the various levels of training might not be adequate for actual practical management of the colleges especially in professional areas such as supervision of instruction, personnel management, financial management, school plant maintenance and school-community relationship.

Federal Government Colleges are located both in rural and urban areas of the country and in different parts of Nigeria: North-East, North-West, North - Central, South-South, South-East and South-West. However, the colleges under study are in North Central geo-political zone with most of them located in the rural areas. Unieboje, (2008) confirmed this by stating that Federal Government Colleges were not elitist in admission and location. That most of the schools are located in rural areas where students have the opportunities of interacting with the local communities, learn their languages and customs. The students in these Colleges came from diverse ethnic background. Thus the need for their principals to be highly managerially competent in desired areas. This will enable them to handle diverse issues that can arise from the different ethnicities and also ensure that the students outperform their states secondary schools’ counterparts.

Principals as school managers by virtue of their positions are accountable to the Ministry of Education for all the activities concerning the schools. Federal government Colleges are accountable to the Federal Ministry of Education thus the extent of their managerial competencies become very necessary.


A principal assigns duties to academics and non-teaching staff of the college and supervises them so that the objectives of the school can be achieved. The objective of bringing young Nigerian teenagers from multifarious ethnic and religious derides together includes instilling high quality education and achieving academic excellence, devoid of ethnic, religious and social stratification. This can be realized if the principals are, highly managerially competent (Adeseun, 2009). The efficient management of these institutions depends to a large extent on the level of effect of managerial skill on the principals who as chief executives and managers will implement the educational policies of the schools.

The quality results produced at the end of student’s academics and good morals observed among the graduates in the past years made people to have high confidence in Federal Government Colleges especially in schools in North Central Nigeria. Adeseun (2009) confirmed this by stating that past products of Federal Government Colleges were easily identified in Nigeria due to their vastness of knowledge across multiple disciplines and their spectrum of friends across ethnic devise, this he observed has suddenly disappeared. Most students of Federal Government Colleges no longer pass senior school certificate examinations (SSCE) without writing external General Certificate Examination (GCE) to complete the number of credits required for entry into the tertiary institutions. The academic results of students from Federal Government Colleges in North Central since 2002


had declined beyond average and this had affected admissions of students in the schools.

Despite Federal Ministry of Education’s efforts through training and re-training of principals to improve their managerial competencies, there are still evidence of poor academic performances of students, poor motivation of staff, poor maintenance of structures and facilities, mismanagement of school funds and poor relationship between the schools and the community among others. These problems prompted the ex-minister for education ‘Wike’ in 20 11 to visit some Federal Government Colleges especially in North Central Nigeria. He decried on the deplorable state of affairs in these colleges especially poor academic performance shown in Examination Council since 2002. This according to him has affected the standard of education in the country (Wike, 2011). (Appendix iii page 153). Previously Ezekwesili (2005) an ex-minister of education had lamented on the dilapidating and decaying state of structures and facilities in Federal Government Colleges such as unequipped laboratories and libraries.

The accusations of poor academic results of students in senior school certificate examinations since 2002, poor cordial relationship between principals and staff, mismanagement of school finance, dilapidating state of structures and facilities in Federal Government Colleges especially in North Central states obviously call for immediate attention. Are the principals in North Central Federal Government Colleges managerially competent? If so, to what extent are they


managerially competent to achieve the desired objectives and to meet the expectations of the students, parents, public and stakeholders? Currently parents are removing their wards from the schools to private schools where they believe the standard is better. The eagerness to get admission into Federal Government Colleges is no longer as it used to be. These problems prompted the researcher to develop a personal interest to investigate the effect of managerial skill on principals in the five most important areas of school administration namely: supervision of instruction, staff personal management, financial management, school-plant maintenance and school-community relationship.

Based on the literature reviewed, there was no evidence of study that were carried out on effect of managerial skill on Federal government Colleges in North Central. This study embraces major activities in school’s management, and will ascertain the validity of the accusations of the people on poor standards of affairs in Federal Government Colleges. Finally, within the field of educational administration and planning, this study will add to the pool of available data in the field. To fill these gaps this study on effect of managerial skill on federal government Colleges found its relevance.

Statement of the Problem

Federal Government Colleges were established in all the states in Nigeria including the states in North Central, Nigeria as an instrument for national integration and unity; also as model secondary schools and pride to all Nigerians.


There are a lot of expectations from graduates of these schools by the Nigerian public, especially in there excelling in different fields of endeavors. However, available data showed that these expectations are not being realized.

Results of most students from these schools including those from North Central, Nigeria have declined beyond average. This is evident in Senior School Certification Examinations (SSCE), conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) since 2002 (Federal Government Colleges Senior School Certificate Examination Result Analysis, see (appendix vi page 174)

The evidence of decline in academic performance of students is still there in spite of principals being in schools as the chief actors in managerial functions. Parents are withdrawing their wards from the Federal Government Colleges to send them to private schools. The passion to gain admission into Federal Government Colleges has declined as observed by the researcher. These problems are there despite Principals’ action as supervisors of instruction and involving of personnel in decision making. There is motivation of staff through in-service training such as workshop, seminars and conferences attendance. Emphasis on financial management, school plant maintenance, assisting the community and involving them to participate in school activities through Parent -Teacher Association and School Based Management Committee has been going on in schools. The researcher is thus concerned as to the extent of the managerial

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