The nature of teacher conflict and conflict management in sixteen selected primary schools in Lesotho.
Makibi, Marabele Alphoncina.
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This study examined the nature of teacher conflict and conflict management strategies employed by teachers in sixteen selected primary schools in the Pitseng region, Lesotho. The study was informed by the micro-political and organizational theories of Ball (1987), the two-dimensional model of conflict management proposed by Rahim (1983), and the model of oppression conceptualised by Young (2000). The study utilized a mixed methods approach. The sample included 16 schools and 163 teachers. The data collection techniques included a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings revealed that teachers experienced institutional, cultural and personal conflicts within the micro-politics of the school settings. The complexity of teacher conflict becomes evident in the intersection of factors such as educational policy, religion, cultural norms and beliefs, ideologies and social groupings within schools. It is argued that embedded in teacher conflict are forms of oppression and domination and related power struggles. Four cross cutting issues exacerbate teacher conflict in the study schools, and these are: poor communication or lack of dialogue, inadequate conflict management skills, ineffective school leadership, and teacher stress within schools. The study revealed that teachers used strategies that were located mainly in three conflict management domains: integrating, obliging and compromising. Power dynamics within schools, religious and cultural ideologies, norms and beliefs, and lack of support were viewed as barriers to effective conflict management. Lack of support from the school management was cited as a major problem in addressing teacher conflict in these schools. The study has important implications for policy implementation at school and national levels, teacher development and school leadership training. The focus of conflict management training should be on getting teachers to analyse conflict and situations that trigger conflict through a social justice lens. A key aim would be to build socially just and inclusive school cultures located in a rights discourse, and grounded in the principles of participation, accountability, social inclusion, non-discrimination and linkages to human rights standards.
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