Headteachers' preparation and support in financial management: a study of public secondary schools in Nakuru municipality (Kenya)
Maina, John Irungu
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The purpose of this study was to investigate headteacher preparation and support services provided in management of school finances. Concern among various stakeholders in the education sector over management of school finances was one of the major factors that stimulated interest to venture into this research. The study was guided by four research questions that were generated at the conceptual face of the study. The study was descriptive and employed questionnaire and interview as data collection instruments. These instruments were supplemented by documentary analysis of inspection and audit reports. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics (i.e. frequencies and percentages). The major finding of the study was that the existing preparation and support system in financial management was basically weak. As a result of weaknesses inherent in the current system of preparation and support, headteachers in the study schools were experiencing problems which cut across all areas of financial management. More specifically, the study found out that: (i) Even though there is a pre-service curriculum at University level meant to provide introductory elements in school finance, it was not sufficient in developing detailed and thorough knowledge and skills required in managing schools finances. (ii) Induction programmes were mainly not timely and did not cover all headteachers while delegation of responsibilities was largely ineffective and did not sufficiently prepare potential headteachers for responsibilities in financial management. (iii) Although an attempt had been made to provide in-service courses, they were organized on an adhoc basis, lacked sufficient content and coverage. They also lacked follow-up to monitor and evaluate their impact in enhancing the aspired financial management competencies. (iv) Low professional qualifications of bursars/account clerks and lack of modern information systems affected performance in financial management. (v) Lack of financial management knowledge and skills among Boards of Governors (BOGs) was also seen as a serious weakness in the support systems. (vi) Inadequate capacity of the Inspectorate and Audit Unit to effectively monitor and evaluate the performance of school headteachers in financial management was a major bottleneck in enhancing their management capacity. Based on the findings, the study concluded that in order to enhance the management capacity of headteachers in school finances, there was need for a comprehensive and well-integrated preparation and support system. The study therefore recommended that: (i) Since school financial management requires sufficient knowledge and skills, there should be a comprehensive training and management development programme for headteachers in this task area. This will go along way in improving efficiency and effectiveness in management of school finances. (ii) Universities in Kenya offering Education based courses should revise their pre-service curriculum to make the course covering financial management more detailed in terms of content, methodology and resources. In addition to theory and general principles, the course should also introduce learners to financial accounting and application of Computer based information systems in financial management. (iii) To realize the above stated objective, Universities should consider providing a post graduate diploma in Education Administration and Management. Headteachers or aspiring ones should be given more incentives to undertake at post graduate degree in Education Administration and Management (M.ED.). (iv) In-service courses should be mandatory, longer in duration, organised in manageable units, be more frequent and systematic. They should also involve follow-up to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. (v) The Ministry of Education should deploy sufficiently qualified personnel in the Inspectorate section to enhance its capacity to monitor and evaluate the performance of headteachers in financial management. The Audit Unit should be staffed with modern information systems to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness in providing required services. (vi) The Education Act (Cap. 211 of the laws of Kenya, 1980) should be revised to provide and promote a legal framework that provides clear controls, guidelines and procedures for financial operations and management.