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  • Background to the study

Financial Management in organizations, firms and institutions had been a sensitive issue over the years. This is because the governmentand the public are interested on how funds are planned, controlled, andapplied for specific assignment to achieve specific objectives. In educational institutions, the realization of desired educational goals andobjectives depend largely on the efficient planning and management ofschool funds by the school administrators. In view of this, Amuseghan(2010), regretted that it is quite unfortunate that the little resources available are not effectively managed in our public schools.

It is one thing to raise funds, and another to ensure that the funds raised are well utilized by the school managers. In response to this fact,Ogbonnaya (2000), emphasized that resources are scarce and optimal utilization of the available resources is expedient. However, to ensure judicious spending of funds and accountability, school administrators(principals) plan and prepare budgets for their schools.

Budgeting according to Olufidipe (2003), is a process of preparing and using budgets to achieve management objectives. Ihedioha (2003), stated that budgeting is a systematic and formalized approach for stating and communicating the firm’s expectations and accomplishing the planning, coordinating and controlling responsibilities of management in such a way as to minimize the use of given resources to achieve maximum results. From the above definitions, budgeting may be seen as the process of carrying out a budget.

The budget, on the other hand, is a comprehensive and coordinated plan, expressed in financial terms, for the future. Ama(2001), regarded budget as a plan quantified in monetary terms, prepared and approved prior to a defined period of time, usually showing planned income to be generated and expenditure to be incurred during that period and the capital to be employed to a given objective. Kalu(2004) stated that a budget is a plan in form of a quantitative statement for a specific time span. It is deducted from the above definitions that a budget is a document that contains estimates of revenue and proposed expenditures usually for a fixed period of one year.

Budgeting has been a very important and useful part of the administrative strategy of organizations such as educational institutions right from ages. It has the fundamental importance of controlling the financial behavior of the administrators in the school system. Budgeting prevents wastage or reckless spending of funds provided for various educational services. The reason is that the operators of budget are compelled to follow the appropriate estimate in spending funds.

Budgeting has the technical functions of authorizing expenditure and serves as a microscope in analysis of details. It is an instrument for planning and controlling educational activities because it fosters coordination, communication and promotes efficiency in operating the business.

The budgeting practices in public secondary schools follow a systematic procedure. This includes budget planning, budget defense,budget approval and adoption, budget implementation and budget evaluation. As a result of the organizational structure of the SecondaryEducation System in Shendam, the budgetary practices are controlled at the Ministry of Education and SecondaryEducation Management Board (SEMB) levels. The principals of schools are not involved in all the stages of the budgeting practices mentioned above. They have highly engaged in the planning, defense and implementation stages while the Secondary Education ManagementBoards and Ministry of Education carry out budget approval, adoption, and evaluation.

The Ministry of Education and Secondary Education ManagementBoard (SEMB) do these jobs through the account supervisors who monitor and verify the financial activities of educational administrators. Kalu (2011), defined supervisors as professionals outside or within the school who work to improve the teaching/learning process. This shows that account supervisors are leaders who perform the periodic criticism, verification, clarification, and justification of financial activities of the schools through checking of the financial account records kept in the schools so that educational resources will not be misappropriated by fraudulent administrators. The school boards send budget guidelines to schools and request the principals to follow its specification objectively in planning and implementation of the school budget.

In the school system, many principals had been accused of poor budgeting practices by the supervisors, teachers, and parents. For instance, it has been observed by some authorities that the principals do not follow budget guidelines in planning and implementation of budget nor keep and use the necessary financial account records in the schools(Nzekwe, 2007). Little or no work is done on repairs of school buildings, provision of reagents and specimens for science practicals, sports and games are neglected due to poor budgeting practices of principals. Supporting this fact, Onyike (2009), regretted that poor budgeting has accounted for the seeming neglect and dilapidation of buildings and infrastructure in a greater percentage of schools over a decade particularly at the secondary school level.

All the above cases breed mistrust and suspicion. The principals tend to lose their prestige as financial heads and also lost control on the staff and students. In extreme cases, the school heads (principals) are called to pay back part of the misappropriated fund, and nothing is achieved in the school in such situations.

Principals of secondary schools must possess the administrative qualifications that will make them feel competent and confident before the staff they advise and guide. They are supposed to be well equipped through training in educational administration. This knowledge will help them to handle school budgeting effectively. Supporting this fact, Hassan(2009), suggested that the school leaders should be knowledgeable and competent in the techniques of management in the area of budgeting, accounting, and information management. Nelson (2005), maintained that for efficient managerial ability, training and retraining of principals must evolve.

School heads could be male as well as female. Gender is generally viewed as a major source of conflicting issues when it comes to the position of authority. Females are discriminated as far as top managerial posts are concerned while preference is given to males. It isa known fact that women are weaker vessels and as such are not expected to handle certain matters effectively as their male counterparts.In accordance with this, Kalu (2011), found that less authority and fewer resources are allocated to women than men in terms of powerful and rewarding positions – managerial positions are men’s territory, and women’s upward mobility to top positions is often blocked by political placement. Bird and Brush (2002), believed that women may not measure success in performance with their male counterparts for they try balancing work and family because of their primary responsibility for children. Watson and Robinson (2003), observed that females always underperform their male counterparts using a financial performance standard.This notwithstanding, many people have the opinion that women can perform well or even better than men. In this respect, Danes,Safford and Loy (2007), emphasized that women work harder, put moreweekly hours and effort in business management. Shehnaz(2001), found that women head teacher in government secondary schools of Rawalpindi are more competent than men. They were more communicative, kind, cooperative, and consultative than their male+counterparts who exercise authority. Males and females should have equal opportunities in top administrative and managerial positions in all fields of endeavor since the females could as well contribute to national development.

