Background to the Study
Information and communication technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes the manipulation or application of any communication device encompassing radio, television, telephones, fax machines, cellular phones, computers, computer accessories, computers network, hardware and software, satellite systems as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as video-conferencing and distance learning. It is a system of computer and telecommunication technologies that are used in the acquisition, analysis and transmission of information to ensure effective and efficient administration of organizations. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2002) defined ICT as the range of technologies that are applied to the process of collecting, storing, editing, retrieving and transfer of information in various forms.
Operationally, information and communication technology is the combination of networks, hardware and software, as well as means of communication, collaboration and engagement that enable the processing, management, and exchange of data, information and knowledge between individuals and institutions for effective and efficient management. Indeed, people in organizations can only do their work effectively if they receive accurate and timely information (Maki, 2008). This is so because organizations and schools depend on information systems to support the flow of data, information and knowledge.
In order to achieve effective data collection, data entry and data flow for making internal processes more powerful, it is necessary to utilize ICT in school administration. Adeyemi and Olaleye (2010) stated that ICT is necessary in the areas of budgeting, collection and keeping of students’ data, collection of staff data, recording of results and effective keeping of school records. Nwosu (2003) noted that ICT assists the school administrator to meet the tasks of school management in the areas of curriculum and instruction, school-community relationship and school business operations. Mohammed (2006) observed that the introduction of ICT in schools enhance the daily routine, programmes, updating the evaluation of school programmes and solving individual, group and staff development challenges. This study will explore the utilization of ICT in secondary school administration in Nsukka Education Zone.
The use of ICT in the school administration is fast becoming an indispensible tool for teachers and administrators. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) observed that the ability to access and use information is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for development (Adomi and Kpangban, 2010). This assertion has implications on our school system, as it implies that the effective use of ICT is currently a prerequisite not only for sustainable development but also for effective and efficient school administration
The current developments in Nigeria have made it even more pertinent for the use of ICT in secondary school administration. This include the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) plan to introduce computer-based tests in the 2013 University Matriculation Examinations (Ezeike, 2012) and various public and private establishments that currently conduct ICT-based job advertisements, applications and assessments for secondary school leavers. As a result, students from poor ICT based schools may find themselves unable to gain admission into universities, access job advertisements, apply for jobs and examinations, and pass examinations due to lack of proper exposure to ICT utilization. Eventually this can result to students’ dropout from such schools in their search for more result-oriented schools. In the face of these realities, secondary schools that do not embrace the innovations inherent in the utilization of ICT may not survive, because ICT is considered to be part of an extensive modernization of administration and education.
Despite the importance of ICT in school administration, some experts are still worried about the situation in Nigerian schools. Etudor-Eyo, Ante and Emah (2011), indicated that administration of secondary schools in Nigeria is largely dominated by the use of manual or analogue operational methods, as secretaries and typists still working with outdated typewriters are common sights in most, if not all, of the principals’ offices. This study will investigate the use of digital technologies in the secondary schools under study in other to throw more light on the above assertion of Etudor–Eyo, Ante and Emah already cited.
Administration constitutes the most important human activity in all organizations and has been viewed as an art as well as a science. Those who view administration as an art believe that administration, like all art, belongs to those who have the natural gifts, traits or abilities for it; while those who view it as a science believe that the application of principles and rules play crucial roles in solving administrative and organizational problems. Administration is consequently the art and science of getting things done effectively and efficiently. Sergiovani and Starrat (1980) define it as the process of working with and through others to efficiently accomplish organizational goals. Ogbonna (1995) sees it as the totality of the process which entails the utilization of human, financial and material resources in maximizing the realization of goals.
Effective and efficient administration is needed to sustain educational institutions. Educational administration is the art and science of making use of both human and material resources within and outside the school for the realization of the school’s objectives. It involves the planning and organization of activities and resources aimed at fulfilling the goals of an educational institution. Ezeocha (1990) sees educational administration as a way of coordinating and controlling the scarce resources of an educational institution, namely, manpower, finance and capital equipment so as to achieve desired educational objectives. In this study administration implies the various activities of the school principals requiring the use of ICT, such as the management of instruction, school-community relations management, school plant management, and financial management, as well as student management and staff personnel management.
Secondary school administration can thus be defined as the coordination and control of the scarce manpower, finance and material resources of secondary schools towards the attainment of the objectives of the schools. In specific terms, Arikewuyo (1999) viewed the functions of the secondary school administrators in terms of the provision of leadership for curriculum development; provision of leadership for instructional improvement; creation of environment conducive for the realization of human potentials; influencing the behavior of staff members; and supervision of instructional activities in the school system. A secondary school administrator is consequently the person who plans, organizes, coordinates and controls the resources of an institution for the achievement of the goals of enhanced teaching and learning. Operationally, secondary school administration is defined as the management of instruction, student personnel, staff personnel, community relations, school resources and finances by the principals and teachers for the purpose of ensuring effective and efficient input and the efficient achievement of the objectives of secondary education.
In the context of this study, both principals and teachers are referred to as administrators, because, within the limits of their duties, they perform administrative functions at class or school levels. This study will consequently seek to assess the utilization of ICT by both principals and teachers in the performance of their respective administrative functions.
