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Educational administration and its principles


Educational administration and its principles

Read about the principles of Educational administration. These administrative leadership principles serve as operational guide to administrative actions.

Principles are said to be generalizations with substantial support. it is said that the earliest attempts to develop educational administration as a discipline started with principles thus its importance in educational administration cannot be over emphasized, koontz and O’Donnell [1968:13] believed that ”when management principles are developed, proved and used, managerial efficiency will inevitable improve”. These administrative leadership principles serve as operational guide to administrative actions.

Educational administration and its principles - Photo
Educational administration and its principles – Photo

Major categories of administrative principles

The five major categories of administrative principles according to nwankwo [1982] are;

  1. The Humanitarian principles
  2. Principle of equality of opportunity
  3. Principle of security
  4. Prudential principles
  5. Bureaucratic principles

Humanitarian principles

These principles border on issues affecting the well-being of individuals in an organization and seek to promote their welfare through the elimination of fear, pain, anxiety and suffering [akubue 1991]. the humanitarian principles consist of:

  • Democracy
  • Justices
  • Good human relationship


this requires that every democratic order must involve all those to be affected by any decision to be part of the decision making process. such a democratic administration which accords the individuals and groups composing it, the opportunity of participating in policy formulation and implementation is characterized by:

  • Action involving the group during policy decision
  • Implementation of decisions in line with democratically established procedures.
  • Attitude and behavior, that respect the dignity and worth of individuals in respect of certain variables like creative potentials, abilities, capacities, background, experience, interest and needs of these individuals [Akubue 1991:132].

The establishment of standing or adhoc committees to handle some issues in schools and make recommendations to the school head at all levels of education is an example of the application of this principles, Ukeje, okorie and nwagbara [1992] argued that the school must be democratically governed so as to inculcate such virtues in the lives of the students.

They advised school heads applying this principle to always refer any unwholesome decision back to the group who made it for thorough consideration before arriving at a better decision. Rejoinders could also be used for better decision.


this emphasizes the need to protect an individual or a group from unfair treatment. it is said to be the general application of the principles of regard for the individual. this principle, demands that the school administrator must observe equity and fairness in the application of rules and regulations. Akubue [1991] describes the two types of administrators that emerge in the application of this principle as ‘discretional administrator’ and ‘rigid administrator’.

The discretional administrators tends to be arbitrary and observes situational flexibility in taking decision. the rigid one on the other hand , applies the laws and regulations without any regard for personal discretion or merit of individual cases. though the – discretional administrator is preferred.

It is however important to note that uniform procedures are better than arbitrary discretion,. therefore ” a good and effective administrator is the one who is able ro keep between the rough edge of uniformity and sharp edge of arbitrary discretion. [Ukeje, okorie and Nwagbara 1992:86].

Good human relationship

This principle advises administrators to show a good understanding of people as unique individuals that have peculiar needs, interests and backgrounds which may influence their behavior and expectations. this will help to reduce hostility and conflicts drastically in the school environment. this principle according to Ukeje et al [1992] compels the school administrator to maintain accessible but respectful distance from the staff and students.

Principle of equality of opportunity

This principle demands that every school staff should be given equal demands that every school staff should be given equal opportunity to resources that will help him perform his or her job maximally irrespective of sex, religion, tribe etc. this principle will ensure that the administrator does not have any favorite but should be fair to all and friend to none.

Principle of security

Security is a universal need of every individual and group. the level of justice and equality of opportunity observed by te super ordinate in any organization is the level of sense of security the subordinates will have. this principle mandates the school administrator to defend and protect the school staff while discharging their duties. they should ne protected from internal and external aggressions.

Prudential principles

Prudential principle has been described as the practical application of wisdom, the exercise of caution and the use of force thought or foresight in management of an organization. it implies the ability to plan , regulate and calculate possible causes, effects and results as well as to cover loop holes for fraud, cheating and temptation [Akubue 1991]. this principle consists of other sub principle as follows.

  • Authority and responsibility
  • Economy
  • Awareness of popular standards of achievement
  • Employment of staff
  • Financial administration

Authority and responsibility

This principle stipulates that lines of authority send responsibility must be clearly defined in order to avoid conflicts of authority and over lapping of jurisdiction. the principle demands that individuals should not take direct order from more than one Pedro. Thus, suggesting that every staff should be made know what he is responsible for and to who to be accountable.

