Better Schools:
Resource Materials for School Heads in Africa
Organising Resources to Support the Curriculum
The nature and quality of the curriculum offered in a school is closely related to the resources which are available and, most importantly, how well they are used. In this unit we consider these issues and some of the problems school heads face in managing resources. Even where finances are available, it is still important to improvise and adapt from the local environment.

Individual study time : 3 hours

Learning outcomes
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
• display a thorough knowledge of resources and the way they should be organised for the promotion of learning/teaching in schools
• explain the need to produce and acquire resources
• recognise constraints in the management of resources
• find ways of managing resources properly.

Types of resources and constraints
Activity 3.1

(1) Name the four main types of resource which are available to us all.
(2) Identify some of the constraints you face as a school head managing your resources.
20 minutes

Resources are essential to get our work done. The four main types are: material resources, human resources, financial resources and time. Some of the principles which we need to apply in their management are as follows:
1 All possible resources should be identified and used appropriately.
2 There should be a maximum use of all available resources.
3 Local resources should be sought or manufactured wherever possible.
4 The use of resources should be carefully monitored and controlled.

You will probably have identified quite a number of constraints which considerably handicap the ability of you and your teachers to provide the curriculum you would wish. Which of the following did you identify?
• shortage or lack of storage facilities
• lack of skills and expertise needed to identify and use resources properly
• inadequate sources of supply of the required resources
• insufficient means of transport to distribute resources
• lack of skills in how to manage time and space effectively
• insufficient financial provision
• inappropriate and unimaginative training of teachers.

Identifying resources
Activity 3.2

Take the examples of resources shown in Fig 6 and place them in the correct category.
10 minutes
Fig 6 Examples of resources
school day
audio-visual aids
PTA funds
period allocations
study time
ancillary staff
kits for science
school infrastructure
board of governors
petty cash
library books
teachers' guides
community resource persons

This list and your answers demonstrate the extraordinary range of resources available to us. Everything we see and touch is a resource which perhaps we could use. Thus resources extend far beyond textbooks, include many things which cannot be provided by the Ministry of Education and include many resources which cost nothing. From this you may see that the management of resources by a school head requires considerable skills.

Managing resources
Activity 3.3
Everyone uses resources.
(1) What resources do the following people use: pupils, teachers, grounds staff, head of school, bursar?
(2) Excluding members of the school administration, who is directly responsible for securing the following resources for the school: stationery, teacher, pupils, fuel for school vehicle, information on careers, classroom furniture, firewood, science kits, school weather station, sports equipment, food and school bell?
(3) In what ways can these people be helped to make effective use of these resources?
- pupils' use of: the library, study time;
- teachers' use of: the classroom, schemes and records of work, the school bulletin boards;
- Bursar/Treasurer's use of: financial records, petty cash, bank statements.
30 minutes

We are all users of many resources, some of which are our own, but most of which we share with other people. Similarly we all have responsibility for managing resources, both our own and those we share. For teachers and other staff who are employed by the government or owners of the school, it is important that the extent of their individual responsibilities should be written into their job descriptions. The appraisal of the work of everyone in a school should take into account how well they manage resources. The qualities of leadership which we look for in both pupils and teachers (and most school heads) depends to a large extent on their resource management abilities. Everyone needs to be helped to develop their skills in this area, both through pre-service training on the part of teachers and through everyday training and supervision. The school head is responsible for developing this appreciation of resources and the involvement of everyone in their management.

Maintaining resources
Activity 3.4

Resources have to be looked after properly. The school delegates this responsibility and monitors the performance of the individuals concerned. For each of the resources listed in Fig 7 give the post of the person responsible, where the resource is normally stored and any special management this requires.
10 minutes

Fig 7 Maintaining resources
  Post Storage Management
Art equipment
Surplus furniture
Agricultural tools
School vehicle
Cooking utensils

Resources which are purchased from school funds require special attention. For this reason the head usually delegates authority and responsibility to key teachers and members of the support staff, and ensures the provision of storage and appropriate management.

The shortage of any resource - teachers, classrooms, finance, time - reduces the extent to which the curriculum can be delivered effectively.

Shortages can occur because of poor school management procedures, including, for example:
• failure to make proper staffing vacancy returns
• failure to keep consumable ledger up-to-date
• careless use of recurrent funds
• inability to maintain resources to acceptable standards resulting in deterioration
• professional incompetence.

Shortages can also occur because of factors external to and beyond the control of the school management, including, for example:
• inadequate funding
• lack of available transport
• limitations in the capacity of the supplier making it impossible to meet the needs of the school
• inability of the recruiting agency to provide teachers as and when required
• lack of creativity and resourcefulness on the part of staff members
• non-existence of environmental resources, for example, a lesson on rivers could suffer in a place where there are none
• no electricity or source of power.

Activity 3.5
From your own experience what are the main problems you face as a school head in the maintenance of resources? How does your list compare with that given above?
20 minutes

It is important to recognise that shortages originating within the school may be overcome by good school management practices, but first it is necessary to identify the cause of the shortages and then make the required changes in the school's internal routines to try to improve the situation.

More effective resource maintenance
Activity 3.6

Identify five ways in which you and your staff and pupils could manage the resources in your school more effectively.
20 minutes

There are many suggestions you could have made. Did you include any of the following?
• better planning to identify resource needs and how they may be satisfied
• better pre-service, in-service and on-the-job training for those who use resources
• more effective use of storage facilities
• more accurate and punctual maintenance of all resource records
• closer supervision and more accountability of both staff and pupils.

There are many benefits your school will derive from a more effective management of resources.

By managing the school's resources more effectively the head will achieve easier access to available resources, a higher level of achievement of the curriculum objectives and a full and proper utilisation of all resources. In addition it is likely that the teachers will become more creative and positive and their lessons will become more varied, focused and interesting, resulting in more use of learner-centred methods.

Production of resources
A fundamental characteristic of a good learning environment is one where creativity and innovation are fostered and promoted. Do your teachers experiment with new ideas with regard to locating, developing and using new resources?

One school overcame the non-availability of gas for laboratory use by constructing spirit heaters out of empty bottles and thick string.

Activity 3.7
Can you identify two ways in which you and your staff have recently demonstrated a capacity for self-help and experimentation in resourcing your school and its curriculum?
20 minutes

In every school there should always be an emphasis on improving the conditions for pupil-learning which will in turn depend on teacher self-development, motivation and commitment. Good, available resources will lead to greater satisfaction amongst both pupils and staff. In order to accomplish this the school head must plan, anticipate, consult, supervise and act in a timely manner to ensure all the resources which are required are identified, developed and fully used in a responsible manner.