A head is charged with the proper utilisation and care of all
resources in his or her school. Some of these resources are
intangible, for example, time, manpower and space; others require
accurate recording and accounting, for example, finance; and
a third category needs physical maintenance, for example, school
Fig 14 School resources
The concern, in this unit, is with learning about the maintenance
of tangible resources.
Individual study time: 3 hours
Principles and constraints of resource maintenance
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
distinguish between different categories of resources
explain the importance of maintaining resources
describe the procedures to keep resources in your school
identify the procedures for obtaining general and replacement
items of supply
train and supervise inventory holders to care for items
in their charge
keep stock and other relevant school records.
(1) Describe the main principles which a school head needs to
know about with regard to operating an effective system of resource
maintenance in the school.
(2) What are the main constraints you face as a school head
in trying to operate an effective resource maintenance system?
Each school head needs to understand the importance of the
following basic principles with regard to the maintenance
of resources in a school:
1 All school buildings, equipment and property must be well
2 A school head must be conversant with government supplies
and maintenance regulations.
3 All school purchases must be correctly recorded and maintained
in good order.
4 All school purchases must be used for the purpose for which
they were bought.
5 Goods and materials must be frequently checked and controlled
to ensure their effective use.
6 An up-to-date inventory must be kept in every location where
there are school resources.
School heads are faced with many constraints which affect
their ability to manage school resources effectively. These
shortage of personnel trained to handle maintenance
lack of effective supervision of staff responsible
for maintenance and supplies
lack of storage space
insecure storage facilities
delays in the disposal of unserviceable stock items
arrival of replacement orders delayed or misdelivered
because of transport difficulties or inefficiencies
lack of consultation between supplier and user
increase in maintenance demand because of overuse of
limited facilities and equipment.
Which problem would you tackle first, and which last, and why?
As a newly appointed head you arrive at the school which has
limited financial resources and find, amongst other deficiencies,
many broken windows, blocked toilets, a sports field overgrown
with grass and bush and a broken perimeter fence.
The first step would be to make a list of the main problems
to be tackled, and separate them out into different levels
of urgency. You would need to do this in conjunction with
your staff, including non-teaching staff and your pupils.
Then you would need to identify who is responsible for each
problem and what resources are needed, are available and could
be easily obtained. The next step would be to organise your
resources, of people, materials and finance, to tackle the
problems. Lastly, you would need to ensure that a regular
system of maintenance is put into place, becoming part of
the everyday regime of your school.
Consumable and non-consumable items
A consumable item is usually of low cost and has a short life
span which changes its shape or nature in normal usage. Although
from a common sense point of view the school head may decide
what is consumable and what is not, it is wise to consult
No single factor alone is used to determine the category.
Three factors have to be considered, namely: cost, life span
and change of shape or change of nature. For example, how
would you classify an expensive 20 litre container of dishwashing
liquid, or a 40 kilogram cylinder of gas?
For each of the items in Fig 15 indicate whether they are consumable
(c) or non-consumable (n).
Fig 15 Consumable and non-consumable items
dining hall table
Common sense will usually be enough to distinguish between
consumable and non-consumable goods, but there are borderline
cases. For example, a pupil's workbook is consumable if it
is being used more as an exercise book, than as a textbook.
Government and Government Aided (Private or Mission) Schools
In a Government School the head follows government procedures
when ordering equipment and supplies. These items and services
are usually obtained from other government departments. The
head does not handle actual cash but works through a system
of purchase orders and vouchers.
In Government Aided Schools the head receives a subvention
in the form of a regular cheque (quarterly or termly) with
which to buy items of supply or effect repairs. This money
can be used locally or nationally; tender procedures do not
necessarily have to be followed.
Which of the systems mentioned above:
- is the quicker?
- may produce best value for money?
- exposes the head to greater accountability?
- may lead to better maintenance of school resources?
The nearer responsibility for the purchase of resources is
to the end-users, the greater the chance that more care will
be taken in the purchase of appropriate resources, so long
as there is an effective system of accountability in place.
Resources purchased by the school are more likely to be carefully
stored and maintained. If you are the head of a school where
resources, including repairs, have to be organised through
a system of paperwork, you might like to consider the arguments
you and your colleagues could use to persuade the District
Education Officer (or whoever the responsible officer might
be) to provide a cash vote instead.
