The Authority Structure of two Secondary Boarding Schools in the Luapula Province of Zambia as revealed by Headmaster-teacher relationships

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Chomba, Simon Rabson
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The present study was carried out in two residential Secondary schools in the Luapula Province, Zambia, to determine whether the school's authority structure was democratic, authoritarian, or laissesz-faire. The research was based on the assumption that democratic leadership was one in which the head's bureaucratic authority was appropriately blended with his charismatic authority in the performance of his duties, in a school. The subjects of the research were the head of school, his deputy, the boarding master, heads of subject departments and the subject teachers in each of the selected boarding secondary schools The questionnaire and participant observation techniques were used to collect data. The administration of the questionnaire, was done at Nchelenge Secondary School, and St. Mary's Secondary School between 22nd September and 22nd October 1981. The investigator taught a few classes in each school in order to get 'a feel' of the school's social climate. He also studied some documents of the school such as, the time-tables and minutes of staff meetings. Data were analysed by constructing frequency rating tables, and computing the percentages and the mean scores of each of the leader behaviour dimensions. The authority structure of each school was analysed in terms of three types: democratic, authoritarian and laissez-faire. The democratic authority structure was characterised lay high consideration, high initiating structure and high thrust. The authoritarian authority structure was described as one in which there was very low initiating structure and very low thrust. As for the laissez-faire authority structure, it was described as containing very low consideration, very low initiating structure and very low thrust. A headmaster was rated by four categories of teachers (the deputy head, the heads of subject departments, the boarding master and the subject teachers), the inter-group comparison of the head's performance helped to describe' the nature of the authority structure of the school. The research findings revealed that categories of respondents perceived differently the role performance of the head of school. Both heads scored highly on consideration for staff. Their scores on consideration were higher than those on initiating structure. The Headmistress of St. Mary's Secondary School obtained a high score on the dimension of thrust than the headmaster of Nchelenge Secondary School. There was a percentage difference of 15 reflecting the type of leadership provided by two heads. Overall, the authority structure of Nchelenge Secondary School was laissez-faire whereas that of St. Mary's Secondary School was democratic. It is suggested that a replication of the study involving bigger sample of schools may throw light on the manner in which the heads of secondary schools are appointed in Zambia. Such a study should consider a large number of Likert-type statements for each of the leader behaviour dimensions, which should be tried in a "pilot study" to establish their individual reliability.
Education, Secondary - Zambia - Luapula Province.