Title page for ETD etd-06012011-164248

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Chalufu, John Sibusiso
URN etd-06012011-164248
Document Title KwaZulu-Natal school principals’ perceptions of the practical relevance of formal education management development programmes
Degree PhD
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof J L Beckmann Co-Supervisor
Prof J D Jansen Supervisor
  • education management development
  • leadership development
  • school principals professional development
  • post-apartheid school challenges
  • school effectiveness
  • school management
  • school leadership
Date 2011-04-04
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study is to explore school principals’ perceptions of the possible effects and benefits of formal university-based education management development programmes (EMDPs) on their practical work in schools. It also aims to inquire into the kinds of challenges that principals in South Africa, specifically in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), are faced with in the post-apartheid era and their perceptions of the extent to which these EMDPs meet or fail to meet their needs and those of their schools.

In this study I move from the basic premise that professional development is critical for all principals and that given the new conditions that exist in SA post-1994, more than ever, the ideal situation would be for all principals to be trained so as to enable them to deal effectively with the changed and constantly changing conditions that prevail in schools.

The study is guided by the following general research question: What are the perceptions of school principals of the benefits of formal EMDPs on their practices in school? The following related questions are also addressed, namely

i) What are the links between formal EMDPs and the needs of school principals?

ii) What kinds of challenges do principals in KZN face in the post-apartheid era and what are their perceptions of the extent to which EMDPs have met or failed to meet their needs and those of their schools?

Working in an interpretivist research paradigm within a qualitative research design, the inquiry used document analysis, content analysis of research literature and semi-structured interview methods. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach in an effort to make sense of the meanings that the participants, mainly the school principals, in this study give to their experiences of EMDPs.

One of the main findings of this study is that some principals demonstrated the ability to reflect on their professional development programmes and to make connections between theory and research and some of the challenges that they encounter. The other main insights of the study include the following:

a) Regarding their content and context, and according to the participants, EMDPs in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have major shortcomings in relation to needs assessment and analysis, programmatic aims and objectives, recruitment and selection of candidates, and field-based learning experiences. However, EMDPs are perceived to have been successful in areas such as understanding the environments for which principals need to be developed, the application of leadership and management development content to organisational settings, and in their modes of delivery.

b) Although a majority of principals recognised the need to change and work within the new democratic environment ushered in by the new socio-political dispensation in SA, a few principals expressed their challenges with engaging in shared leadership and shared decision making in schools.

c) Pertaining to the perceptions of school principals regarding the value of EMDPs in KZN, the majority of principals felt that although they were still struggling with a number of post-1994 challenges, EMDPs had equipped them, for the most part — albeit inadequately — to deal with the challenges that they face in schools.

d) School principals highlighted what they saw as two significant aspects (emerging themes) in the professional development of principals:

i. Though very critical of training workshops in their current form, school principals in this study saw training workshops as important vehicles for assisting principals to keep abreast of the developments in the leadership and management of their school, as a means for providing opportunities to share and learn from the experiences of others, and as an avenue for collaborative problem solving;

ii. A majority of school principals emphasised what they regarded as the important role played by experiences beyond the formal education management development programmes, in the effective running of schools.

Apart from presenting “thick descriptions” of the voices of school principals regarding the effects of the post-1994 changes on their practices and the extent to which EMDPs are perceived to have met principals and school needs, the significance of this study lies in plugging the gap of previous impact analysis studies by, amongst other things, not only focusing on the perceptions of the recipients of the EMDPs, but also focusing on the views of the EMDP providers and the policy makers. This study therefore presents critical insights which may be invaluable in the future development of EMDPs and in the improvement or modification of existing ones.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Chalufu, JS 2011, KwaZulu-Natal school principals’ perceptions of the practical relevance of formal education management development programmes, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06012011-164248/ >


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