AN ASSESSMENT OF TIME MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AS CORRELATE TO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS’ EFFECTIVENESS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN THE SOUTH WEST REGION OF CAMEROON
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The efficient and effective management of any organisation lies in the ability of the top management to put in place time management measures that would ensure constant administrative effectiveness and a comfortable working relationship between management and the followers. According to Nwabueze (2016), time is the most crucial resource to be considered in the performance of any activity. Similarly, Adeoji (2016) opined that time determines the imperativeness of any other resources in accomplishing organisational objectives and goals. This is to say that time is an indispensible resource that every manager needs to have and effectively manage to achieve the goals and objectives of an organisation.
Previous studies have been able to show the connection between principals’ time management and school outcomes as well as the challenges they face in the use of time. For instance, Grissom, Leob, and Mitani, (2013) in their study stated that there is a relationship between principals’ time use and school outcomes and they recommended that principals should properly manage their time. Similarly, Hallinger and Murphy (2013) in their study pointed out that finding time to perform multifarious tasks is one of the greatest challenges of leadership for school improvement in the principals’ job.
This is to say that effective time management constitute a huge challenge to educational administrators (principals) and time management have been seen in other studies to contribute to school improvement.
However, little have been done concerning identifying the time management practices used by principals, the functions that use most of their time and challenges they face in effectively manage their time.
Searching for a broader understanding of school leadership practice and the connection between leadership practice and school improvement, several recent studies in other different contexts have focused on how principals allocate their time within the work day (Camburn, Spillane & Sebastian 2010; Grissom et al., 2013).
With the several functions and roles of a principal as listed in (Decree No 80/293 art 6) which are; administrative, financial and pedagogic roles, ensures the application of time tables, syllabuses, and school legislation, supervision, presides over meetings, sign and certifies all outgoing documents and many others. , it therefore becomes imperative for principals to adopt effective time management practices. This is so because the timely discharge of administrative tasks and responsibilities is of great concern to administrators and managers in various sectors of the economy including the education sector. Time has been argued to be a scarce resource and principals must make decisions about how to allocate their time in their competing job demands Akinyemi & Ajayi (2020).
In support of this, Khan, Khan, Din and Khan (2016) in their study opined that time is one of the resources that an administrator needs to achieve proficiently in order to attain organizational goals.
The outcome of a school is one of the indicators that characterized an effective school. Therefore, the connection between time management practices and administrative effectiveness motivates the present study. Time management and its relationship to administrative effectiveness have largely been ignored in school leadership research within the school context. Lack of time has always been used as an excuse by educational administrators for not meeting their expected targets Akua (2016). Therefore, this study aims at investigating time management practices as correlate to school administrators’ effectiveness in secondary schools in the South West Region of Cameroon.
The study will be organized into five chapters. The first chapter will consist of the background to the study, statement of problem, research objectives, questions and hypotheses, justification of the study, significance of the study, delimitation of the study, operational definition of key terms and chapter summary.
Background to the Study
This section of the study is based on the historical, conceptual, theoretical and contextual backgrounds. The historical background shows the evolution of time management in organisations, the conceptual background briefly explains the main concepts of the study while highlighting the importance of effective time management to administrative effectiveness. The theoretical background briefly explains the main ideas of the theories to be used in the study and their relevance. Finally, the contextual background explains how secondary schools operate within the context of Cameroon education system, the laws that govern it and the expectations of principals.
Historically, time management has its roots from Taylor, back in the late 1800s, people have always searched for better and more efficient ways of doing things. Evidence of time management history can be reflected in the work of Taylor and Gilbreth (1922) which became the launching pad for today’s time management.
They said time management started as a quest to increase productivity in manufacturing companies as well as workers efficiency which later spread to the office, and eventually in organisations.
The industrial revolution of the 19th century and the rise of factories created a need to fabricate a new relationship with time. As factory work, unlike agrarian labour demanded punctuality, people learn how to live by the clock rather than the sun. During that period, schooling became much more about preparing students to become good factory workers with the right habits as punctuality and productivity became the overarching goals. Time is money said Benjamin Franklin, and this opinion became a mantra of the business world (Lakein, (1973) as cited in Akinfolarin (2017).