Stock-keeping, which is critical to the maintenance of resources,
is the process of maintaining inventory data on the quantity
and condition of supplies and equipment in order to know what
is available for issue and distribution, and also to provide
a base for making decisions on procuring additional supplies.
Stock must be classified as consumable or non-consumable
and then recorded accurately in the appropriate ledger by
the receiving officer (Supplies Officer, or Bursar, or Administrative
Assistant, or designated teacher) and checked by the school
Consumable items, when issued against signature, are used
and the use properly monitored.
Non-consumable items are issued and entered by the officer
in charge of supplies on the appropriate inventory card. The
items and the card are checked at intervals.
Design a page in a ledger for consumable items. Include columns
for these entries:
- date of arrival of goods;
- date of issue;
- quantity received;
- quantity issued.
(Note: Please check your local regulations to ensure you include
everything which is required.)
Ensuring resources are well maintained
When you have completed this exercise go and have a look at
the store's ledger used in your school. Check whether the
headings correspond to what you have suggested.
What would you do in each of the situations listed in
Fig 16? Distinguish between what you would do immediately, what
you would do in the next few days, and medium term.
Fig 16 Example situations
1 Pupils are inexplicably hungry.
2 There is a dramatic increase in the consumption of fuel in
3 Teachers complain of the lack of chalk.
4 Pupil chairs are moved from one classroom to another continually.
5 Gas cylinders unexpectedly become empty in the science laboratories.
6 Wheel barrows are left on the agricultural garden.
7 Football kit disappears from the washing line.
8 There is an unexplained broken window in a classroom.
9 Part of the school fence goes missing overnight.
10 A waterpipe bursts, flooding part of the school.
Sources of school maintenance
With most problems or crises there are two solutions; one
is the immediate action which is required to bring the problem
under control, the other is to find ways of preventing the
same thing happening again. Only by developing formal procedures,
which must include the regular, frequent inspection of physical
plant and stock, can problems be kept to a minimum. Because
there is so much to be looked at, much of the work of inspection
should be delegated. However, no matter how thorough your
procedures may be, critical incidents will still occur!
Complete the diagram in Fig 17 by filling the blanks with people
and agencies who are responsible for school maintenance. For
each one give two examples of what they maintain in your school.
Fig 17 Sources of school maintenance
You have completed the diagram to show who is responsible
for maintenance in your school and examples of what they do.
As you completed it you may have thought of areas where your
standard of maintenance could be improved, and how you could
improve the delegation of responsibility further, as well
as your system of supervision and accountability.
There is always a need for regular servicing and maintenance
to prevent disrepair and breakages. Make a list of the equipment
and resources in your school which require preventative maintenance,
and describe what you do in each case.
Which of the following did you include on your list?
boundary fence o gas oven
school vehicle o generator
borehole o cess pits
planer o access road
computer o fire extinguisher
classroom furniture o roofs of buildings
First Aid kit o photocopier
typewriter o classroom walls and floors
As the development of your school takes place so the range
of resources which require preventative maintenance will increase,
as will the cost. The purchase of any resource, whether it
is a building or a textbook, must take account of its durability
and how much it will cost to maintain each year. An estimate
of recurrent costs should be included in any proposal for
Complete the form outline in Fig 18 for three different items
The frequency with which stock is checked, and interval of
time between checks is important.
- what was checked;
- frequency of checks;
- any abnormalities.
Fig 18 Checking stock
||TYPE OF CHECK
Which of the following did you include on the form:
a physical check at frequent intervals
a random check to ensure the balance of stock is correct
a check to ascertain when items were issued
a check that items issued were received?
Did you indicate who the inventory holder is? It is important
to note that all inventory holders should receive full instruction
on their responsibilities.
Money and effort expended on resource maintenance and management
is money well spent. A school head must manage all school
resources efficiently in the interests of the school and therefore
full, proper and timely maintenance of these resources is
imperative. In order to do this, he or she must institute
a system of checks, reporting and stocktaking procedures,
including the regular supply of replacement parts and servicing.