A case for formally training newly appointed principals in South Africa on professional management - MANCOSA


A case for formally training newly appointed principals in South Africa on professional management

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Newly appointed principals in South Africa receive little induction or in-service training, while in other  countries a one or two days’ induction programme is considered sufficient. New principals must have a formal, structured programme as one component of enhancing their leadership capabilities as well as building leadership capacity in schools. By virtue of their positions at the top of the ladder of school management, principals set the tone for operations in their schools.

Mathibe (2007) is of the opinion that in South Africa, any educator can be appointed to a principalship position even if he or she does not have a management qualification. The lack of specification for management training for job applicants to a principal’s post indicates structural defects in the South African education system. Similarly, the ETDP SETA (2002) states that ad hoc attempts have been made to equip principals for their roles and responsibilities in schools. There is no departmental directive on the nature and content of management development that principals in South Africa should adhere to. Mestry and Singh (2007) state that providing principals with the necessary knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes becomes increasingly important in relation to the difficulties faced by a dynamic and changing educational culture in a democratic South Africa.

According to Reitzug (2002), the quest for promoting educated intelligence requires that professional development be viewed as an ongoing part of the daily life of a school. Professional development may take different forms such as training, on-site processes,  networks and professional development schools (Reitzug, 2002). To this end, Jones, Clark, Fig, Howarth and Reid (1989) state that programmes for professional development are the oxygen that ensures survival of principals as educated and trained professionals.

Newly appointed principals face problems such as conflict management, school-community relations, and tension with staff, and lack of interpersonal skills, amongst others. As a result, to revamp career structures for principals, deputies, and prospective principals, an integrated approach for professional and career development must be instituted.

Training institutions/agencies, both private and public, develop their own management programmes, which are often fragmented, do not meet the specific requirements of principals, and their training arrangements are ad hoc. To address the “structural defects”, MANCOSA has both the personnel and the programme to deliver a holistic experience to empower and capacitate newly appointed principals, as well as other principals who need training and support. The programme is delivered through the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Management. Here, principals will also be able to accrue type 3 SACE points.

– by Mr Yusuf Salot – School of Education