Constraints to the Principals’ Instructional Quality Assurance Role in Public Secondary Schools in Kenya

African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, Vol. 2, 2015

Author: Justina Ndaita, Faculty of Education,
Kisii University College, Eldoret – Kenya | Email: ndaitaj@yahoo.com


Abstract

The principal’s role is a significant factor in determining the overall quality and effectiveness of many schools worldwide. However, the full realization of their role is often than not constrained. This study examined the constraints to the principal’s instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools in Kitui West Sub-county, Kenya. The study employed a mixed research method, which included a survey and naturalistic designs. The sample included nine (9) schools, one hundred and thirty eight (138) students, fifty four (54) class teachers, nine (9) principals and two (2) District Quality Assurance and Standards Officers (DQASO). In total, they were two hundred and three respondents (203).  Data collection instruments included questionnaires for students and teachers and interview guides for the principals and DQASOs. The collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. The quantitative data were processed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) to produce frequencies and percentages. Content analysis was used to analyze the qualitative. The study showed that the key constraints to the principal’s quality assurance role were lack of adequate finances, inadequacy instructional resources, high teacher-student ratio, overloaded curriculum, lack of adequate government support and cooperation from school community.

Keywords: Instructional quality assurance, Quality assurance role, Principal’s role, School quality assurance, public schools quality, School effectiveness, Quality schools, Principal’s instructional leadership, Kitui West District


1. Introduction

The literature suggests that school principals are the chief instructional leaders of their schools whose leadership role is central to establishing and maintaining an effective school (Wanzare, 2013). As an instructional leader, the principal is the pivotal point within the school who affects the quality of individual teacher instruction, the height of student achievement, and the degree of efficiency in school functioning (Chell, 1995). This role can be summed up as principal’s instructional quality assurance. Adebunmi and   Saheed 2014 relate quality assurance to the achievement of educational program standards which are established by institutions, professional organizations, and government.

In their pursuit of executing instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools, the principals face major challenges in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills, curriculum implementation, providing teaching and learning resources and meeting teacher training and development deeds. Other challenges include financial constraints, restrictive policies, and mismanagement of resources and lack of stakeholder support among others (Leu & Bryner, 2005). This study examined the major constraints facing the principals in instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools with reference to Kitui West District in Kenya. The study gives recommendations that can be applied with varying degrees in secondary public schools by policy makers, school administrators and other stakeholders in education for effective management of secondary schools.

2. Methodology

The main purpose of this study was to examine the major challenges facing the principals in instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools in Kitui West District in Kenya. This study employed a mixed research design, which included a survey and naturalistic designs. These designs were used in order to take into account large target population and the researcher’s involvement in the natural setting of the study. Both quantitative and qualitative paradigms were also used. Survey design generated quantitative data from the questionnaire while naturalistic approach used interview method to generate qualitative data from the key informants who worked and lived in the site of the study. The sample included nine (9) schools in Kitui West District, one hundred and thirty eight (138) students, fifty four (54) class teachers, nine (9) principals and two (2) District Quality Assurance and Standards Officers (DQASO). In total, they were two hundred and three (203) respondents who participated in the study.

Data collection instruments which were used included questionnaire for students and teachers and interview guides for the principals and DQASOs. The collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS, Version 17) aided the process of data analysis. The quantitative data were computed to produce frequencies and percentages. On the other hand, content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data.

3. Results

The results of this study are organized in selected research variables,  namely  challenges facing principals in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills, curriculum implementation, providing teaching and learning resources, and in meeting teacher training and development needs.

3.1 Pedagogical Related Challenges Facing Principals

The study was interested in finding out the challenges facing principals in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills in teaching and learning.

Table 1: Pedagogical skills application challenges

pedagogical-challenge

In execution of their elaborate and explicit function of effective application of pedagogical skills, this study found that school principals faced pedagogical related challenges in their quality assurance role. The study identified these challenges as inadequate teaching and learning resources as indicated by 45% of teachers who participated in the study and 28% of students. Another issue was lack of cooperation from and negligence by teachers and students. This was supported by 15% and 48% teachers and students respectively. The issue of heavy workload was another challenge which was sited by 22% of teachers in the study. Indiscipline among some students was reported by 7% of teachers.  The problem of qualified but incompetent teachers was indicated by 7% of teachers as challenge too. A 16 per cent of students indicated that principals lacked adequate time to perform all pedagogical duties.