In 1991, Taylor published the Principles of Scientific Management, presenting his theory of management based on analysis and synthesis of workflow. The main objective was to improve worker’s productivity. Thereafter, the theories that adopted human relations such as the Hawthorn human relation theory were immediately followed and focused on building the organization from the social and human point of view, like individuals’ relations with each other, as well as with their superiors and with others inside or outside the institution thereby bring in time management in the school context (Brook & Mullins, (1989) as cited in Akinfolarin 2017).
Initially, time management referred to business or work activities but today, time management definition has broadened to encompass our personal values as well as our working lives. This is to say that time management has evolve to show how individuals personality influence time management therefore, good time management has been viewed to improve our work-life balance and general happiness unlike before.
Amen (1998) as cited in Akinyemi (2020) opined that a good time management system is a designed combination of processes, tools, techniques and methods. Time management had usually been seen as a necessity in any project management as it determines the project completion time and scope. Some aspect of time evolution could also be seen in the work of Frank and Gilbreth (1922) who had equally impact it by introducing time and motion study to manufacturing processes. Their work gave rise to industrial engineering, time studies and incentive standards, and a continuous pursuit of efficiency, not only in plants (manufacturing companies) but in the offices as well.
According to Frank and Gilbreth (1922) as cited in (Akinyemi 2020), many today’s time management books still emphasize efficiency and increased productivity with little emphasis on effectiveness and life balance. This may account for one of the reasons most principals are faced with challenges in effectively managing their time at work to carry out their tasks thus, leading to ineffectiveness experienced by some principals in their administration and unable to even strive for a balance life even after work. Although, time management had started over a hundred years ago, the need for time management now is greater than ever. As the pace of life increases, the perception of time changes.
A long time ago, time factor have been seen as a fundamental asset for both individuals and organisations.
Recently, modern concepts of management like time management had their origin in the Indian Vedanta in terms of self-control, Self-management and self-development have been highlighted in the Ancient Indian Scriptures. Three disciplines: Brahmacharya (Self-Control), Ahimsa (Non-Injury) and Satyam (Truthfulness) are the fundamental eternal values for regulation of physical, mental and intellectual layers of personality. When the three disciplines: Brahmacharya, Ahimsa and Satyam are followed, one can effectively improve self-management. Satija and Satija (2013) had asserted that time management draws more values from Brahmacharya.
Decades ago, Macan (1994) cited in Kalu (2016) pinpointed that learning time management behaviours lead to greater perception of control over time. Macan’s (1994) process model of time management behaviour included three attributes: setting goals and priorities; the mechanics of time management behaviour and a preference for organisation. Banfield of Harvard University conducted more than fifty years of research into the attitudes and behaviors of high-performing people, both in America and worldwide and found out that high-performing people are people who manage their time effectively. Macan (1994) identified one special quality that seemed to separate the high performers from the low performers.
He called it “long time perspective.” Macan found that high performers effectively manage time. The importance of time management has been felt and empirical studies on it has been gaining popularity in the decades although, studies on time management practices used by principals and the challenges they face in managing time is lacking.
During the last two decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of time in the organizational literature. According to Orlikowsky and Yates (2002), the temporal dimension of work has become more important because of expanding global competition and increased demands for immediate availability of products and services. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for the growing interest in time management is the occurrence of economic, cultural, social, and technical developments, which have been reflected on the various institutions, organizations and bodies and have made a great impact on the work within.
Thus, increasing the effectiveness of the administrators in the exploitation of their time during the working hours, and raising the level of their skills and possibilities in work programming, analyzing, and organizing to accomplish their duties faster with less effort, and higher efficiency within the time available to him (Pozen, 2012).
Garhammer (2002) pointed at the increased pace of life shown in doing things faster (acceleration), contracting time expenditure (e.g. eat faster, sleep less), and compressing actions (making a phone call while having lunch). Other studies have examined the perception of time in organizational contexts and the experience of time pressure among employees (Major et al., 2002).
