Conflict management strategies used in secondary schools In Kisumu Municipality, Kisumu County, Kenya
Conflict management strategies are fundamental to peaceful coexistence in any organization. Conflicts are inevitable, and can spring from miscommunication, unmet expectations, and feelings that one's contributions has not been acknowledged: in fact conflicts seldom have a simple cause. But if managed effectively, it not only avoids something that would have been otherwise festering and difficult, but they also usually lead to insights and opportunities that might not be seen otherwise. Hence, being able to manage conflict well is the key to success of an organization or an individual, including in a school. This study investigated conflict management strategies used in secondary schools in Kisumu Municipality, with a view to providing an empirical justification for the suitability of each strategy, and designing an appropriate mix of strategies for managing conflicts in secondary schools in the municipality, how appropriate and effective they are have not been determined yet, the wave of students‟ unrest has increased in the municipality. Over 35.4% of the schools have participated in different kinds of unrests this year by resisting transfers of popular teachers, or forcing teachers out of classes, or students fighting amongst themselves. There was therefore need to assess the effectiveness of conflict management strategies used by secondary schools in the municipality in order to recommend the most suitable strategies for managing conflicts in secondary schools in the municipality. Otherwise, conflicts and unrests would continue in intensity and sophistication, and schools will become inhospitable to both teachers and students. This study specifically identified the causes of conflicts, investigated the types of conflicts, determined the strategies used to manage conflicts and then assessed the effectiveness of those management strategies in secondary schools in Kisumu municipality. Guided by the contingency theory of management, the study was conducted through cross sectional survey research design. Data was collected by the researcher from 382 students and 265 teachers in secondary schools in Kisumu municipality, using questionnaires and interview techniques in July 2011, analyzed using percentages, means and standard deviations, and reported in tables and figures. The most common types of conflicts were found to be interpersonal conflicts, intrapersonal conflicts, emotional conflicts, and group conflicts; and the main causes of conflicts are unmet expectations, contradictory opinions, personality differences, miscommunication, incompatibility of needs and interests, and competition. The management strategies commonly used in the secondary schools in the municipality are avoidance, collaboration, competition, compromise, and accommodation. The study established that (i) avoidance, (ii) collaboration, and (iii) accommodation strategies affects the magnitude of conflicts in secondary schools in Kisumu Municipality, but (i) competition and (ii) compromise strategies do not affect the magnitude of conflicts in secondary schools in Kisumu Municipality. The study concludes that the conflict management strategies used in secondary schools in Kisumu municipality are effective. The study recommends that (i) the Ministry of Education and the TSC conduct regular management training seminars to educate teachers on the verity of conflict management strategies and their strengths and weaknesses as well as where and when they can be used; (ii) that TSC and the KIE immediately develop a manual for identification of conflicts and appropriate resolution techniques. Finally the study recommends that (iii) a study be conducted to determine the effectiveness of conflict management strategies in all schools across Kenya and across levels of education in Kenya.