A survey of the activities and problems associated with the administrative task of school community relations with particular to headteachers of primary schools in Thika municipality
Mbugua, Catherine Wambui
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This study examined the relationship existing between the primary schools and their surrounding communities. The focus of this study was, however, limited to how headteachers maintain this relationship and the type of problems they experience in administering it. The research study also tried to give possible suggestions towards future improvements in this reciprocal relationship. The population sample was drawn from all the headteachers of primary schools in Thika Municipality. The Municipal Education Officer and thirty-five teachers were also included in the sample so as to help clarify headteachers responses. Hence, the total sample of study comprised fifty-five respondents. The principal tool used in data collection was the questionnaire. However, follow up interviews and discussions were conducted when and as necessary. The results of the analysis were presented as frequency and percentage distributions and tabulated appropriately. The study found among other things that a relationship did exist between the primary schools and their communities. However, much as the headteachers were aware that school community relations were essential, they did not rate it as important as other administrative tasks such as, pupil personnel, staff personnel and curriculum and instructional programs. Headteachers also indicated that they communicated with their schools immediate communities. The most popular communication channels were letters, face-to-face dialogues, and public meetings. Some of the activities involving the school and the community included decision-making matters, instructional programs, sharing each other's facilities, attending each other's functions, and contributing to each other's projects of development. Majority of the headteachers, however, did not encourage their school personnel to collect data on community issues or to educate the community in relevant areas. The problems that headteachers experienced as a result of the relationship between their schools and the community were for example, disciplinary action against pupils, failure by parents to buy necessary school items for their children, and laxity on the part of parents to attend important school meetings and to contribute monies to school projects. Lack of proper care of pupils at home, failure of pupils to attend school because of work given by parents, misuse of school facilities, rumourmongering by community members on headteachers' proficiency, differences between the church the school or church and parents, and political interferences were some of the problems quote by headteachers as hindering development of healthy school-community relations. Some of the possible ways these problems could be solved were cited by headteachers to include, education and counseling of parents, establishing effective communication channels, inviting parents to school and involving administrative officers. A few recommendations on how to improve future school-community relations were made. These recommendations included formal training of headteachers in administrative duties, educating community members on the importance of becoming involved in school affairs, having a clear government policy, and including a school-community relations program in the syllabus. It was, however, recommended that a replica of this study be considered by future scholars using a wider sample, possibly a cross-section of the national populace. Such an endeavour would expose more solid conclusions than the limitations of this study warranted.