This present study aims at examining the perception of time in the school contexts and the experience of time pressure among school principals.
Conceptually, time as defined by Nwaiwu (2000) is the interval between the beginning and the end of an operation. Nwaiwu (2000) is one of the scholars that made known the fact that time is so delicate that it cannot be saved but can only be spent and once misused, it can never be regained. Management on the other hand is defined as the act or skill of dealing with people or situations in a successful way.
Therefore, time management can be defined as a period, either short or long, which involves how people use their time judiciously to produce results (Adeojo, 2016). In the context of our study, results are looked in the direction of administrative effectiveness. That is to say effective time management could as well enhance administrative effectiveness.
According to Shirley (2008), better time management can be achieved if goals have been set and then all future work is prioritised based on how it moves the individual or organisation towards meeting the goals. From the opinion of Shirley, one can see that one of the aspects of time management practices is goal setting which constitute one of the indicators of the study.
The value of time management lies in the fact that people have many tasks they need to do but not enough time for the things they want to do. Therefore, time management helps identify needs and wants in terms of their importance and matches them with time and other resources (Ezine, 2008). From the opinion of Adeojo (2016), time management brings orderliness while empowering one to be more productive and fulfilled. Analysing the views of the above scholars, it is evident that without time management, the efficient and effective use of other relevant resources would be impossible or difficult to attain. Therefore, as reiterated by Ugwulashi (2011), time management stands as an effective tool necessary for organisational effectiveness in the realisation of set objectives and goals. Principals in secondary schools have to adopt good time management practices to effectively carry out their numerous activities.
Consequently, any productive system, whatever its structure be it human, technology or financial support requires efficient and effective time management procedure. Scholars differ in the way they define time management. According to North (2004), time management is the organisation of tasks or events by first estimating how much time a task will take to be completed, when it must be completed, and then adjusting events that would interfere with its completion in the appropriate amount of time. This is seen as planning which is also an essential skill required for effective time management.
Furthermore, Achunine (2004) defined time management as the effective and efficient utilization of a manager’s or an administrator’s corporate time to achieve organizational and personal goals. It involves identifying tasks to be performed, planning and scheduling of organizational activities, prioritizing such activities, allocating time to the tasks according to their degree of importance in enhancing productivity, minimizing interruptions and frivolities and dealing with routine tasks in such a way that the truly important tasks could receive due attention. This definition of Achunine (2004) on time management is elaborate as it has mentioned some good characteristics of time management practices which are; identifying tasks to be performed, planning and scheduling of activities, prioritizing activities, allocating time to tasks according to their degree of importance and minimizing interruptions.
To elucidate, Fybin (2012) looked at time management slightly different from the other authors by saying that, it is all about taking conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities with the purpose to increase productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Some time management practices as indicated by Fybin are effective scheduling, goal setting, prioritizing and choosing what to do and what not to do, delegating tasks, analyzing and reviewing spent time, organizing workspace, keeping concentration and focus at work and motivating one’s self to work towards a goal.
It should be understood that in the context of our study, time management is not about getting more things done in a day. It is about getting all the things that matter most done for the day. Obviously time management is a very important administrative tool in carrying out daily duties of administrators. Mullins (2005) pointed out that whatever the attributes or qualities of a successful manager, or the quality of subordinate staff, one essential underlying criterion is the effective use of time. This is to say that one of the secrets of successful principals in the execution of their administrative activities is effective time management. Across the globe, current changes within the various levels of education, with increased challenges, expectations and the need to operate and achieve success have made the tasks of the educational administrators more cumbersome and challenging. Therefore, if administration is to facilitate teaching and learning for example, how one schedules the various tasks and allocates commensurate amount of time to the various tasks, determines to a large extent the productivity level of the school (Kalu, 2012).