This principle states that all staff members should remain faithful and loyal to the case or mission of the organization. it recognizes the importance of group loyalty and consensus in achieving organizational goals. the administrator is therefore called upon to harness the loyalty of the group, and not frustrate it by his other actions.


The principle of economy states that an investment in every -business requires prudence. prudence according to nwazurike [1997] refers to wisdom in investment actions as well as reasoned or measured risks and cost effectiveness. emphasis in public institutions such as educational institution should focus on maximizing or optimizing service while private businesses Centre on optimizing profit thereby emphasizing cost – benefit analysis.

Awareness of popular standards of achievement

This demands that every administrator should be aware of what the public considers to be standards of behavior efficiency and achievement. it calls for the respect of public opinion as an important factor in determining educational practices. Akubue [1991] warned that the administrator should do this without abdicating his/her responsibility .

A balanced compromise demands that administrators should encourage community participation in matters relating to student services. personnel and financial administration but must not be allowed to br controlled by them.

Employment of staff

This stipulates that adequate staff in terms of quality and quality should be employed to perform the organizations task. this called for an efficient personnel functions that will meticulously recruit, select, orientate, develop, appraise and discipline school staff without bias of sort.

Financial administration

This principle demands for checks and balances in all financial administration. it equips the school administrator with the wisdom to know that the needs of the allocation of school funds as way of actualizing teaching and learning which is the primary aim of the school organization. this principle according to Akubue [1991:136] required administrators to

  1. Use comparative costing before purchase so as to get the best article at the cheapest possible price.
  2. Use accounting by objectives which means that one should relate the price one pays to the services utilized with objectives one wants to achieve.
  3. Use checks and balance implying that oe should accept financial responsibilities with the normal or customary prudential safeguard such as;
    • signing of contracts on the basis of tenders of competitive bids.
    • Designation of more than one person to sign the organization’s cheques.
    • Making payment in acceptable forms to be signed by the recipient s in the payment of voucher.

observing due process in financial matters as advocated by this principle will be very helpful in ensuring accountability by the administrator thereby exonerating him or her from malicious accusations. it will also safeguard the public against misuse and embezzlement.

Principles of change

This principle is relevant to every administrator because the society is dynamic thus subject to innovations and changes. school administrators play key role in effecting changes and innovations or retard them. The principle helps them to develop defensive plans for effecting appropriate changes as to meet future challenges.

The principle of change comprises of the following

  1. Adaptability
  2. Flexibility
  3. Stability


This demands that the school should change their response to societal changes which may be in form of new ideas, values, innovations etc. It reminds school heads that school policies, rules and regulations should be constantly reviewed in response to the need of the community, staff and student.

Educational institutions should be made progressive, open and dynamic so as to welcome new knowledge, ideas and conditions


This principle according to Uwazrike (1997) seeks to ensure that changes made are not mandatory to all groups whose conditions or situational properties differ. Uniform rules such as wearing of school uniforms rules such as wearing school uniforms in schools should be made flexible – in terms of the material and sewing so as to suit the local conditions and environmental variables.


This principle is supplementary to adoptability in the sense that change must come after careful considerations of the benefit of such change and should be effected gradually.

Ukeje, Okorie and Nwagbara (1992) advised that the process should involve assessing the advantages of the new, checking the by products and the repercussions that may occur before deciding on the change stability demands that the benefits or good aspects of past administrations should be recognized and retained and incorporated in the new administration to ensure continuity of good and effective policies and practices.

Bureaucratic principles

bureaucracy as conceptualized by webe- [1947] is supposed to be ideal type which describes relationships and other factors that exist when people work together to achieve common goals. this ideal type of bureaucracy according to grosky and miler [1981:8-10] functions as follows;

  1. There is the principle of fixed and official jurisdictional areas that is, by laws or administrative regulations.
  2. The principle of office hierarchy and levels, graded authority means a firmly ordered system of supra and subordination in which there is supervision of lower offices by the higher ones.
  3. The management of the modern office is based upon written documents [the files] which is preserved in their original draft form.
  4. Office management: at least all specialized office management usually presupposes thorough and expert training.
  5. When the office is fully developed, official activity demand the full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact that his obligation time in the bureau may be firmly delimited.
  6. The management of the office, follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive and which can be learned.