Principals on the other hand, reported that lack of cooperation by some teachers; limited resources and heavy workload were key challenges that hindered their efforts in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills in teaching and learning in schools. On their part, DQASOs explained that the principals faced some level of resistance from some teachers and that they lacked supervisory personnel. Preparation of schemes of work and lesson plans and lack of teaching materials, were also noted as among the major challenges facing the principals in their pedagogical skills enhancement role in schools.

3.2 Challenges Facing Principals in Curriculum Implementation

Curriculum is central component in any teaching and learning process. Despite its central role, there are various challenges that principals face in curriculum implementation. Table 2 shows the distribution of teachers and students on the challenges facing principals as they try to ensure effective curriculum implementation in schools.

Table 2: Curriculum implementation challenges in schools

curriculum-implementation-challenge

Slightly over a third of teachers (34%) indicated that the principals faced challenge of lack of adequate provision of teaching and learning resources. The same was echoed by another 37% of students.

Some 22% of teachers further indicated that the principals faced the problem of lack of adequate staff. However, only 7% of students who felt that understaffing was a problem facing principals in curriculum implementation. Overloaded curriculum was cited by 20% of teachers as another problem which faced principals in curriculum implementation.

The principals on the other hand reported that they encountered the problem of understaffing, failure of teachers to prepare the schemes of work in good time, poor time management by teachers and students and huge scope of the syllabus. One of them explained that ‘failure to prepare schemes of work and records of work on time coupled with the poor time management by both teachers and students are the major curriculum implementation hindrances in my school. One of the DQASOs went on to point that the principals faced a number of challenges in curriculum implementation process. He explained that the effective implementation of curriculum was hindered by a bloated curriculum, over-enrolment of students in schools, lack of adequate instructional resources and inadequate teaching staff.

3.3 Challenges Facing Principals in Providing Teaching and Learning Resources

There is no effective learning that can take place without adequate instructional materials.

Table 3: Challenges associated with the Teaching and learning resources 

teaching-and-learning-challenges

Most of teachers who participated in the study (58%) indicated that lack of finance to acquire adequate teaching and learning resources was one of the key challenges facing the principals. This was confirmed by almost the same percentage of students (56%).  Frequent change of syllabus was another challenge that faced principals in their role of ensuring adequate teaching and learning resources in schools as indicated by 20% of teachers and supported by 12% of students respectively. Delay of funds by the government which affects the acquisition of teaching and learning resources was another challenge that the principals faced as reported by 13% of teachers who took part in the study.

In response to the challenges faced by the principals while ensuring that there are adequate teaching and learning resources in schools, the principals reported that they encountered the problem of lack of adequate funds to acquire essential resources and delay of government in providing funds. There was also the problem of loss of books. DQASOs, on the other hand explained that there was lack of adequate funds to buy the instructional materials and inadequate school facilities.

3.4 Challenges Facing Principals in Meeting Teacher Training and Development Needs

Teachers, principals and DQASOs were asked to point out the kind of challenges that faced principals in tying to meet teacher training and development needs in public secondary schools. The Figure below shows teachers’ distribution on the key challenges facing principals. teacher-training-challenges Lack of adequate funds was one of the key challenges facing the principals while trying to meet the teacher training and development needs as reported by 57.4% of teachers who took part in the study. The other challenge was lack of time due to tight school schedule as indicated by 35.2% of teachers. Thus the principals are not able to strike the balance between time and the teacher training gaps. A couple of teachers, 3.7% reported that there was also lack of adequate government  support for the principals to be able to meet teacher training and development needs. Lastly lack of cooperation from teachers was reported as a challenge by another 3.7% of teachers who participated in the study.  During an interview, the principals also reported that they faced the same challenges as they try to meet teachers’ training and developmental needs. In addition, DQASOs further added that the school principals lacked a well laid teacher training and development policy provisions to be able to meet teacher training and development needs.

4. Discussion

The role of principals as the Quality Assurance leaders at school level cannot be underestimated.  Leu and Bryner (2005) observe that the principal’s role is a significant factor in determining overall quality and effectiveness of many schools worldwide. However, they noted that this important role is prone to a wide variety of challenges. This important leadership position can negatively be affected by such factors as: financial constraints, restrictive policies, mismanagement of resources, lack of stakeholder support among other factors. This observation is consistent with the findings of the current study which revealed that principals as a quality assurance leader face the numerous challenges including the challenges in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills, curriculum implementation, provision of teaching and learning resources and meeting teacher training and development needs.