On the other hand, Administrative effectiveness is the progressive response to administrative efforts and activities with the purpose to achieve stated goals. The administrative performance in making decision, delegation of duties to subordinates, setting good examples and inspiring the teachers and students alike in an effort to generate a conducive working atmosphere to achieve school goal and objective seem to enhance subordinate performance for school success. Mgbodile (2004) said administrative effectiveness of secondary school principal is observed as a factor inhibiting accomplishment of goals and objectives in secondary schools.
Administrative effectiveness involves efforts and technical skills directed towards organizational tasks leading to goals achievement. Similarly, Akomolafe (2012) defined administrative effectiveness as the positive response to administrative efforts and actions with the intention to accomplish stated goals. Administrative effectiveness can be measured through school administrators’ extent of accountability, school performance improvement, curriculum improvement, effective resources management, monitoring, appropriate delegation of tasks, timely discharge of duties and constant meeting of targets.
The smooth running and uninterrupted activities of any organization require high level of administrative skills of the leader. Most school administrators face difficulties in meeting deadlines and curriculum targets thus making them ineffective. The principal is the chief administrator of the secondary level of education and should always discharge his or her duties in a timely manner for overall effective administration.
Concerning time management and administrative effectiveness, Akinfolarin (2017) had reiterated that effective time management skill is needed for administrative effectiveness. Principals with good time management practices allocate more time in ensuring quality instructional delivery in their schools. Similarly, Akinfolarin and Rufai (2017), said that to have an effective administration, school administrators’ must communicate school goals in a timely manner to staff and students and that this equally depend on principals’ ability to manage time and other resources to ensure administrative effectiveness.
Mullins (2005) pointed out that whatever, the attributes or qualities of successful managers are, or the qualities of subordinate staff are, one essential underlying criterion is the effective use of time. If a school leader is incompetent in effective use of time, all the administrative and managerial efforts for school improvement will be a waste. Principals’ appropriate management of time in secondary schools enhances teachers’ coverage of scheme of work which invariably improves students’ academic performance. Considering the implication of principals’ time management and its useful effects on administrative effectiveness in schools, this study’s intent will be to investigate specifically the time management practices as well as challenges faced by school principals in managing their time.
According to Akinyemi and Ajayi (2020) some school principals prefer to run a ‘one man show’ administration so as to take all the credit.
This category of school principals prefer to carry out administrative tasks without involving staff nor delegating such duties to competent staff. Due to poor time management, these principals in most cases are usually unable to finish all these responsibilities which directly affect administrative effectiveness in most schools. Recently, Akinyemi and Ajayi (2020) said that in the school system, there are many functions that can be deputised to both teaching and non-teaching staff. Delegation of duties or responsibilities is a significant aspect of attaining time management in the school system. No matter how large the school is, whether big or small, the principal cannot perform all the functions alone, he needs to delegate functions to his staffs for effective time management and school administration.
Similarly, Omenu (2015) said that there are cases where the school principal performs the bursar’s duty, and sometimes the duties of the vice-principal.
Instead of delegating such duties to the proper person, they prefer to carry out such duties by themselves due to reasons best known to them thereby abandoning their essential duties thus affecting administrative effectiveness. Omenu (2015) equally reiterated that some secondary school principals allow some school and personal activities to affect each other as they fail to schedule these events and monitor their time usage which harmfully affects administrative effectiveness. Unexpected and unscheduled interruptions are among the biggest time wasters in every organisation.
Many people come to work in the morning and begin chitchatting with their coworkers, and then continue for the next two or three hours. In many environments, people don’t really start serious work until about 11:00 a.m., and then soon it is time to break for lunch. After lunch, they come back and chitchat. All these affect effectiveness.
Nwaiwu (2000) indicated that time is the interim between the beginning and the end of an activity and that it is delicate and cannot be spared yet must be spent, and once abused, it can never be recaptured. Finally, Gordon and Borkan (2014) added that managing time builds one’s efficiency, limits burnout, advances progression, and improves individual and expert fulfillment.
Theoretically, this study will be guided by four theories namely; the Goal Setting theory, Pickle Jar theory which is a recent theory of time management, Maslow hierarchy of needs theory and Performance theory. Below, is a brief review of the theories that will guide the study and their relevance to the study while in chapter two, they will be reviewed in details.
