ICT in secondary school administration in rural southern Kenya: An educator’s eye on its importance and use
Lazarus Makewa, Jackson Meremo, Elizabeth Role and Jesse RoleUniversity of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Kenya
School administration is a key determinant for the realization of desired outcomes and success in both public and private schools hence is seen as critical by all stakeholders. Gray and Smith (2007) observe that the twenty-first century principal administrator faces numerous challenges emanating from the technology. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are increasingly used and viewed as important in all spheres of operation including education. This requires effective and dynamic school administration. (In this study, Information and Communication Technologies, ICT, refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications in general but specifically to computers.)
Consequently, Whitehead, Jensen, and Boschee (2003) are concerned that “the current movement toward putting the latest technology into classrooms is causing educators to reassess school programs and policies and to examine the impact computers and other data-processing equipment are having on teaching and learning” (p. 3).
Due to these rapid changes, administrators and other educators globally are compelled to carefully analyse the academic and social needs of their students. Maki (2008) stipulates that ICT plays a vital role in supporting powerful, efficient management and administration in the education sector: technology can be used from student administration (i.e., students’ record) to various resource administration in an education institution. According to Zainally (2008), “ICT provides several facilities and possibilities for educational administrators to perform their tasks” (p. 283). In this regard, Voogt and Knezek (2008) observe that the development of computer technology from processing information to supporting communication augmented its potential for education. Our society, without exception, is in transition towards an information society due to the enormous impact of these technologies in all facets of life. However, the importance and use of ICT in schools in Kenya differ from one district to the other due to a number of factors including academic, economic, political, and cultural levels of development.
Although ICT use in secondary school administration in Kenya and Kuria Districts in particular, appears to be a new concept and a complex change, Fullan (1993) advises that there is an urgent need to unpack the complexity of change to provide guidance for those who must deal with it. Also, Day and Leithwood (2007) remark that this is the ‘golden age’ of school leadership change. Educators should re-examine their attitudes, perceptions, plans, and implementation of ICT in their daily administrative operations however challenging it might be. This is central to the success with which favoured solutions actually work in schools. If the new technology is being embraced by students and teachers, including computers as educational tools; it is imperative that school administrators, as key educators, also embrace it for effective administration.
Since the mid-1980s, the scope and pace of change around the world have accelerated dramatically. The work of administrators has changed in organizations, including schools, from manual and mechanical to electronic data processing, storage, output, and communication hence the importance of ICT use. Taylor and Hogenbirk (2001) suggest that the transformational rate of change might find professionals outdated in their own profession, thus countries that do not integrate policies of scientific and technology development with education components will be left behind.
Kuria District Secondary School educators are no exception; they face the challenge of change in their operations. Hallinger (1995) says
Increased access internationally to ICT has also had an impact on administration of organizations…thus an understanding of how culture shapes both the nature of leadership and the portability of knowledge is increasingly salient to both scholars and professionals throughout the world (pp. 1, 4 ).
This study endeavoured to establish educators’ perceptions of the importance and extent to which administrators use ICT, which had not previously been explored in this area. The findings would be used to recommend possible measures to be taken by the Ministry of Education, school managers, school administrators and other interested stakeholders for effective school administration.
Administrators’ participation in professional development is crucial for any meaningful change to occur as they have a vital role to play. Data use in school administration currently ranges over multiple areas, informing administrators about demographics, school processes, student learning, as well as perceptions and projections (Bernhardt, (2000)). These examples are included to encourage teachers and administrators to get started on data analysis and database work, wherever they are, for school improvement.
The government, through the Ministry of Education, has plans to integrate ICT training in teacher training, where school administrators and teaching staff will be presented with opportunities to learn file management, word processing, spread sheets, email, and Internet skills, as well as ICT integration awareness [MOEST, 2005]. However, in 2008, Boakye and Banini argued that teachers need to seek and receive initial and on-going training on how to use ICT to enhance their training. They call for “re-forming” teacher education rather than just trying to “re-tool” the teachers.
Upon realizing this, the Ministry of Education, (2008) notes that all target groups are aware of the importance of ICT integration within the Ministry of Education and education institutions, where the activities take place. Some of its achievements are: 1). Advice has been given on the online training modules developed by the Kenya Education Staff Institute (KESI). The KESI courses on ICT integration for school heads were revised. 2). A National ICT Innovation and Integration Centre is now operational, with the mandate to collect, test and share ICT innovations and harness emerging technologies for integration in all aspects of education.
This study found that both teachers and administrators saw the use of ICT in secondary school administration as important. Teachers and administrators viewed the use of ICT in student administration as equally important while administrators rated the importance of using ICT in supervision of instruction and in student administration higher. This is encouraging for the implementation of ICT in secondary school administration because administrators, who have a greater influence in implementing ICT use in schools, have a higher perception than that of the teachers. They could easily influence the staff they lead through mentoring. In fact, they rated the importance of ICT use in supervision of instruction and in student administration higher than any other item.
There was a significant difference between the perceptions of teachers and administrators on the importance of ICT use in student administration, general administration and supervision of instruction. This may suggest that in most cases teachers view administrators as supervisors of personnel in their organization, as well as custodians of financial matters. It is in this regard administrators gave a higher rating than teachers to the importance of using ICT in areas such as computerizing financial systems, fee payment and analysis, income projections and school financial monitoring, and planning for prudent decision making in administration.
There was no significant difference on the extent of administrators’ use of ICT in secondary school administration between teachers and administrators. Both agree on the extent of use of ICT in various administrative tasks. The difference between administrators and teachers in their perceptions on the extent to which administrators use ICT in secondary school administration is apparently the opposite of their perceptions on the importance of ICT use. Teachers and administrators have similar perceptions on the extent of administrators’ use of ICT in student administration. In particular, administrators use ICT in preparation, administering, compiling and analysing students’ test marks. Both teachers and administrators indicated this to be of importance in ICT use. Conversely, both agree that administrators do not apply ICT much in the rest of the areas namely: personnel, financial, general and supervision of instruction.
It is evident from this study that ICT has a dominant position in education; it enters the school environment progressively, aiming to adopt technological applications not only in the teaching and learning process but also in the management of the whole school. Information systems provide tools that contribute to the improved execution of administrative work. More specifically, using an information system in school administration provides for data integration where data is derived from several information sources, for decision making as well as for management. As such, the implementation of ICT facilitates the effectiveness of administrative services and reinforces communication channels within the school community.
In conclusion, the introduction and adoption of ICT in schools ensures an advanced electronic administrative framework. Information management systems can be used for the modeling and organization of administrative procedures, which align school administration with the principles and strategies of our information society. Within this framework, administrators are expected to be equipped with technological infrastructure to provide the educational community with upgraded technology applications. We may also observe that ICT is being increasingly implemented in schools considering the valuable benefits that school units have gained by using advanced technological tools in their everyday work. However, it is important to create the environment necessary for the successful and efficient adoption of new technologies in the classroom as well as in administration, taking into consideration that school management is regarded as one of the main factors contributing to a school’s effective function.
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