Despite the contributions of males as well as female in budgeting, the worry of many people is whether the principals in the theShendam Local Government Area gear their budgeting practices towards the attainment of secondary education goals as stipulated in the national policy on Education. Good budgeting practices of principals count a lot in raising the standard of secondary education for the benefit of the entire society. Principals of schools should rise to face the challenge of wise and judicious spending of funds by strictly following the budget process. The foregoing makes the researcher want to find out what the budgeting system in public secondary schools in Shendam Local government Area.

  • Statement of the Problem

In any situation where resources such as money, effort, time, and space are limited but what to use the resources for are not only unlimited but simultaneously demanding attention, budgeting becomes the most rational approach to deal with such situations. It follows that the secondary school principals should exhibit good and acceptable budgeting practices in order to achieve the objectives of secondary education.

Budgeting practices of principals of secondary schools in theSouth-Eastern states of Nigeria is facing a lot of criticism from well-meaning individuals and authorities. The principals in these states are accused of poor budgeting practices by the teachers, supervisors and parents. The poor budgeting practices may be due to the fact that most principals lack the technical know-how in school management and administration (budgeting). This could also be as a result of inadequate funding of secondary schools by the state government. Availability of funds determines to a large extent the level of budgeting activities and practices the principals can go. The progressive increase in school population should be followed by an increase in the provision of funds to cater for the diverse problems that may come up without which the school objectives will not be achieved. Ugwu (2005), observed that schools lack the adequate funds necessary to carry out their academic activities. The policy of controlling secondary school budgets by the Secondary Education Management Board through budget guidelines has put the principals in a straitjacket. The principals are not free to carry on the budgeting activities. They are under the strict control of the school boards. They may also not be given adequate time to plan and prepare their budgets. According to Ogbonnaya (2005), the principals do not give the other staff of the schools the opportunity to contribute facts during the planning stage of the budget. For this reason, the teachers may not be willing to implement what they were not part of the initial stage. Therefore, the budgeting practices of principals are fraught with public criticism and need to be explored. The study is designed to investigate principals and budgeting systems in public secondary schools in Shendam Local Government Area.

  • Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study is to examine principals and their budgeting system in public secondary schools in Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State. Specifically, the studysought to:

  1. ascertain the extent principals are guided by budget guidelines inplanning of budget.
  2. determine the extent principals are guided by budget guidelines in implementation of budget.

iii. determine the extent principals keep financial account records in the schools.

  1. ascertain how principals who are qualified in Educational Administration plan and implement budget.
  2. establish how the gender of principals influences the planning and implementation of budget.

1.4.  Research Questions

This study was guided by the following research questions.

  1. To what extent are principals guided by budget guidelines in Planning of budget?
  2. To what extent are principals guided by budget guidelines inimplementation of budget?
  3. To What extent do principals keep financial account records in the schools?
  4. How do principals who are qualified and those who are not qualified in Educational Administration plan and implement budget?
  5. How does the gender of the principals influence budget planning andimplementation?

1.5. Significance of the study

Budget is a control measure that disciplines the principals and helps in the achievement of the set goals and objectives of secondaryeducation. The findings of this study will help the secondary schooladministrators (principals), bursars, the Ministry of Education andSecondary Education Management Boards (SEMB), parents and futureresearchers.

The findings of this study will create awareness in thesecondary school administrators on how budget should be practiced inschools. The results will be useful to the Secondary School ManagementBoards to gain insight on how principals plan and implement budget andother matters affecting budget. Through the recommendations of thestudy, Secondary Education Management Board will be able to evaluatetheir budget guidelines and budget documents to determine theirweaknesses strength and make amendments were necessary. This willgreatly help in the achievement of educational objectives at secondaryschools level. The result of this study when put in practice will be usefulto the State Ministries of Education and other educational agencies whoare policy makers especially in the area of financial management andbudgeting to formulate effective fiscal policy for secondary schoolsystem. To provide adequate fund for maintaining school buildings,furniture and vehicles to avoid dilapidation of school buildings. The stategovernment, from the findings of this study, will provide in-servicetraining for principals through seminars in budgeting and give positions of authority to both males and females on equal level.

Besides these, the result of this study will be ofimmerse benefit to bursars who will advance their knowledge in budgeting. It will help themto have in-sight on their limit of participation in budgeting and otherschool financial activities. This study will also be of benefit and interest to parents who will have idea of the financial management of the principals,offer solution and ensure greater participation of parents in theeducational affairs of their children and wards.

Finally, this study will serve as stepping stone to futureresearchers who may be interested in conducting further research infinancial management and budgeting.

1.6. Scope/Delimitation of the study

The content scope of this study covered principals and budgeting system in public secondary schools. The study is restricted to selected secondary schools principals public schools in Shendam Local Government Area.

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