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The study was designed to find out the effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools in the South – Eastern states of Nigeria. The study employed descriptive survey design. The sample for the study comprised six hundred and ninety six administrative staff of school boards and four hundred and sixty seven secondary school principals in the five South – Eastern States of Nigeria through random sampling techniques. Six research questions and six null hypotheses guided the study. An instrument of 40 items on effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools was developed and used for the field study. The face validity of the items was done by five experts from the Faculty of Education, University of Nigeria Nsukka. Construct validity was also carried out by the use of factor analysis involving the Varimax rotation. Out of the forty (40) items that were subjected to factor analysis, thirty (30) items were found to be valid. They were loaded on six factors that addressed the variables. The surviving thirty (30) items were subjected to internal consistency reliability estimate using Cronbach alpha which yielded a reliability indices of 0.66, 0.76, 0.74, 0.58 and 0.73 for clusters A, B, C, D E, and F respectively and an overall
reliability estimate of 0.90. Mean was used in answering six research questions while t-test statistic was used to test the six null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The results of the study revealed that principals should plan for the use of direct labour to reduce cost and plan for the economy of land as site of new buildings. The result indicated that principals should register the school under co-operate society through which building materials can be procured at a cheaper rate or hire purchase rates, and organize orientation for both staff and students on utilization of school buildings. The analysis also revealed that principals should establish school maintenance programme and encourage the communities to establish their own maintenance programme since they utilize the school buildings. The result also indicated that principals should carry out weekly inspections of school building and involves capable technical personnel for identifying major deficiencies after the normal activities in the school. The result of the study indicated that principals should make rules and regulations in securing secondary school buildings in South – Eastern states. Based on the findings of the study, recommended, among others, that principals should consult design experts before and during
the construction of new buildings and that principals should appoint capable technical personnel for regular inspection of school buildings.


Background of the Study

The role of principals in the management of secondary schools is vital for the realization of educational goals since principal are involved in the implementation of educational policies and programmes. One of the primary functions of secondary school principals, according to Idoko (2005), is management and maintenance of school plant. 

School plant, according to Agbonye (2006), is the same thing as physical facilities.
Emenalo (2007) explains that school plant is the entire scope of physical infrastructural facilities which are provided in the school for the school for the purpose of educating the child. Asiabaka (2008) postulates that school plant consist of all types of buildings, areas for sports and games, landscape, farms and gardens including trees and paths. Others include furniture and toilet facilities, storage facilities, transportation, Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T.), food services among others.
The above facilities play vital role in the actualization of educational goals and objectives by satisfying the physical and emotional needs of students and teachers of the school. Their availability, adequacy and relevance influence efficiency and high productivity.
It has always been realized that school plant is very important in the development of education in Nigeria.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in her National Policy on Education too pays considerable attention to the importance of the provision of school plant. She states in the document that provision and subsequent expansion will be made for vocational equipment and other facilities. Senior secondary schools are to have properly equipped workshops. In addition, provision for health centres in all educational institutions to cater for the children would be made.
School plant is very vital for the success of educational endeavour. When available and skillfully used, they make learning more meaningful. School plant provides experiences which stimulate self-activities on the part of the learner and these help to concretize the ideas and save the teacher from talk and chalk method. School plant is also essential for effective teaching and learning of every subject. It should be noted that, for school plant to be functional, they require proper planning, usage and maintenance for greater efficiency by the school administrators and the Secondary Education Management Board. For this reason, there has been a global concern for management of school plant in secondary schools by
school administrators, parents and teachers.
Achinine (1998) points out that one of the most important functions of secondary school administration in Nigeria is efficient management of school plant. In other words, the achievement of set goals and objectives depends on the ability of the school manager to make use of and maintain the physical facilities in the school. Management, according to Peretomode (2001), is the social or interactional process involving planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling or leading in order to use available resources to achieve a desired outcome in the fastest and most efficient way. Management of school plant, according to Onwurah (2004) includes procurement and maintenance of school facilities for
effective teaching and learning.
For the effective management of school plant in secondary schools, the school administrator needs to ensure that the school plant is properly maintained and utilized for the actualization of the educational goals. According to Idoko (2005), the principal is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the necessary facilities or materials needed for effective and efficient teaching and learning are provided and maintained as this will prevent a repeat occurrence of infrastructural decay.

