Transforming Educational Management in South Africa

Article excerpt

Three key conceptual issues related to educational management development demand the immediate attention of South African policymakers. First, apartheid engendered a particular understanding of education and educational management among school administrators; second, movement toward a democratic educational system requires policies that enable rapid transformation; and third, successful transformation requires new approaches. This article critiques recent educational management policy reports, highlighting the possibilities and constraints of their recommendations. It considers whether the current thinking about educational management at the legislative level accurately assesses the legacy of apartheid and offers a viable alternative framework for reconceptualizing educational management development in South Africa.

INTRODUCTION

In 1994, voters in South Africa elected a democratic government. The majority of the nation's population had long regarded the formerly entrenched apartheid system as illegitimate, hierarchical, and authoritarian. A key demand of the antiapartheid movement inside and outside South Africa was that officials democratize both the system of educational governance and the management of schools. Thus, among its first initiatives, the newly elected democratic government reviewed educational governance in South Africa and made key recommendations. This committee's work laid the foundation for the new Republic of South Africa Department of Education's [RSADE] (1996a) White Paper 2 on educational transformation; for the passage in 1996 of the South African Schools Act (SASA), which declared public schools open to all citizens (RSADE, 1996c); and for the National Education Policy Act (NEPA) (RSADE, 1996b). In addition to various committee reports, other policy proposals and legislation focused more on planning and management of the educational system. The government appointed the National Task Team on Education Management Development (NTTEMD) (1996), which recommended in its Changing Management to Manage Change in Education document a framework for fostering professional management development in South African schools.

As South Africa enters a period of rapid political and social transformation, renewed focus on educational management development is especially crucial. Inherent in this statement are three key conceptual issues: (a) apartheid engendered a particular understanding of education and educational management among school administrators; (b) movement away from the apartheid system toward a democratic system of education demands policies that enable rapid transformation; and (c) a successful transformation process requires development of a new educational management approach. The present article addresses each of these issues and critiques the Department of Education and NTTEMD reports, highlighting the possibilities and constraints of their recommendations as they affect primary and secondary education. Specifically, this article addresses two questions:

(1) Does the current thinking about educational management at the legislative level take into account the legacy of apartheid upon education management development? and

(2) Does the NTTEMD report offer a viable alternative framework for reconceptualizing educational management development in South Africa?

EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA: AN OVERVIEW

The South African educational system during apartheid employed a highly centralized decision-making process and well-developed decentralized structures through which to implement policy. Critics have argued, however, that the apartheid-era system's "topdown" administration typically proceeded without the consultation or participation of those who implemented the decisions. Principals, for example, particularly those in schools serving Black students, were viewed merely as implementers of decisions, not as administrators with "the opportunity to formulate or construct their own school policies, vision or mission" (Gallie, 1996, p. …

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.