The goal setting and task performance theory developed by Lockes and Lathams (1990) states that goals must be specific, measurable and timed. This means that when individuals are given the time necessary to achieve a goal, there have to be clear unambiguous measures for the goal and the opportunity to train or learn whatever is required to reach the goal. With these steps, there is overall improvement in institutional and individual performance Locke and Latham (1990). According to the theory, there appear to be two cognitive determinants of behavior: values and intentions (goals). A goal is defined simply as what the individual is consciously trying to do. Locke and Latham postulated that the form in which one experiences one’s value judgments is emotional. That is, one’s values create a desire to do things consistent with them. Goals also affect behavior (job performance) through other mechanisms.
For Locke and Latham, goals, therefore, direct attention and action. Furthermore, challenging goals mobilize energy, lead to higher effort, and increase persistent effort. Goals motivate people to develop strategies that will enable them to perform at the required goal levels. Finally, accomplishing the goal can lead to satisfaction and further motivation, or frustration and lower motivation if the goal is not accomplished. Under the right conditions, goal setting can be a powerful technique for motivating organization members.
The goal setting theory is relevant to this study for reason that, the programmes and activities of every educational institution are time-regulated and rest in the hands of administrators (principals as in the case of our study) and academic staff (teachers) for the achievement of educational objectives. Given that multiple tasking is very common in secondary school system, activities and programmes must be followed and managed with time-tables since all tasks cannot happen at the same time.
By so doing, this will direct the principal’s attention and actions. It should be noted that the degree of success in goal attainment at educational institutions depends on how well the time resource which is very scarce is utilized or managed in the process of carrying out school activities. The central purpose of administration in general is the systematic coordination of human and material resources towards the attainment of predetermined objectives of the given institution with respect to time. Hence, having a specific and timed task in itself provides a major source of motivation to actually reach the goal.
The pickle jar theory is the latest theory of time management developed by Jeremy Wright after his series of studies in 2002.
The pickle jar theory is a time management theory primarily based on the idea that, time is a finite space, like a pickle jar, but one can fill it with things of different shapes and sizes with respect to time. The pickle jar theory states that activities and responsibilities of people need to be balanced using effective time management system (Wright, 2002). Time is approximately allocated for everything and things fit well where they are expected to do so. This theory is predicated on the fact that individuals have many priorities in lives such as studies, workload, leisure, family responsibilities, sleep and rest, which must be followed with time.
According to the theory, none of these tasks is bad, but what is important is efficient management in the midst of time constraints in order to enhance performance in various areas of life. Pickle jar theory, as it relates to time management for quality teaching and administration of secondary schools, emphasizes the need to identify one’s greatest priorities during the day.
Time management is important to everyone. Controlling how much time one spends on various activities and choosing which activities take priority is at the heart of effective time management. Without a clear understanding about time management theory, it is difficult to formulate a strategy and come up with an action plan that will help to manage time effectively (Wright, 2002).
The Pickle jar theory of time management is relevant to the study in that the principal has many activities to attend in a single school day. Aside the school activities, the principal also have personal needs that he/she has to create time to satisfy them as well. Therefore, for this reason, effective time management skill for every principal is indispensable.
The Pickle jar theory has made us to understand that in a school system that the principal has many functions such as pedagogy, administration, financial and social function to attend to, when the principal fail to appropriately plan his activities, the realization of the school goals would be difficult.
Motivation is a way of creating high level of enthusiasm to reach organizational goals, and this situation is accommodated by satisfying some individual need. Basically, motivation refers to achieving organizational main goals by satisfying individual employee’s needs or demands. The concept relates to the work context specifically, and includes the influence on work behavior of both environmental forces, and those inherent in the person.
Improving productivity is one big challenge that engages the attention of employers, whether private or public by devising appropriate mechanism for motivating their workers. The seriousness of this challenge can be understood from the management’s perception of the strong functional correlation between employee motivation and organizational productivity.
