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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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE I
APPROVAL PAGE II
TABLE OF CONTENTS VII
LIST OF TABLES X
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study 1
Statement of the Problem 7
Purpose of the Study 9
Significance of the Study 10
Scope of the Study 11
Research Questions 11
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Conceptual Framework 15
Theoretical Framework 40
Empirical Framework 51
Summary of Review of Related Literature 55
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Research Design 57
Area of the Study 58
Population of the Study 58
Sample and Sampling Techniques 59
Instrument for Data Collection 61
Validation of Instrument 62
Reliability of Instrument 62
Administration of the Instrument/
Method of Data Collection 63
Method of Data Analysis 64
CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
OF DATA 66
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, RECOMMENDATIONS
AND CONCLUSIONS 79
Conflict Management Strategies Used by the Head
Conflict Management Strategies Used by Teachers 81
Conflict Management Strategies Used by Pupils 82
Appraisal of Conflict Management Techniques of
Head Teachers by Teachers 84
Educational Implications 87
Suggestion for Further Studies 90
Conclusion on Discussion, Recommendation 91
Summary of the Findings
Appendix (1a) Letter to Respondents 105
Appendix 1(b) Questionnaire for Respondents 106
Appendix 2(a) Calculated Mean Scores (x) and
Standard Deviation (SD) of Head teachers
on the methods they use in managing
conflicts between teachers 111
Appendix 2(b) Calculated Mean Scores (x) and
Standard Deviation (SD) of Teachers
on methods they use teacher in schools
managing conflict among pupils 112
Appendix 2(c) Calculation Mean Scores (X) and
Standard Deviations (SD) of pupils on
strategies they use in managing conflicts
amongst themselves 113
Appendix 2(d) Calculation Mean Scores (x) and
Standard Deviations (SD) of teachers
appraisal of conflict management
techniques of their head teachers 114
Appendix 3(a) Calculation of t-test on responses
of Head teachers on the methods used
by Head teachers in rural and urban
schools in managing conflicts between
teachers in primary schools 115
Appendix 3(b) Calculation of t-test on responses of
teachers on the methods used by teacher
in rural and urban schools in managing
conflicts among pupils in primary
Appendix 3(c) 118 Appendix 3(d) Calculation of t-test on responses of teachers on teachers appraisal of
conflict management skills of the head
teachers in primary schools. 120
Appendix 4(a) Population Distribution of Pupils in
Senior Primary Schools in Awka North
Local Government Area 122
Appendix 4(b) Population Distribution of Pupils in
Senior Primary Schools in Awka South
Local Government Area 124
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
i. The inculcation of national consciousness and national
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
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
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
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 between workers and supervisors,
in communities over territories, resources control, power
sharing to mention just a few. Sources of conflicts include
differences in personality tracts, differences in background,
differences in values, poor communication skills, differences
in perceptions, differing view, points, emotions and attitudes.
Ezenwa (1998), indicated that other sources of conflict in
school includes; non involvement of teachers in decision
making process, lateness to duty, formation of cliques by
staff, poor discharge of duties and poor academic
background of school administrators.
School conflict can also arise from the structure such as
the size, location of institution – rural or urban, nature of
work and gender composition.
Conflicts manifest in different forms. It can occur in form
of insults, name calling, blackmailing, defamation of
character, false accusation, withdrawal of love and support
or services, withdrawal of salaries, strikes, suspension,
sudden transfer, demotion, termination of appointments,
violent demonstration, wars and killing (Ezegbe, 1997).
Conflicts have led to wars, dislocation of people and loss of
lives and property. Greed, egoism and desire to have power
over others are humanity worst enemies. In some way, they
are at the root of every conflict (Pope John Paul II, 2001). All
over the world, conflict has caused misery and suffering to
millions of people. According to UNDP (2002) during the 16
years of civil war in Mozambique, more than 40% of the
schools and health clinics were destroyed or forced to close
down. The economic loss caused by the war in Mozambique
was estimated at $ 15 billion.
Conflict has its merits and demerits. For an
administrator, conflict handled with wisdom can help him
make effective decisions. This is because the dissenting
opinions will expose different aspects of the problem at hand.
A judgment made after a careful consideration of these
opinions is likely to be an effective one. However, whenever
people gather for any purpose there is bound to be
disagreement. In the school setting not all disagreements are
conflicts but all conflicts result from disagreements (Mbipom
& Okon 2003). The success of any school organization
therefore depends on the ability of the school administrator
to resolve the conflicts arising from disagreements within the
school system. The administrator’s efforts at achieving the
set objectives of the National Policy on Education will be
hindered if he is unable to manage his teacher and pupils
well so as to reduce conflicts when they arise.
According to, (Ezegbe 1997) conflicts in any organization can
be managed effectively using the following methods;
1. Dialogue. This is calling the conflicting parties in a
disputes to express their grievances and thus free
their mind of grudges and bitterness.
2. Arbitration is a process of bringing in a peacemaker
to settle the problem.