Several factors can influence effective utilization of ICT by school administrators. Some of these factors include gender, experience and age. Gender refers to the fact of being a male or female, or the stereotypes attached to being male or female. Spacey, Goulding & Murray (2003) noted that there has been much debate across disciplines as to whether females face more problems than males in their use of computers. Women seem to be afraid of technology, computers and the internet (Perry and Greber, 1990; Spacey, Goulding and Murray, 2003). Harris (1999) found that women are more threatened by technology than men. Olatokun, (2009) found that a gender digital divide exists in Oyo state, Nigeria, that male respondents were more capable of using ICT than female respondents. Spacey, Goulding and Murray (2003), however, noted that results are mixed, even as Rosenthal and Spielberg (1996) found out that gender has no real influence on internet use. These differences may be due to the fact that socio-cultural situations vary from one geographic location to another. This study will contribute in this controversy as it intends to find out if gender of a secondary school administrator does have any significant influence in the utilization of ICT in the school.
In order words, experience in the context of this study, refers to the number of years the administrator has served as a teacher or principal. Experience may also influence the attitude of school administrators towards the adoption of new innovations. In the context of this study, experience is synonymous with length of service. Usually it denotes the period of time a person has been continually employed in an organization, without break in the employment. It is generally believed that the professional experience of an administrator influences his performance in carrying out responsibilities. It may also influence his responsiveness to the use of information and communication technology, a factor that this study intends to investigate. Janes (2002), Spacey, Goulding and Murray (2003) and Adekunle, Omoba and Adeyinka (2007) reported that ICT knowledge and experience are positively correlated with attitude towards using ICT. Nevertheless, they did not define experience in terms of length of service; they defined it in terms of the length of time during which one has used ICT. Papaioannou and Charalambous (2011), on the other hand, defined experience in terms of years of service. They reported that years of service affect an administrator’s attitude towards the utilization of ICT in the performance of his administrative functions. This study is geared towards assessing the impact of length of service on secondary school administrators’ ICT utilization in schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
Age is also an important demographic variable that may affect the attitude of an administrator. It refers to the number of years that a person has lived. This factor may affect the performance of an administrator and his propensity to accept and imbibe innovations. It is usually taken for granted that younger people are more positively inclined towards the use of technology in everyday living. Adeyinka (2009) agreed that age might hav e a bearing on the attitude of librarians and their subsequent usage of ICT. Arthur (1998) noted that there is a common mirth that older staff are unwilling to learn new skills. Rosenthal and Spielberg (1996) found out that older staff are less likely to use the internet, even as Spacey, Goulding, Murray (2003) reported that younger workers had higher average intention to use the internet than their older counterparts. Similarly, in a study conducted in Oyo State, Nigeria, Olatokun (2009) found out that younger respondents were more likely to use ICTs than the older respondents. Nevertheless, Spacey et al (2003) contend that findings from literature are mixed. These differences may be due to the fact that socio-cultural situations vary from one geographical location to another. This study intends to determine whether an administrator’s age has a significant impact on his ICT utilization in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State, Nigeria.
In addition to the afore-mentioned factors, power supply, government ICT policies, availability of ICT facilities, maintenance of ICT facilities, training and re-training of staff, availability of funds and provision of incentives can influence the utilization of ICT by secondary school administrators. Khan, Hassan and Clement (2012) opined that non availability of ICT facilities, inadequate power supply, insufficient funds, inadequate government vision and plan, attitude of administrators, lack of knowledge and skills and lack of time, play a crucial role in affecting the utilization of ICT by school administrators. The impacts of these factors may vary from place to place. As such, a factor that negates the effective utilization of ICT in one part of the world may be nonexistent in another part of the world. In addition to the aforementioned factors, Adeyinka (2009) Observed that the attitude of an individual do determine whether he would readily use ICT or not. The essence of this study is to find out whether the afore-mentioned factors affect the utilization of ICT by secondary school administrators in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State.
These factors are known to influence the scope of an administrator’s duties. According to Mgbodile (1997), the scope of an educational administrator’s duties include management of instructional programmes, staff personnel administration, student personnel administration, finance and physical resources management, and school-community relations. It is consequently his duty to develop and implement the educational programmes of the school, request for more staff, provide facilities and equipment, keep school records, and create a conducive teaching and learning atmosphere.
The school administrator is therefore a person whose job it is to manage and organize the affairs of the institution. Mgbodile (2003) observed that the school principal’s roles include provision of instructional leadership by ensuring that instruction is consistent and effective. He maintains order and discipline, as well as the management of the school’s financial resources and school plant facilities. He plays a major role in the achievement of set educational objectives by improving work performance of teachers, non-academic staff and students. In fact, the administrator is the most important and influential individual in any secondary school system.
Leadership in instructional delivery is the cardinal aspect of his duties. It is widely accepted among educational experts that it is the first and most important responsibility of the educational administrator. This is so because the school exists for the primary purpose of inculcating worthwhile values, attitudes, skills and competencies to the students. Mgbodile (1997) asserts that the school cannot be deemed to be effectively administered if it is seen to be lagging behind in academic performance and instructional delivery.
Staff personnel administration forms the second cardinal leadership responsibility of the school administrator. According to Mgbodile (1997), teachers are the most potent weapons in the hands of the administrator in achieving educational objectives. They should consequently be handled carefully as they possess the capacity to make or mar the school and its programmes (Mgbodile, 1997; Oboegbulem, 2003a).
Student personnel administration comes next. It involves the activities and services which are geared towards guiding and supervising students towards the achievement of the school’s objectives. It is the responsibility of the school administrator to provide adequate student services that supplement teaching and learning (Mgbodile, 1997). Great emphasis is supposed to be placed on services rendered to students because the school was not built to cater for the interest of teachers, parents and educational administrators, but for students’ interest.