Elements of bureaucratic principles

The elements of bureaucratic principles include;

  • A division of labour based on functional specialization
  • A system of rules and regulations governing tasks
  • A well defined hierarchy and authority
  • Impersonal orientation in interpersonal relations.
  • Technical competence as basis for employment and promotion.

Through the principle of bureaucracy has several advantage in ensuring effective administration, it also have certain dysfunctions if applied without sense of prudence by the school administrator.

Universal or fundamental principles

This principle is made up of three sub-principles namely;

  • The principle of responsibility
  • The principle of communication
  • The principle of delegation of authority
  • The principle of executive leadership
The principle of responsibility;

this stipulates that each staff in every organization should be assigned a responsibility to perform. the assignment of responsibility should be based on qualification and competency to ensure efficiency in staff performance.

The principle of communication

This principle emphasis the need for effective communication in every organization. the school administrator should encourage information flow vertically and horizontally so as to keep the staff and students abreast of events in the institution. The cool head should generate ideas and suggestions from the subordinates by encouraging upward communications this will help him/her maximize the benefits of participatory decision making.

The principle of delegation of authority

This principle demands that organizational task should be assigned to staff members with commensurate authority delegated with the task to enable the staff function effectively. the application of this principle is seen in the education; institutions in the delegation of authority from the school heads to the deans, heads of departments. house masters, form masters, labour masters etc. to carry ou duties of their departments and unity .

The principle of executive leadership

This principle stipulates that the chief executive should provide central coordination of activities since he is seen to be at the nerve center of administration. it implies that how well each executive can fulfill leadership potential is related to personal and situational factors as seen in his dynamic interaction with various groups in that situation [knezevich 1975].

Stogdill [1962] identified some of these personal and situational factors considered necessary for the assessment of one’s leadership behavior.

They include;

  1. Presentation: The leader speaks and acts as a respresentive of the people.
  2. Demand reconciliation: The leader reconciles conflicting demand demand and reduces disorder to the system.
  3. Tolerance of uncertainty: The leader is able to tolerate uncertain ad postponement without anxiety or upset.
  4. Persuasive; the leader clearly defines his role and followers know what is expected of them.
  5. Initiation of structure; The leader clearly defined his role and followers know what is expected of them
  6. Tolerance or freedoms: The leader actively exercise followers scope for initiative, decisions and action.
  7. Role assumption; The leader actively exercises the leadership than surrendering leadership to others.
  8. Consideration: The leader regards the comfort, well being state and contributions of the followers,
  9. Productive emphasis: The leader applies pressure for products output.
  10. Integration: the leader maintains closely-knit organization and resolves inter member conflicts
  11. Productive accuracy: the leader exhibits foresight and ability to predict outcomes accurately.
  12. Superior orientation: the leader maintains cordial relations with superiors, has influence with them and strives for higher status.

It is imperative to note that all the principles of administration discussed i this chapter are meant to guide the administrator in every organization to make sound and effective decisions which is the nerve Centre of every of every administration.


  • Akubue A.U [1991]. classroom organization and management ibadan; wisdom publishers ltd.
  • Grosk O’ and M. Goerge [1981]; the sociology of organization basics studies 2nd edition. new York the free press
  • Knezevich, [1975] administration of public education new York: hanper and row pub
  • Koontz H and C. O’ Donnell [1968] principles of management new York; McGraw hill Weber, max [1947] the theory of social and Economic organization. new York free press
  • Nwankwo, J.I. [1982] educational administration theory and practice. India; vikas pub how PVT ltd
  • Okeke, B.S .& C.N Uwazuruike [1997] introductions to educational administration owerri: klet ken publishers Ltd,
  • Stodgiky C.M 1974 handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research new York: free press.
  • Ukeje, B. O, N.C okorie and U.A Nwagbara [1992] educational administration; theory and practice owerri; totan publishers.
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