Competences needed by secondary school headteachers and implications for pre-service and in-service education: a case of Nairobi and Kakamega district (Kenya)
Onyango, G. A.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the competences needed by headteachers for effective and efficient management and leadership of secondary schools. In addition to the main purpose, the study also sought to find out how the core competences identified could be used in designing a guideline for the professional development of the headteachers, in terms of pre-service and in-service education and training.The descriptive-survey paradigm was used in conducting the study. The sample comprised of 86 public secondary schools, 57 of which were in Kakamega and 29 Nairobi. A total of 73 headteachers, 131 heads of department and 287 teachers responded to a 75 item questionnaire measuring the actual proficiency or competence of the headteacher, and the degree of need of the competences. The other instruments used were an interview guide and an observation schedule. Quantitative data obtained through the questionnaire were analyzed using statistical package for social science. The statistics derived include percentages, means, standard deviations, t-test scores, and ANOVA values. The findings showed that a large proportion of headteachers viewed themselves as either adequately proficient or averagely proficient in the competences pertain to general school management, management of curriculum and instruction, management of finance and business, management of physical and material resources, management of staff personnel, management of physical and material resources. The heads of department and teachers on the other hand viewed the headteachers as possessing low levels of proficiency in the seven operational management tasks areas. No significant differences were found between the headteachers and the heads of department and between the headteacher and the teachers in the seven operational management task areas. No significant differences were found between head of department and teachers regarding their perception of the actual proficiency of the headteachers in the seven operational management task areas. The study established that a very high proportion of the headteachers, heads of departments and teachers attached a high degree of importance to many of the competences listed under the seven operational management task areas of the secondary school headteacher. In the first operational management tasks area i.e. General school management, of the 16 competences, the respondents attached a high degree of importance to 15 competences. These dwelt on school vision and mission, planning, organizing, coordinating, communication, time management, conflict management of curriculum and Instruction; the respondents identified 11 out of the 16 competences. These competences pertained to curriculum interpretation and implementation, instructional leadership, motivation, curriculum evaluation, presentation, planning etc. In the third management tasks area, i.e. Management of Finance and Business, five out of six competences were identified by the respondents as critical. They related to preparation of budget. The fourth management task area was management of physical and material resources. In this area, the respondents attached a high degree of importance to 5 of the 7 competences. These competences pertained to utilization of school materials, management of school plant, management of educational resources, acquisition of school equipment and stores, etc. The fifth management task area was management of staff personnel. In this task area seven of the 13 competences were deemed important. They pertained to providing direction to staff, listening to staff problems, friendship and respect for teachers, planning and controlling the work of staff. The sixth management task was management of Students. The respondents attached importance to six of the ten competences in the task area. These competences related to student behaviour, relations with students, student discipline, student motivation, etc. In the seventh operational management task area i.e. Management of school community Relations, the headteachers, heads of department and teachers attached importance to five of the seven competences. The identified competences pertain to headteachers' abilities in relation to parents’ involvement in school matters, promotion of good school community relations, communication of school policy to parents, etc. The study established, that ranked in order of importance in relation to the competences needed by headteachers in each operational management task area, General school management ranked first followed by management of Finance and business. Other task areas were management of physical and material resources, management of curriculum and instruction, management of school community relations, management of students and management of staff personnel, in that order. School factors and background characteristic of the headteachers did not influence the headteachers perception regarding the competence needed by headteachers for effective and efficient management of secondary schools. The respondents regarded the current headteacher training programmes as inadequate and wanting in many respects. Based on finding of the study, it is recommended that the government should enact comprehensive policies that will facilitate the professionalisation of headship. The policies should, among other things, make headteacher education and training mandatory. The study also recommended that the universities should introduce specific courses at certificate, diploma and degree levels in school management, for current and prospective headteachers, heads of department and teachers. It is also recommended that the government should establish an advisory centres in each district education office, to monitor and assess the performance of headteachers. Lastly, it is recommended that further research should be undertaken to validate the competences identified in this study, and also to determine the relationship between competence and school effectiveness.