Women Principals' Reflections of Curriculum Management Challenges in Rural South African Schools

By Mohapi, Soane J.; Netshitangani, Tshilidzi | Gender & Behaviour, July 2017 | Go to article overview

Women Principals' Reflections of Curriculum Management Challenges in Rural South African Schools


Mohapi, Soane J., Netshitangani, Tshilidzi, Gender & Behaviour


Introduction

Curriculum management is a critical aspect of in ensuring effective teaching and learning. Numerous curriculum changes have had a tremendous impact on teaching and learning in South African schools. The premise of this article is that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) may need to rethink proposed changes in curriculum implementation and management, and how to ameliorate the factors affecting learner performance. Principals might be best suited to handle the disciplinary relationships and procedures which form part of school management, but the majority fail to demonstrate a sufficient degree of development when it comes to working with a specific subject curriculum. With recent changes in the South African education system, such as the introduction of Annual National Assessments(ANAs) and Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), principals must be able to diagnose the capacity of teachers and to help them teach effectively, because a primary determinant of learner achievement is effective curriculum management and implementation, quality teaching and learning.

It is important to focus on women's reflections, because we live in a society in which there is substantial inequality, some of which is partly grounded in gendered social relations and the construction of different gendered identities based on male-female dualism (Davies, 1982, p.2). A number of competing explanations for this situation and considerable controversy exist in respect of the different positions. The International Women's Forum (2011) contends that the issue of gender awareness-raising is necessitated by the need to achieve a more inclusive and just society. In South Africa, the government has introduced quotas to ensure that women are represented in the management of organisations (including government departments). Moreover, government emphasises that gender representation has become an important issue for justice and the redressing of past imbalances. Research in South Africa (Moorosi, 2010) indicates that despite improvements in terms of representation in school management, women still face a plethora of challenges that men in similar leadership positions do not face. Moorosi (2010) adds that those challenges are influenced by personal, organisational and social factors. To support this assertion, the International Women's Forum (2011, p. 6) spells out how the remnants of a patriarchal society continue to stifle women's access to management positions:

The government has produced a number of policies and legislation to improve women's empowerment. While successes are evident, as elaborated later on this report, South Africa still carries elements of a patriarchal society. On average women still earn less than men, there is still the expectation that the role of women be restricted to child care, caring for the sick, and fetching water and fuel rather than economically productive...

It is therefore appropriate to state that women still work within a challenging managerial context. Yet despite the aim of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa to redress past imbalances based on gender,women's access to managerial positions continues to be among the major challenges facing South African organisations - schools in particular.

The situation is not only characteristic of this country. In a study of Ugandan school principals, Lunyolo, Ayodo, Tikoko and Simatwa (2014) note that women in management positions experience several challenges, including social, cultural, religious, home-based, individual and political barriers. In addition, their study (Lunyolo et al., 2014) revealed that there is usually discrimination in respect of cultural and religious beliefs, social norms, male-dominated interviewing panels and negative criticisms by men. In the United States, female managers are faced with managerial challenges which include, legislation and policies, social norms driven by the media, conflict between work and family, as well as bad human resource practices (Shin & Bang 2013). …

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