Maslow (1953) stated that only unsatisfied needs provide the sources of motivation; a satisfied need creates no tension and therefore no motivation. Motivation is such an important element in improving work productivity, every educational administrator needs to have a firm understanding of how it relates to job satisfaction and reward systems. Based on numerous state and national studies concerning the condition of schools, a great deal of time, energy, and effort is expended by educational administrators trying to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of educational delivery systems.
Understanding job satisfaction and work motivation can be key elements to improving educational productivity. A review of the literature on motivation from three of the foremost theorists on motivation, Maslow, Herzberg and McClelland, indicates that typical reward system used in public schools satisfies only the hygiene factors and does not address the higher level needs that truly motivate people.
The theory of motivation is relevant to the study in that motivation is very important for the managers and officers to know and understand why people behave differently at workplace and how to manipulate their behavior so that they exert their best efforts to achieve organizational goals, the time factor that the activities have to be perform has to be taken into consideration.
No work is done on space and because every organization has goals and objectives it aim to achieve within a time frame, principals as managers/administrators of their school have to effectively manages their time so as to coordinate the activities of their subordinates. While the goals and objectives of an organization (school as in the context of our study) must be “SMART”, with ‘T’ which stands for ‘time bound, this implies that even the administrators themselves have to manage their time well to attain the objectives of their institutions within the specify time frame.
Performance is a multi-dimensional concept. On the most basic level, Borman and Motowidlo (1993) distinguish between task and contextual performance. Task performance refers to an individual’s proﬁciency with which he or she performs activities which contribute to the organization’s ‘technical core’. This contribution can be both direct (in the case of production workers), or indirect (in the case of managers or staff personnel). On the other hand, contextual performance refers to activities which do not contribute to the technical core but which support the organizational, social, and psychological environment in which organizational goals are pursued.
Motowidlo et al. (2000) said that organizations need highly performing individuals in order to meet their goals, to deliver the products and services they specialized in, and ﬁnally to achieve competitive advantage.
Performance is important for the individual. Accomplishing tasks and performing at a high level can be a source of satisfaction, with feelings of mastery and pride while low performance and not achieving the goals might be experienced as dissatisfying or even as a personal failure. Although there might be exceptions, high performers get promoted more easily within an organization and generally have better career opportunities than low performers (Motowidlo et al., 2000). The high relevance of individual performance is also reﬂected in work and organizational psychological research.
The performance theory is relevant for the study in that it emphasis on the need for principals to demonstrate both task and contextual performance to effectively achieve the goals and objectives of the educational institutions they are heading. The theory equally made us to know that goals and objectives of an organisation like the school cannot be attain if the head of the institution is performing poorly.
Every school needs high performing principals and, the manner in which the principal manages his/her time is as important as well. This is so because the goals and objectives of a school have to be attained within a specific time frame and therefore, principals have to be conscious in the execution of their functions/roles. It is for this reason that they have to spend their time well.
Contextually, it is generally believed that the primary objective of a school is comprised in the whole concept of teaching while the secondary objective of the school is comprised of the concept of administration which enables the achievement of the primary objective (Fonkeng & Tamajong, 2003). Administration is concerned with the effort to guide the day to day activities of the work group. One of the most important functions of a secondary school principal is the pedagogic function which requires intelligence, dynamism, pedagogic competence, open mindedness, team spirit, respect for others, tact and personal commitment (Mbua, 2003).
It is sometimes described as “management of personnel” and “management of materials”. Here, the school administrator must control, and coordinate the personnel in order to stimulate pedagogic activities and students creativity with the view to promote an active school life. This requires coordinating the teaching team and solving practical and personnel problems.
Therefore, at regular interval, the school administrator should convene the teaching staff (staff meetings) and various school councils to take stock, provide school life with information, compare methods and evaluate results. This function therefore called on the school administrator to make frequent checks of the teaching activities. To achieve this, the school administrator occasionally needs to visits classroom, attend classes, vis-a-vis class record of work. In addition to this, the school administrator is the one who has to set up the pedagogic structure of the school, organizes classes and time table.
This can be described as management of time resources (Mbua, 2003). In carrying out such activities, time management by principals need to be over emphasised.
