The Role of Benchmarking on the Performance Of Church Maintained Schools in Kenya: A Case of Central Kenya Conference Schools
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With growing demand for increased operational efficiency and process improvement in organizations of all sizes, more and more institutions are turning to benchmarking as a means of setting goals and measuring performance against the products ,services, and practices of other organizations that are recognized as leaders (Stapenhurst, 2009). In any competitive economy, continuous quality improvement is essential if an organization is to stay in operation. Organizations that thrive in the market do not function in isolation but continuously measure their products, services, practices and cultures against the toughest competitors or those companies recognized as industry leaders. SDA church maintained schools in Kenya have been operating in isolation just to conserve the culture and traditions of the church. This attitude has for a long time led to many SDA schools in Kenya to operate as 'lone rangers', a trend that fall short;of meeting the ever dynamic customers' needs. This study attempted to find out the role of benchmarking on the performance of SDA church maintained schools in the Central Kenya Conference (CKC). It sought to determine the difference in performance between the church schools that have maintained a conservative culture and those schools that have embraced change of culture. It utilized descriptive study through survey as it targeted ten schools with a population of 155 teachers who were the respondents. The study administered questionnaires on the teachers in the schools selected. It sought to determine the current and the previous status of the schools' performance and to find out if benchmarking had ever been carried out and the role it had played on the performance. It sought to determine how variables such as quality, adaptability, innovation, and motivation through benchmarking could affect performance. Data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics by statistics program for social sciences (SPSS) and presented in charts, frequency tables, graphs and cross tabulation. The study findings indicated that most church maintained schools seem to have high gender parity given the difference between male and female respondents reflected in the study. Benchmarking in schools is evidently linked to practices of innovation, adaptability, teacher motivation and quality within the school system. Most schools were rated to be moderately performing as a result of benchmarking. Benchmarking envisaged a likelihood of increasing the level of motivation among teachers. Different benchmarking parameters have intertwined role in the way they influence performance of church maintained schools. The study recommended a need for continuous and effective benchmarking process among all church maintained schools, importance of emphasising on the effectiveness of benchmarking practices among schools and a needs assessment on teacher satisfaction parameters among church maintained schools. Further study should be undertaken on factors affecting the effectiveness of benchmarking process in church maintained schools in Kenya.