Assessing power relations between school managers and teachers as a basis for conflict in selected secondary schools of Rufunsa district.
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The purpose of this study was to assess power relations between school managers and teachers as a basis for conflict in three (3) selected secondary schools of Rufunsa district in Lusaka Province of Zambia. This research study was guided by Michael Foucault’s Power relations theory. The sample size comprised thirty four (34) respondents segmented as: 1 DEBS, 3 Head teachers, 9 Head of Departments (HODs) and 21 Teachers distributed equally in the three (3) secondary schools. Criterion and homogeneous Purposive sampling was used on respondents like DEBS, Headteachers, HoDs and teachers as well as on secondary schools selected for the study. This study adopted an explanatory qualitative case study research design. The researcher specifically used semi-structured interviews to collect data from the DEBS and Headteachers while openended questionnaires were administered to HoDs and teachers. Thematic analysis with verbatims was used, where data analysis starts with the categorization of themes from the semi-structured interviews and open-ended questionnaires. The study found, to a greater extent, that negative power relations between school managers and teachers were a basis for conflict in selected secondary schools of Rufunsa district in Lusaka Province. While both positive and negative power relations existed in schools, negative power relations were identified to be common because both school managers and teachers admitted the existence of power related conflicts and stressed their desire to have the status quo changed through their submission of suggestions for enhancing positive power relations in schools. Negative power relations led to conflicts, non-cordial relations, team fragmentation and lack of collaboration, among others, between school managers and teachers. The ripple effect to such conflicts was lack of school improvement and poor performance among learners. Further, the study found that imposed decision-making styles were rampant as opposed to collective decision-making styles since most teachers and some HoDs respectively attested to the fact that they were side-lined. Other findings were that negative power relations were responsible for stifled schools’ success and progress, in addition to teacher low morale, motivation and skills’ development. Furthermore, the study established suggestions, based on the findings, for enhancing positive power relations in schools like upholding professionalism, inclusive decisionmaking as well as accountability and transparency, among others. The researcher not only proposed seven recommendations that would help restore positive power relations in schools but also future research area involving power related conflicts in schools. Key words: Power, Power relations, Conflict, teacher, school and School Manager.
The University of Zambia