School heads in their quality assurance role are expected to ensure effective implementation of curriculum. However the findings of the study indicate that they face various challenges including lack of cooperation from stakeholders, inadequate provision of teaching and learning resources, overloaded curriculum, failure of teachers to prepare the schemes of work in good time, a bloated curriculum and inadequate teaching staff.  This study corroborate findings  by Atieno & Simatwa (2012) who found that there are a number of challenges that school heads face in relation to curriculum implementation including lack of appropriate policies to enable effective curriculum implementation and poor or limited stakeholders’ participation that contribute to insufficient implementation of the set curriculum.   The role of Parent Teacher Associations cannot be overlooked in the quest for top quality learning. This is especially so in the rural public schools which have inadequate funds to run their operations. In such cases, parents, religious institutions or the surrounding community are instrumental in helping sustain operations of the school (Mosomi, 2008). Absence of such vital assistance means that the operations of learning institutions would be hampered thus leading to poor quality in service delivery. Co-operation between the school principal and other stakeholders ensures that systems applied in operations of the school are appropriate and effective in ensuring a high quality learning environment.

Adequate teaching and learning resources in a school is considered as a perquisite for quality education thus a necessity for enhancing principal’s role as instructional quality assurance in public secondary school. According to Adebunmi and   Saheed (2014), maintenance of factors such as curriculum, instructional materials, equipment, school management, teacher training and resources are some of the indicators of quality education. Thus, lack of adequate funds and government / stakeholders’ support can further complicate the role of the school principals in ensuring adequate supply of teaching and learning resources. Lack of adequate teaching and learning resources can result to poor academic performance among students. According to Leu and Bryen (2005), failure to provide adequate and quality teaching and learning resources would be detrimental to delivery of high education standards. Failure to attain certain education standards as a result of school resource gaps is likely to further complicate the role of school principals.

Teacher training and development is another area of concern among school heads. Constant development in the world necessitates a regular updating of teaching skills. This would mean provision of training workshops or even facilitating teachers to go for further academic courses to improve on their skills. Various constraints however are likely to hamper the principal’s efforts in trying to meet teacher training needs. Such constraints according to this study included lack of adequate funds, lack of time due to tight school schedule inadequate government support for the principals to be able to meet teacher training and development needs. Previous body of knowledge shows that lack of adequate funding can adversely education process. According to Mobegi, Ondigi and Oburu (2010), financial constraints remain one major challenge facing principals in their various instructional leadership roles in schools including teacher training and development needs.

5. Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Conclusion
This study has shown that there are major challenges facing the principals in instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools in Kitui West District in Kenya that range from challenges in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills, curriculum implementation, providing teaching and learning resources to meeting teacher training and development needs. All the major challenges facing principals are linked to financial constraint. Thus, principals are unlikely to be effective in their instructional quality assurance role without putting in place sound financial empowerment framework in schools.

5.2 Recommendations

The research recommends that principals need to develop more reliable sources of funding that would not interfere with the main purpose of the learning institution.  These funds if well managed will help address the identified major challenges in ensuring effective application of pedagogical skills, curriculum implementation, providing teaching and learning resources and meeting teacher training and development needs

The study also recommends that the availability of funds should be supported by principal’s effective management skills and maximum cooperation from teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders in education. This will help principals to effectively overcome the major challenges facing them in instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools.

5.3 Recommendation for further studies
The study only identified the major challenges facing the principals in instructional quality assurance role in public secondary schools without looking at the strategies of addressing them. Thus, there is need to carry out further research on the strategies of addressing the challenges for quality assurance and effective management of public secondary schools.

References

Adebunmi, F,  and   Saheed , O. (2014 ).  Assessing Principals’ Quality Assurance Strategies in Osun State Secondary Schools, Nigeria.  International Journal of Instruction,  Vol.7, No.1.

Chell, J. (1995). Introducing Principals to the Role of Instructional Leadership, University of Regina

Leu, E., & Bryner, K. (2005). Recruiting, Retaining and Training Secondary School Teachers and Principals in Sub Saharan Africa. Working paper series – The World Bank, AED Global Education Centre 6(8), 29-40.

Timilehin  E, H (2010). Administering Secondary Schools in Nigeria for Quality Output in the 21st century: The principals’ Challenge   European Journal of Educational Studies 2(3), 2010 ISSN 1946-6331

Wanzare O.,Z. (2013). Skills and attributes of instructional supervisors: Experience from Kenya.  Academic Journals Educational Research and Review, .8 (24), DOI: 10.5897/ERR 12.05


Suggested Citation:

Ndaita, J. (2015). Constraints to the Principals’ Instructional Quality Assurance Role in Public Secondary Schools in Kenya.  African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, Vol., 2. Retrieved from http://www.arjess.org/education-research/constraints-to-the-principals-instructional-quality-assurance-role-in-public-secondary-schools-in-kenya