The effective use of time allocated for teaching and learning process is viewed as a resource for supporting the process and enhancing the productivity of the school life and these calls for the school administrator to operate in an effective and efficient manner. The school administrator who is the administrative head of the school plans, controls, commands, organizes and coordinates all the activities that take place in the school.
Edem (1990) explains that planning includes the day to day function of outlining the activities needed to accomplish the purpose of the enterprise and assigning them to individuals in the school.
This therefore means that the school administrator must prepare in advance a plan containing what teaching and administrative duties are, the school post and the qualification of personnel required for them. This technique is seen as job description, job analysis or job specification (Mbua, 2003).
Based on this, the functions of the school administrator are summarized as follow: he assures the pedagogic, administrative and financial management of his institution (Decree No 80/293 art 6); he is empowered to grade staff members; he ensures application of time-tables, syllabuses, school legislation; he visit classrooms for control and supervision of instruction; he ensures adequate security and maintenance of the school; he is the manager of all credits granted he is the only one entitled to incur expenses; he presides over school meetings; and, he alone is responsible for signing and certifying all outgoing documents of the school.
The Cameroon’s educational system according to the World Bank (2011) has over the past decades provided significant improvement in educational opportunities for children and youth especially at the basic and secondary level. However, unlike other Sub-Saharan African countries like Burundi and Tanzania that have made remarkable progress in providing quality education opportunities to its citizens, Cameroon is still lagging behind in some aspects.
The administrative effectiveness of principals cannot be ignored in the quest to provide quality education for students. This is so because, principals have to be effective in their administrative activities so that they would effectively and efficiently supervise, monitor, coordinate and even plan their activities.
The Education Forum of 1995 had long adopted policy orientations in the primary and secondary education sectors; which resulted in Law No 98/004 of 14th April, 1998 on the orientation of education in Cameroon.
The major objective of education in Cameroon as stated in section 4 of the law is: “… to train children for their intellectual, physical, civic, and moral development and their smooth integration into society bearing in mind the prevailing economic, socio-cultural, political and moral factors”. From the bases of the above objectives, education in the country is specifically aimed at; the promotion of science, culture and social progress; solidifying the sense of ethnic and national consciousness; promotion of democracy and the development of a democratic spirit; development of creativity, a sense of initiative and an enterprising spirit; promotion of bilingualism and the mastery of indigenous languages; physical, sporting, artistic and cultural training of the child and; the promotion of health education and hygiene, among others (Republic of Cameroon, 2005).
The achievement of the above education objectives in the country is dependent upon other factors such as the ability of administrators to rationally, constructively and effectively administer schools under their control. In other words, scholars have established elsewhere that, the administrative skills and processes of school administrators in the management of schools significantly determine administrative and school effectiveness. Time management is a very important skill that every school administrator needs to be able to carry out their functions and roles.
Muraina (2006) said that shared leadership, clear vision and mission, safe and orderly school environment, high expectations for students’ achievement, continuous assessment of student achievement, opportunity and time on task and positive home-school relations are important characteristics that every principal has to display. Time on task is a very important administrative skill that every principal should have. Without proper time management, secondary school principals would find it difficult to provide credible leadership in all domains of the school to ensure that all stakeholders work concomitantly towards the effective achievement of school goals and objectives (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Like elsewhere, secondary school administrators in Cameroon are responsible for providing leadership by working with all stakeholders to help drive these schools towards effectiveness or the attainment of educational goals. Within the school environment, the school administrator including his assistants and other administrative staffs are directly involved in ensuring the proper functioning of the school towards achieving its objectives (Mbua, 2003). One of the major predicaments bedeviling secondary school administration in Cameroon remains the absence of formal training programmes on school administratorship and school management for school administrators. Consequently, they rely mostly on the general basic administrative skills acquired during their training as school teachers from Higher Teacher Training Colleges (Ngwa, 2016 and Ngeh, 2017). This is coupled with the fact that some of the principals do not adequately understand the concept of time management in relation to effective administration.
Statement of the Problem