3. Confrontation is the use of force or debate by the two
opposing parties to solve their problems.
4. Separation device as the name implies involves
separating the two opposing individuals by transfer,
to another section of the organization.
5. Super ordinate goal is involving the conflicting
parties in the interrelated work thereby forcing them
to have a better relationship as they work together.
6. Prayer is another way to managing conflicts. The
problems can be taken to God in prayers and He will
effect a lasting solution to any conflict.
7. Empathy involves putting oneself into the feeling of
others. Ability to sense the distress of another person
decreases the tendency to hurt him and would easily
elicit apologies to sooth ill feelings. Thus nipping the
conflict in the bud.
For teacher-role performance to be effective, school
administrators should be versed in conflict management
strategies and apply any of them to solve individual teachers
or group conflicts based on the situation it best fits. In
addition, school administrator should initiate healthy
communication, maintain peace, remain accountable to the
people he serves, demonstrate forgiveness, train staff and
students as mediators, encourage reconciliation and
Conflicts are inherent and inevitable in any human
organization. The existence and prevalence of such conflicts
and their traumatic effects on educational institutions
demand that emerging conflicts should be controlled to
maximize productivity and for the education system to
achieve its aims and objectives. This underscores the needs
to find the means of resolving conflicts before they get out of
Statement of the Problem
There is a growing concern about conflicts in schools
and the society today. The issue of aggressive behaviours
and bullying in primary schools is alarming. There is need
that conflicts be managed constructively in order not to
escalate and consequently interfere with the learning process
and playground harmony. Teacher actions at a classroom
and school level have an important influence on student
conflict management. Over the ages, the government,
administrators and religious bodies have been encountering
a lot of conflicts.
There is a general impression that conflict in schools is
on the increase (Onwurah, 1995). Sometimes people blame
the government, administrators, head teachers for their
inability to control conflict situations in schools. Many
researchers have written works on the causes and
implications of conflicts in schools. For example, Onwurah
(1995) pointed out that schools nowadays are more involved
in conflict than in the past. Little or nothing has been written
on how conflict is resolved or managed in primary schools
especially in Awka Education Zone of Anambra State.
As a school teacher, it was observed that many a times,
the pupils have constant quarrel with one another. The
disagreements which the pupils have at play grounds often
times are not settled, and these are carried into the
classroom during lesson, which in turn disturb the teaching
and learning processes in the classroom. The teacher who
might not have known that such problems existed will be
busy teaching only to be distracted by noise in the
classroom. This makes the teacher unhappy and the
teaching and learning process in the classroom negatively
Effective management of conflict in the school setting
would go along way to improve teaching and learning. The
question is how are conflicts handled in our primary
schools? Thus, the statement of a problem as a question:
What are the conflicts management strategies in use in
primary schools in Anambra State?
Purpose of the Study
The main aim of this study is to determine how
conflicts are managed or handled in primary schools by head
teachers, teachers and pupils. The study is specially
1. Identify the methods used by head teachers in managing
conflicts between teacher and teacher.
2. Identify the methods used by teachers in managing
conflicts between pupils and pupil.
3. Identify the methods used by pupils in managing
conflicts among themselves.
4. Determine how teachers perceive the conflict
management skills of their head teachers.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may lead the policy and
curriculum planning experts to include as one of the content
areas: conflict management in the primary schools’ teacher
The research findings when published can be used to
help pupils know effective means of handling conflicts and
thus promote their social and interpersonal relationship. The
findings of this study may also help to enhance the
effectiveness of the head teachers and teachers as conflict
managers. The research findings may enhance the school
administrators and guidance counselors’ effectiveness in
The findings may add to the wealth of knowledge on
how to carry out conflict management strategies effectively in
The Scope of the Study
The study was delimited to the study of conflicts
management strategies in use in primary schools in
Anambra State. The variables covered by the study are;
conflict management strategies which head teachers used.
Conflict management used by teacher. Conflict management
strategies that pupils used. The influence of the variable,
‘gender’ and ‘school location’ (i.e urban-rural factor) were
The following research questions guided the study.
1. What are the methods used by head teachers in
management conflicts between teachers?
2. What are the methods used by teachers in managing
conflicts among pupils?
3. What are the strategies used by pupils in managing
conflicts between themselves?
4. What are the teachers views on the conflict management
techniques of their head teachers?
The under-listed null hypotheses were tested at the
0.05 level of significance. These are:
1. There is no significant difference in the mean rating
of head teachers in urban and rural schools
concerning conflict management strategies they use
in managing conflicts between teachers.
2. There is no significant difference in the mean
rating, of teachers in urban and rural school
concerning conflict management strategies they use
in managing conflicts among pupils.
3. There is no significant difference in the mean
ratings of male and female pupils concerning
conflict management strategies they use in
managing conflicts amongst themselves.
4. There is no significant difference in mean ratings of
teachers in urban and rural schools concerning
conflict management techniques of their head
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