The school administrator also makes sure that, the general appearance of the surrounding and condition of facilities in the school are well kept for this serves as an indicator for judgment about the quality of academic activities that go on in the school. Emenalor (2007) argues that, the construction of new buildings, and additions to existing ones are not the management of school plant, rather it involves the continuing operation and maintenance of the school plant.

Therefore, it is the duty of theschool administrator to harness all it takes to maintain the school plant as this will contribute a lot to its lasting effect. School plant maintenance means safeguarding and regular repair and supervision of school facilities. It implies maintaining the environment to make sure that it is clean, beautiful and safe for the activities that go on in the school. It is therefore a major and sensitive aspect of school administration.
However, most secondary schools in Nigeria and South – East in particular are in a state of disrepair. The state of physical facilities in secondary schools is in a deplorable condition. Bamide (2002) asserts that, there are broken, decayed and battered facilities in our schools which may not be as a result of old age but simply out of neglect. This statement is in agreement with Emenalo (2007), who maintains that, the poor condition of some school plant especially school buildings in secondary schools today is not as a result of old age per say but out of neglect. Today, it is a common phenomenon in secondary schools to see dilapidated buildings, broken chairs etc.
Most public secondary schools in the South-East look like abandoned construction site. There is hardly a public secondary school in the area that does not have blown-off building, just as most of them cannot boast of well-equipped laboratories. The classrooms are full of pot-holes due to licking roofs, just as most of the classrooms do not have doors and windows. In some of the schools the teachers stay under the tree in place of staff room because what is called staff room does not differ from a waste store. In most of the schools the sports fields are thorough fare because the official thorough fares are impassable due to damage by erosion. The situation neither motivates the teacher nor the students and this
affects the teaching and learning process adversely.
Commenting on the state of physical facilities in secondary school in the South-East state, Achinine (1998) points out that Federal Government needs to give attention to schools  in South-East because of the destructive effects of the Nigerian civil war. She observed that most of the buildings repaired after the wars are due for further renovation due to aging of the structures. However, Onyejemezie (2002) comments that, both the State and Federal Government through various schemes like Petroleum Trust Fund [PTF] and Education Trust Fund [ETF] have invested to ensure the improvement of the quantity and quality of physical plant in the schools and pleaded that more should be done to save these schools from the state of disrepair.

The few existing ones appear not to be receiving due attention from school administrators hence their poor state. The school administrators appear to lack the necessary skills to pay due attention to school plant. Their attention most often appear to be on financial
management from where they could put some money into their pocket through embezzlement and other illegal means like illegal levies, increasing external examination fees, awarding inflated contracts, among others.


Asiabaka (2008) maintains that, an aspect of school management that is generally over looked is facilities management. She argues that, when new buildings are constructed and taken over by the appropriate authorities, practically, no attention is paid to the management of such buildings, several school buildings that are over thirty years old have never undergone renovation or any form of modernization in spite of the changes in the
educational system. It is pertinent to note that, school plant management is an issue that concerns all levels of educational system. Some of these facilities according to Etuk (2007) are architecturally obsolete and therefore cannot contribute to functional education and maintaining the new buildings, renovating and modernizing the old ones require considerable expertise and commitment of human and material resources which the secondary school administrators cannot cope due to poor funding of schools by the government.
Ukeje cited in Agbonye (2006) asserts that, the responsibilities of Secondary Education Management Boards include direct control and management of post primary schools on all matters of policy, theories and practice of education. The foregoing shows that, the administrative staffs of Secondary Education Management Boards as stakeholders in school direct the principals of secondary schools towards effective management of school plant. The question is how knowledgeable are administrative staff of Secondary Education Management Board on facilities maintenance planning so as to properly direct the principals?
This question is answered by Bamide (2002) who reported that, some managers and teachers who constantly use school facilities lack knowledge of facilities maintenance planning as this maintenance is haphazardly addressed in our secondary schools. Repairs take place in most cases only when problems arise due to total breakdown of existing facilities. The facility maintenance plan as listed by Asiabaka (2008) – preventive, routine, emergency repairs andpredictive maintenance have been adopted by some school administrators for several years, yet school plant decay has been on the increase and no effective practices have been generally adopted in the management of school plant in secondary schools. This therefore underscores the need to investigate into effective practices in the management of school plant in secondary schools in South-East Nigeria.


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